What to look forward to on the 2020 tower running calendar

Posted: January 8, 2020 in News
Tags: , , ,

It’s less than two weeks until the tower running season kicks off. 2019 was a standout year with close battles and course records aplenty, and with 2020 being a world championship year, the upcoming season promises to be just as exciting. Here are some of the tower running events we’re already getting hyped for.

World Championship at Taipei 101

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The third edition of the TWA world championship takes place on May 9th at Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

In the men’s event, Piotr Lobodzinski will be looking to defend the title he won in 2015 and 2018. He dominated the race at Taipei 101 in 2019, finishing in 10:46 – the third-fastest time ever at the tower. The Pole also won both rounds of the world championship in 2018, so will likely be the favourite heading into the event.

But expect to see stiff competition from different names than pushed Lobodzinski two years ago. Soh Wai Ching, Mark Bourne and Alexis Trujillo are just some of the athletes who had very solid 2019 seasons and will be in close contention for the podium come May.

Suzy Walsham will be looking to retain her world title, too. She was under a bit of pressure at the 2018 championship, with Valentina Belotti and Zuzana Krchova pushing her hard in the long and shorter rounds at Taipei 101.

Krchova has disappeared from the scene since then, but Belotti is on the rise and will likely be Walsham’s strongest competition. Will the 2015 world champion, Andrea Mayr, make a comeback this year? She had a massive mountain running and ski mountaineering season in 2019, but will she be tempted back onto the stairs?

Full race details for the championships are yet to be released, so we don’t know whether the same two-run format used in 2018 will be repeated or not. Could the TWA throw up something completely new?

There are lots of questions surrounding this event. The first four months of the year will give a good indication of what we might expect in May. It will be an exciting time.

The 43rd Empire State Building Run-Up

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Just three days after the world championship, the longest-running stair climb event returns for its 43rd edition.

The Empire State Building Run-Up always generates a lot of buzz, but it will be interesting to see who among the world’s best travels straight back to New York from Taiwan in order to make it onto the start line. If some of the big international names stay away, could we potentially see an American male take top spot for the first time since 1994?

Sproule Love has been on the podium twice in the past five years, in addition to 4th, 5th and 6th place finishes. Could he do even better this year?

In 2019, Piotr Lobodzinski became the second fastest man to ever run the building when he won in 10:05. Will he head back to Manhattan to try and dip under the 10-minute mark?

There are loads of unknowns surrounding this event, mostly related to the start list and who comes out unscathed and fully recovered from the world champs at Taipei 101. Regardless of who’s in attendance, the rich history of the ESBRU makes this event one to get hyped up for.

Vertical World Circuit

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Last year’s Vertical World Circuit (VWC) saw some fantastic battles on the stairs, particularly between eventual men’s winner Piotr Lobodzinski and his closest rival, Mark Bourne.

The men’s competitions has been fairly limited in recent years to Lobodzinski, Bourne and Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe. Hopefully this year some of the other big names in tower running will be able to venture out to Asia to complete more of the big races on the circuit.

Suzy Walsham secured her eighth VWC crown in 2019, and although the Australian absolutely romped to the title, winning all but one of the races she took part in, there was plenty to get excited about a little lower down the rankings.

From the UK perspective, the emergence of Sarah Frost on the international scene was a real high point of 2019.

The top UK tower runner took a record-breaking win in London, plus podium places and top-five finishes around the world to take fourth overall in the final VWC 2019 rankings. Hopefully Frost will be back on the circuit this year to fly the flag for UK stair climbing.

The 2020 races are yet to be announced, so it will be interesting to see if there are any new additions to the selection from last year.

22-climb event at the Broadgate Tower Run Up

The Broadgate Tower Run Up

The Broadgate Tower Run-Up has quickly emerged as the best stair running event in the UK. As part of the Vertical World Circuit in 2018 and 2019 it has attracted some big names to London, allowing the pick of the UK’s tower runners to go head-to-head with top international competition. It will hopefully be part of the VWC in 2020 too.

Last year, Sarah Frost and Ryoji Watanabe smashed the course records at Broadgate Tower, in what was one of the most competitive events seen in the UK for years. Could those records fall again?

The event truly offers something for everyone, from the elite race, to quarter, half and full vertical mile options. Although these categories aren’t unique, the inclusion this year of the 22-climb ‘Ultimate‘ is.

22 climbs up the 877-step tower for a total of 19,294 steps is a game changer and such a welcome challenge for those who lean toward ultra events. There are Everest stair climbs and genuine vertical marathon events around the world, but this is brand new to the UK.

It’s a hugely exciting development and testament to the forward-thinking approach of race organiser Matt Hudson of Total Motion Events.

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