Archive for the ‘News’ Category

La verticale de la tour eiffel 2020

The organisers of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel have announced a massive change to the 2020 edition of the race, due to renovation work at the Eiffel Tower.

Instead of the traditional climb to the top of the 1,665-step tower, the new format looks like this:

  • 1st qualifying round – 131 competitors – 665 steps (to the second level)
  • 2nd qualifying round – 131 competitors – 665 steps
  • Final – 30 competitors (20 men, 10 women) – 665 steps

Qualifying rounds:

These will be held in a time trial format (runners set off every 10 seconds), with starting positions determined by the organisers.

The times from each run will be added together and the 20 men and 10 women with the shortest cumulative times will advance to a final run up to the second level of the tower.

You can see the timings between the two qualifying rounds and the final below. There will be 40 minutes between qualifying rounds and 60 minutes between the final qualifying run and the final.

La verticale de la tour eiffel 2020

The Final:

The final will be held in a pursuit format with the fastest athlete from the qualifying rounds setting off first. The time gap between setting off racers in the final is yet to be announced.

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The news will come as a disappointment to those who had applied with the hope of racing to the top of one of the world’s most iconic towers and the historic home of stair running.

Those who have pre-registered will have received an email with the news and have the option of cancelling their application for a full refund.

The pursuit format of the final could make for an interesting twist, especially if there is live coverage on the night showing the battle. However, the top level participants will be running the 665 steps in under three minutes and on the narrow stair case of the Eiffel Tower, there won’t be much too many opportunities for passing.

It’s unfortunate news, but it could lead to a more exciting event. It also increases the chances of someone other than five-time winners Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski winning again.

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Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019

Mark Bourne and Valentina Belotti put in showcase performances yesterday to take victory at the Towerrunning Tour Final at Shanghai Tower.

Australian Bourne clocked a PB of 17:33 to take first place in the world’s second-tallest building, finishing ahead of Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) who reached the top of the 3,398-step tower in 17:57.

It was the fourth win from four races in a little over four weeks for the sensational Bourne. With recent wins over Lobodzinski at Shanghai IFC (Oct. 20) and Osaka (Nov. 10), plus victory over world number two Soh Wai Ching at Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, Bourne headed into the race as favourite.

In the first half of the season, Bourne had lost four times on the trot to Lobodzinski, at Lotte World Tower (Seoul), Allianz Tower (Milan), Landmark 81 (Ho Chi Minh city) and Taipei 101.

But the Australian mountain running star stepped away from the stairs for five months, before returning in October to begin a run of dominating performances that culminated in his win yesterday at the biggest race of the year.

MarkBourne Shanghai 2019

 

‘After a busy week and not feeling 100%, I felt quite ordinary during the warm up. Luckily I trusted my training, got into a good rhythm and even managed a PB,’ said Bourne.

China’s Wenbo Zeng took third in 18:15.

Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019 top five men:

1. Mark Bourne (AUS) 17:33
2. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 17:57
3. Wenbo Zeng (CHN) 18:15
4. Qinhua Liu (CHN) 18:19
5. Wai Ching Soh (MYS) 18:26

Belotti wins super-close battle

Victory for Italy’s Valentina Belotti was a much closer affair. Her winning time of 20:50 was just four seconds ahead of Suzy Walsham (AUS).

The in-form Belotti, who already had a confidence-boosting win over Walsham at Ostankino Tower (Moscow) in August, managed to take 54 seconds off the time she clocked at the Shanghai Tower last year.

Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019 top five women:

1. Valentina Belotti (ITA) 20:50
2. Suzy Walsham (AUS) 20:54
3. Muhua Jian (CHN) 21:23
4. Linming Chen (CHN) 22:02
5. Brooke Logan (AUS) 22:28

Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski win Towerrunning Tour 2019

Beyond the focus of the head-to-head clashes between Bourne/Lobodzinski and Belotti/Walsham was the business of seeing who would end up top of the Towerrunning World Association rankings for 2019 and secure the title of Towerrunning Tour champion.

The combined total of the top eight results of each athlete throughout the year determine their position in the final TWA rankings.

With 240 points on the table in Shanghai a lot of positions were still up for grabs, in the men’s race in particular.

With her dominance throughout the year, only a complete disaster could have prevented Suzy Walsham taking her ninth title.

In order for the Australian to lose her grip on the trophy, Cindy Harris (USA) would have to win the race, and Walsham would have to finish in 16th place or lower. Given that Walsham hasn’t finished off the podium all year, this was never going to happen.

So, Walsham’s second-place finish was more than enough to see her win the title.

