Alexis Trujillo: in pursuit of greatness

Posted: November 8, 2019 in News
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Alexis Trujillo Strat 2019

One of the new stars on the tower running circuit, Alexis Trujillo’s stair climbing career is on the ascendancy.

With multiple wins under his belt this year, including at Scale the Strat in Las Vegas back in February, plus hard-earned podium places at some of the most competitive events on the circuit, Trujillo is currently sitting in third in the Towerrunning World Association rankings.

Fresh off the back of his victory at Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago last weekend, we caught up with the Mexican athlete to find out more about that race, his training this year and his plans for 2020.

SkyRise Chicago 2019

The 2,159-step Willis (Sears) Tower stair climb is one of the toughest in the USA, and it’s winner’s list reads like a Who’s Who of tower running legends.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, Trujillo added his name to that distinguished group.

Willis Tower

Willis (Sears) Tower is home to the SkyRise Chicago stair race

‘In general terms it was a very good race. This is a difficult building to run in, because the height of the steps varies and therefore maintaining a consistent pace isn’t possible,’ said Trujillo.

‘I did well. But in reality it didn’t go exactly as I planned, since I couldn’t fully maintain the pace with which I started. My idea was to finish sub 13-mins [only Frank Carreno (12:58, 2017) has finished the course in under 13 minutes]. At the beginning I felt I was maintaining that rhythm, but, as I said, to sustain a constant rhythm in this building is very difficult.’

‘In this race we were placed in order of how we finished in the event last year. So the order was first Frank [Carreno], then Görge [Heimann] and finally me. But Görge gave me his place so I started second. The runners set off 10 seconds apart and that made it more challenging.’

‘At around the 20th floor I reached Frank and I stayed behind him for about 10-15 floors until he let me pass. After that I felt motivated and increased the pace to be able to continue with my goal of finishing in less than 13 minutes. But I couldn’t stand the pace and on the 60th floor I had a sudden drop in energy. Then, on the 80th floor, I perceived Görge behind [the race finishes on the 103rd floor].’

‘But I know that we’re very close in the world rankings and that this was one of the decisive competitions to maintain third place in the world rankings, so I changed my mental chip. I don’t know where I got energy to get my second wind, but suddenly I made a change of pace in the last 20 floors.’

alexis trujillo

Trujillo celebrates his win at SkyRise Chicago 2019

‘I felt very strong at the beginning and at the end. I think the adrenaline did its thing to make it happen. The critical state was from the 40th to the 80th floor where I felt weak and slowed down considerably. I think that tower running is mostly a mental sport and one of the strategies to manage this drop in energy is to apply sports psychology.’

Behind the scenes

In winning at Willis last weekend, Trujillo managed to take 21 seconds off the time he clocked there in 2018. What’s been the difference this year that’s seen him take his performances to another level?

‘There have been a set of factors and changes that have helped me improve since July. I decided to be more specific in tower running training. I started adapting all I’d learnt with my athletic trainer, Alejandro Zamudio, to the stairs, and experimenting with training methods that I learned as a triathlon coach a few years ago.’

Towerrunning Mexico athletes

Alexis Trujillo with some of his fellow Towerrunning Mexico athletes

‘For example, I’m now doing two or three specific stair sessions, and only one track session, per week. With this I can say that I have decided to sacrifice my performance in horizontal races in order to improve my performance in vertical races.’

‘In addition, the Towerrunning Mexico Federation, alongside Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) has supported us with a multidisciplinary team of specialists in nutrition, psychology and physiotherapy. These three elements have helped me a lot in the last few months and have been instrumental in me obtaining good results.’

The end of the year and beyond

‘My main plan for the rest of this year is to compete at the TWA Tour Final [Nov. 24] in Shanghai, China, since in this competition the final positions of the 2019 world ranking will be defined. I’ll finally close out the season with the WTC race in Mexico City on December 15. Then, I’ll take a vacation to come back next year full of energy.

WTC Mexico City towerrunning 2019

The WTC in Mexico City where Trujillo will have his final race of 2019

‘Next year I will start with triathlon preparation, a sport in which I trained for eight years. I think this can give me a general basis for vertical races and as the competitive stage approaches, I will start to do specific sessions on stairs.

The 2020 events that I have considered are the following:

Stratosphere – Las Vegas
Eiffel Tower – Paris
KL Tower – Malasya
Towerrunning World Championship 2020 – Taipei 101
Empire State Building Run-Up – New York
Ping An Finance Center – Shenzhen
Hotel Bali – Benidorm
Ostankino Tower – Moscow
UFO Tower – Bratislava
Willis (Sears) Tower – Chicago (once again)
Eureka Tower – Australia
TWA Tour Final – Shanghai

However, that competitive schedule depends heavily on obtaining sponsorships to cover the travel costs implicated.’

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