International Women’s Day 2020: a celebration of women in tower running

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

Whether you go back to Sheila Duncan running as the only woman in the 1968 BT Tower race in London or admire the incredible ongoing career of Cindy Harris, women have been at the heart of competitive tower running since the sport’s very beginning.

Women’s tower running has come a long way since the earliest stair races at the start of the 1900s.

1903 and 1905

On the left is the unnamed winner of the women’s division at the Montmartre stair race in 1903. On the right is Mme. Baube, winner of the 1906 Eiffel Tower stair race.

This International Women’s Day we take a quick look at just a handful of some of the brilliant women who have played a key role in the sport.

Marcy Schwam

First ESBRU

Schwam (above wearing #11) was already an ultra-running pioneer before she turned up at the first Empire State Building Run-Up in 1978. Only three women took part in the inaugural event. She was the first woman to reach the top and although she never returned to race on the stairs again, she has the honour of being the first woman to win a stair race in the USA.

After the first ESBRU, Schwam went on to set multiple long distance records and is still running now.

Nina Kuscsik

kuscsik 1980

Like Schwam, Nina Kuscsik was also a pioneer of women’s participation in running events. She campaigned for equal participation for women at the marathon distance and in 1972 she won the New York and Boston marathons.

Kuscsik went on to to win three ESBRU titles from 1979-1981. She would return to the tower multiple times, racing well into her 70s.

2009 Nina Kuscsik

You can read more about Kuscsik in her NYRR Hall of Fame entry

Cindy Harris

Cindy Harris tower running

The incredible tower running career of the 2020 USA stairclimbing champion Cindy Harris is one of our favourite parts of the ongoing story of this sport.

Harris has been winning races, sometimes outright ahead of all competing men as well, at the top level for 25 years.

1998 purcell and moll

Cindy Harris after winning her first ESBRU title in 1998

In 2003, she became the first woman to secure four wins at the Empire State Building Run-Up. She has also amassed an unbelievable 25 wins at the Bop to the Top race in her hometown of Indianapolis, with the most recent victory coming at the start of the year.

Andrea Mayr

2006 Mayr wins

Three-time winner and course record holder at the ESBRU, six-time world mountain running champion and two-time Olympian, Andrea Mayr is one of the best athletes to have ever competed in the discipline of tower running.

The Austrian doctor has dipped in and out of the scene since the early 2000s, but she has left her mark with a series of stunning performances over the years, including a record-breaking run at Taipei 101 in 2005 and victory at the Towerrunning World Championship in 2015.

Andrea Mayr 2015 Towerrunning World Championship

Andrea Mayr winning the 2015 Towerrunning World Championship

You can read more about her in our article, Where is Andrea Mayr? On the trail of one of the world’s greatest athletes.

Suzy Walsham

Suzy Walsham la vertical de la tour eiffel

The name Suzy Walsham is now synonymous with tower running. In a glittering 14 year career that shows no sign of letting up, the Australian superstar has won everything there is to win.

The 2018 world championship and 10 ESBRU titles are perhaps the most prominent among her multitude of successes, but there are plenty more aside.

Five wins at Taipei 101, eight Vertical World Circuit titles and nine Towerrunning Tour titles are just a few of the additional accolades she’s secured.

That’s not to mention the brilliant track and field career she had before she turned her attention to stair climbing. You can read about that here (along with her 2007 ESBRU win).

The constant stream of praise for the humility and helpfulness of the most successful tower runner of all-time is further testament to the excellence of this fantastic ambassador for tower running.

walsham VWC 2019

These women, and many, many more besides, have each played their own important role in this sport. We’ve enjoyed researching and writing about each of them over the years and look forward to putting together many more articles about their fantastic achievements and the other incredible women in the world of tower running.

Comments
  1. napoleon says:

    you guys always have great write ups thanks

  2. MARSHA O'LOUGHLIN says:

    Towerruning Uk I I REMEMBER Nina from years ago and of course our very own Cindy also her as Cindy Moll your write ups are dead on keep up the great information

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