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I’m pretty happy to finish 2nd 🥈today (even though it was a close 4secs from the win and 20sec off my course record from last year) as I achieved my aim of sub-21min. My injury interrupted year means I’ve struggled a bit in the “super towers” (the 100+ floor buildings) and today I felt strong for about 90 floors…but when the race is 119 floors that just wasn’t enough!! * But today’s performance was more than enough to secure my 9th Towerrunning World Tour Championship 🏆 and finish the year with the World #1 ranking. * Big congrats to @markbournerun and @valerun80 for their stellar wins today, and to @towerrunner for securing yet another Towerrunning World title. It was great today to see so much depth in both the men’s and women’s races with 60 elites racing and big congrats to all – it’s one long, tough race. #world1 #worldtitle #worldtour #towerrunning #towerrunningworldtour #9worldtitles #toughrace #verticalrunning #stairrunning #athletelife #friends #nike #nikesg #alpnutrition #alpnutritionsport #chiroworkssg #chiroworksathlete #justdoit #shanghaitowerverticalmarathon #theonlywayisup

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Towerrunning Tour 2019 women’s standings:

1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) 1126
2. Cindy Harris (USA) 850
3. Muhua Jian (CHN) 750

For Piotr Lobodzinski the permutations were a little more pressing.

Having been forced to skip the 120-point race at the Menara TM in Kuala Lumpur in favour of the rescheduled Vertical World Circuit final in Osaka (Nov. 10), Lobodzinski had gifted Soh Wai Ching – who won that Kuala Lumpur race – an excellent opportunity to take the overall title in Shanghai.

If Lobodzinski finished in second as current form suggested he might, Wai Ching needed to finish in fourth to take the 2019 Tour title.

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The calm before the storm! Being flag off at the 2nd last with a 30s gap before the World No. 1 @towerrunner from Poland. The main objective is not to let him overtake me, and aim to overtake @alexistrujillo_atl from Mexico, where he started 30s in front of me. Started at a 113 bpm, maintain the whole journey comfortably and I knew I can hold this pace for a super long journey. Decided to speed up at some point of time as I found out the landing part took me 3 steps instead of 2 steps from what I forecasted or predicted based on the floor plan I have. You will never know whether the floor plan you have are actually the exactly correct one. So you have to always subject to variable change and adapting from time to time, react and respond fast when you see an odd number of steps in the flight, hop on triple steps so that you can save a beat, which in long term wise will lead to a big gain in time. It was a tough challenge and I started to love this course and understand more of it after 2nd time of running it. I will definitely be back next year to revenge for a sub 18 at least! Thanks everyone for the support! More stories up next. Thanks once again. #MasTowerRunner #MalaysiaTowerRunningAssociation

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Alternative finishing positions could have let Alexis Trujillo (MEX) and Görge Heimann (GER) sneak in for the overall title, too. There was a lot on the line.

But Wai Ching’s 18:26 finish was only good enough for fifth place, a mere seven seconds separating him from Qinhua Liu in fourth.

Lobodzinski’s second-place finish, then, was enough to secure him his sixth Towerrunning Tour title. Just 10 points separated the top two at the end of the season.

Towerrunning Tour 2019 men’s standings:

1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 964
2. Wai Ching Soh (MYS) 954
3. Alexis Trujillo (MEX) 864

Full Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019 results

Towerrunning UK 2019

From super-close battles between the UK’s best to record-breaking runs from international visitors, the 2019 UK tower running season has been an eventful one.

We reflect on the highlights from this year’s home races and consider what we can look forward to in 2020.

Sims still winning

The season got underway back on the 24th of February at The Christie’s Tower Run in Manchester.

UK veteran Mark Sims went head-to-head with David Harris for bragging rights at the 798-step Beetham Tower.

Having finished second at the event in 2017 and 2018, the Liverpool-based Sims was eager to finally make it to the top of the podium at the third attempt.

He took the first win of the year with a time of 4:29. Harris was mere seconds behind, clocking a massive PB to finish in 4:33.

The Christie Tower Run 2019 Mark Sims winner

In the women’s division, Spanish runner Marta Cosp set an event record with a winning time of 5:36. Cosp was followed by the previous event record holder Sonja Shakespeare in 5:55, while Elaine Battson was third in 6:03.

Unfortunately, we were to see no more of Cosp for the rest of the year. Another athlete with great potential lost to other disciplines because of a lack of tower running opportunities outside of London.

Laurence Ball makes his debut

One of the highlights of this season has undoubtedly been the emergence of Laurence Ball as a fantastic new tower running talent.

He made his debut on 2 March at the Great Ormond Street Hospital Stair Climb in London’s Walkie Talkie Building.

walkie_talkie_building_01

His 4:19 finish was the quickest on the day. Just a week after taking second in Manchester, David Harris was back in action, but had to settle for silver once again. This time the margin to top spot was just two seconds, as he crossed the line in 4:21.

laurence ball GOSH 2019

David Harris, Laurence Ball and Jamie Hall

In the women’s division, the UK’s top stair climber Sarah Frost got her season underway with a blistering sub five-minute finish that earned her first woman and fourth overall.

Sims vs Harris battle it out in Leicester
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St George’s Tower Leicester, venue for the Loros Tower Climb

It’s an unfortunate tradition of late that the bulk of the races in the sparsely-filled UK tower running calendar are crammed into February and March. So just two weeks after the season kicked off, we were already onto our third race.

