How To Win Vertical Rush

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Upcoming Events
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If you haven’t put in the training you won’t be winning anything, but fitness aside there are a few things to know that could give you a bit of an edge on the day. Vertical Rush is organised by the charity Shelter and is by far the most popular and well-established stair running races in the UK calendar. In 2018 it will have over 1,600 participants, which leads to our first tip.

Get There Early

To facilitate the large numbers of runners, the day is split into hourly waves with the first going at 7.30am and the last at 4.30pm. From experience there is less hype and razmatazz early in the morning, which will allow you to keep focused on the task at hand. The later sessions have press, cameras, filmed warmups and more standing around in the early March cold. Plus the later you leave it the more hands pass along the bannisters and the greasier they get. There also seems to be less people in the earlier waves, which leads into the second tip.


Would Boris and his horn help keep your head in the game?

Get To The Front

Unlike at other races around the world, UK races don’t usually have a designated ‘elite’ start. If you email in advance and express a desire to start at the front, it will be accepted, but nobody will actually be on hand to ensure you are brought to the front of your wave of runners. This is certainly the case for Vertical Rush, where the people involved with registration are not the ones bringing you through to the start. The onus will be on you to get to the front. At Vertical Rush the registration desk and bag drop are in a separate building to the stairs. You will be led a short walk outside between the two buildings and into a small basement type area with a central pillar. The entrance to the stairs is through a door on the right hand side as you walk into the ‘holding area’. Get in line immediately.

An organiser will give a brief talk and then point to the start line, after which a slight rush happens, as people queue up. If you are not in position, you will likely end up several dozen places back and be faced with the task of passing plodders on the way up.

Another reason to start at the front is the haphazard staggering of runners. At previous events, runners should have been spaced by a minimum of 5-10 seconds. This does not always happen, and it is not uncommon for the excitement to overcome some people and for them to just pour onto the stairs in groups.

If you are not at the very front, or at least in the first five, you will almost certainly lose precious seconds on the early floors as you weave past others and wait for the numbers to space out a bit.


The madness of a mass start at one of the earlier Vertical Rush events.

Details About The Stairs

This may not matter to most, but certainly matters for some, so is worth mentioning. The stairwell at Vertical Rush is left turning and goes up in blocks of nine steps. Each floor should be numbered so you can keep a check on your pacing. The railing is flat topped, which can make gripping slightly uncomfortable, but does curve nicely at the landing, making turns fairly smooth.

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