Vertical Rush 2018: Drinkwater storms to debut victory

Posted: March 22, 2018 in News

Susie Drinkwater took the win at Shelter’s Vertical Rush in London, in her debut tower race.

The all-round endurance athlete transitioned seamlessly into stair running, taking victory in a time of 6.11.

She saw off fellow Briton, and tower running rising star, Sarah Frost (6.12), with Italy’s Cristina Bonacina third (6.35).

‘I had absolutely no idea I would win. I was really chuffed with my time, but I hoped for maybe top 10 female in my dreams’, Drinkwater told Tower Running UK.

‘I found the race incredibly hard from the outset. The only thing I can compare it to is a VO2 max test…I felt ill for a good hour afterwards.’


Warrior’s war paint: victorious Susie Drinkwater at the top of Tower 42, the seventh tallest building in the UK.

Her background in cycling, triathlon and ultra-running obviously gave her a strong base to launch an attack on the leaderboard when she set off in the 10am wave, but she told Tower Running UK she had no idea about pacing or technique.

‘I genuinely had no idea of time or pacing, but had an idea from training I could go near 6.30. I’ve never run up a skyscraper before. I had no idea of technique, I just went for it.’

‘I only trained on a stairclimber – the stair-mill kind – about once a week. I always use it completely hands free and do intervals on it. I started using it at the gym to practice for a hilly ultra last year, and with no real big hills nearby I thought it was a good substitute. But training on it was so much harder than anything I’d done so I kept it up, and when I saw this race it looked like a real challenge, which I love. I will definitely do more.’

She combined this weekly session of stair-mill intervals with yoga, running, cycling and additional strength training, as she prepares for other events this year.

It’s interesting to see what can be achieved without training on actual stairs. We know that the top-level men and women have high-volume training schedules away from the stairs. Piotr Lobodzinski, for example, puts in a massive weekly running mileage alongside his stairwell sessions. But they almost all still work in sessions on the stairs, if only to work on technique.

But Drinkwater’s winning performance suggests you don’t need access to stairs at all to do well in the sport.

Her time and win were all the more impressive given she was caught up in a congested stairwell during her run.

‘I thought I was at the front of my wave when we went out to start for the warm up, but then we turned round and I ended up in the middle, which I took as a lesson for next time because I went out hard but found it really congested for a few floors at about level 15 where I had to walk.’

With plans to race again at some point, Drinkwater is undoubtedly one to keep an eye on for the future. Given this debut showing, she clearly has the potential to challenge some of the top ladies in the world.

Manzi takes overall win at Shelter’s Vertical Rush 2018
Manzi VR


In the men’s division it was Italian mountain-runner and elite stair climber Emanuele Manzi who raced to victory in a blistering time of 4.38.

With the bulk of Europe’s top racers in Paris for La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, and Vertical Rush no longer on the Vertical World Circuit tour, there was a dearth of elite level competition in attendance. The race was Manzi’s to lose.

His closest competition was expected to come from the British pair of Mark Sims and Elliot Slaughter, who had gone head-to-head in Leicester the weekend before.

Setting off in the 8am wave, in what was only his third stair race, Slaughter set an impressive benchmark of 5.01. This was a huge 10 second improvement on the time he clocked in his debut race at Vertical Rush 2017.

Manzi and Sims both set off in the 11am wave, and it was the Italian who pushed the pace. He reached the top of the 932 steps in 4.38, slightly slower than the time he ran last year.

Sims, who had actually finished ahead of Manzi at Vertical Rush in 2016, failed to dip under the five-minute mark for the first time since 2012. However, his finishing time of 5.00 was enough to push Slaughter back into third place.

Vertical Rush 2018 results

The full results are available here.

A selection of photos from the day can be viewed on the Shelter Facebook page.

Like us on Facebook for updates on upcoming events and tower running news from the UK and around the world.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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