Le Championnat de l’Escalier 1903: the first ever stair race?

Posted: March 6, 2017 in Tower running history
Tags: , , ,

Main images 1903

Quatorze juillet (14th July), or Bastille Day as it’s commonly known, is France’s national day. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille at the beginning of the French Revolution of 1789. It has long been a day of celebration and festivity throughout France.

14th July 1903 was a day of sporting revolution. Competitive stair racing began in France.

Read the story of what is probably the earliest documented stair race in history.

Le Championnat de l’Escalier, 1903

Organised by a publication called Revue Sportive the race took place on the steps of the famous Rue Foyatier (Foyatier Street) in Montmartre, Paris. Rue Foyatier now leads right up to the Sacré-Cœur, but the basilica was still under construction in 1903, so it’s not exactly clear where the racers finished.

The event involved a straight sprint up 256 steps. According to reports, ‘it was a great success, which was deserving of its innovation, in the centre of gay Montmarte on a day of national celebration’.

The event was split into four categories: men, ladies, boys and girls. Below are photos/pictures from the event with the original captions translated (in quotation marks where included, otherwise captions are our own).

action from the ladies 1903

‘A series in the women’s division’

More than 100 women, men, girls and boys turned up at the start line to take part in the event.

It was ran in a knockout tournament style, with the first to the top of the 256 steps advancing to the next round. It took 28 rounds across all the categories to find the winners.

winning the ladies championship 1903

‘The champion in the women’s race’

championnat de l'escalier 1903

‘Some of the competitors at the finish line’

1903 stair race Paris 4

You can see from the photos the event attracted a large crowd of interested spectators. You also get a real sense when reading the coverage (particularly later on with the Eiffel Tower races of 1905 and 1906) that the sport was immediately respected in the highest regard by sports reporters.

1903 stair race Paris 6

Montmatre race 1903

‘The finish line in one series’

1903 stair race Paris 3

The winner of the men’s category was a Mr de Baeder (or just, Baeder). He also happened to be the director of Revue Sportive, organiser of the race, and the starter on the day.

The women and girls championship was won by Miss Marguerite Rittrier.

Apparently there was also a category for veterans (seniors) and one of the participants was ‘the famous coach’, Succi. He was ‘much encouraged’ by the crowd who ‘did not expect to see him at an event of this kind’.

One report said, ‘Although having demonstrated the endurance to which he accustomed us, Succi could only take second place. He had probably forgotten to lose weight’.

16996079_1012516325558714_689712854379524562_n

‘Mr de Baeder, director of the Revue Sportive, wins the championship’

1903 stair race Paris 1

Action from the boy’s race

1903 stair race Paris 5

If you’re ever in Paris, head to Rue Foyatier, to where it all began, and run those steps. This purest of sports began there over 115 years ago.

You may also be interested in:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s