A week after London’s first event of 2019, the action headed north to Leicester for the Loros Tower Climb (Mar.9).

Winner of the event in 2016 and 2017, Mark Sims had been narrowly beaten by Elliot Slaughter in 2018. With Slaughter absent from the line up (and disappointingly absent for the whole season), the race was expected to be a two-man battle between Sims and David Harris.

It took Sims two runs before he managed to clock a faster time than Harris, who had gone out in front with an excellent time of 1:33.26.

On Sims’ second climb he pulled out a PB to finish in 1:31.96 and take his second victory of the year.

Sarah Frost was also in Leicester. She smashed her own course record by almost six seconds, reaching the top of the 351 steps in 1:43.82.

Sarah Frost Loros Tower Run 2019

Sarah Frost sets off on her record breaking run in Leicester

Soh Wai Ching in London for Vertical Rush

Vertical Rush at Tower 42 is the flagship event of UK tower running and since 2009 it has played host to some of the world’s very best stair climbers.

Less than a week after the Loros Tower Run, all eyes were on the 932-step tower for the most popular race of the year (Mar. 14).

The world number two, Soh Wai Ching from Malaysia, was in attendance following his race at the Eiffel Tower the day before. So too was fellow elite runner, Michal Kovac.

Wai Ching took top spot in 4:17, followed by Kovac in 4:28.

Soh Wai-Ching Vertical Rush 2019

Soh Wait Ching – Vertical Rush 2019 winner

Rising star Mark Howard got his season off to a brilliant start, taking third in 4:48 – just a second ahead of Laurence Ball.

This race marked the first clash between Howard and Ball, which has been another highlight of the season.

In the women’s division, Susie Drinkwater defended the title she’d won on her tower running debut in 2018. She clocked a 30-second PB, to finish in 5:41.

Despite all the brilliant performances from emerging UK talent, there was the slightly depressing fact that over the course of less than three weeks, half of the big UK stair races in the 2019 calendar had already been run.

Vertical World Circuit in London

The London leg of the Vertical World Circuit (VWC) was held on 20 July at Broadgate Tower.

A solid contingent of top internationals were in the capital looking to secure points at the sixth event in the 10-race VWC series.

In the men’s division, Ryoji Watanabe from Japan was the biggest name on the start line. But Omar Bekkali, Takaaki Koyama, Mickael Pourcelot were also expected to feature among the top finishers.

Laurence Ball and Mark Howard were leading the charge for the UK.

In a massively fast race, which saw 16 men run under five minutes, the previous course record of 3:58 was smashed by Watanabe, who reached the top of the 877 steps in 3:41.

In the women’s division, Sarah Frost continued her excellent run of form to obliterate her own course record. She crossed the line in 4:40, a massive 24 seconds faster than her previous best time.

Four other women also ran under the previous record of 5:04, including the constantly improving Susie Drinkwater

All things being well, the Vertical World Circuit will return to Broadgate Tower in summer 2020. It’s a fantastic opportunity (the only one really) for UK runners to compete against top stair climbers from around the world on home soil.

Issues at the Gherkin

The 10th edition of the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge (Oct. 27) saw some controversy over the timing of the event. With live updates at the finish being cut on the day, runners were left in the dark about exactly how they’d got on.

When the results eventually went online the next day, there were big discrepancies between some of the times runners had clocked themselves doing and what their official listed time was.

After a bit of chopping and changing on the leaderboard by the timing company, the final standings showed that debutant Tommy Bryant had won the 2019 NSPCC Gherkin Challenge.

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Tommy Bryant – winner of the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge 2019

It was great to see David Harris back on the podium again after recovering from back surgery earlier in the year.

In the women’s division, Jasmine Van Niekerk, also making her tower running debut, took the win.

Hopefully we’ll see Bryant and Van Niekerk back on the stairs in 2020.

Ball and Howard battle at Leadenhall

The ‘final’ race of the season took place earlier this month (Nov. 7) at the Leadenhall Building (there’s another race on Nov. 27 at 1 Churchill Place aka Barclay’s Tower in the Docklands, but it’s only open to Barclay’s employees).

A much-anticipated end-of-season showdown between Laurence Ball and Mark Howard was the focus of the event.

The course record of 6:56, set by Howard in 2018, was expected to fall – but who was going to break it?

In a lightning-fast race, both men ran under that time, but it was Ball who set the new course record.

He climbed the 1,258 steps in 6:30, with Howard finishing slightly slower in 6:36.

Laurence Ball Mark Howard Grate48 2019

Laurence Ball and Mark Howard

It was a wonderful high to finish the season off on. A course record, a cherry on top of Ball’s amazing debut season and another exciting chapter in the Ball vs Howard rivalry we hope will continue across many more races for seasons to come.

In the women’s division, newcomer Nicola Henderson secured her first tower running victory. Building on her sixth place finish at the stacked Broadgate Tower Run Up in July, she ran a solid 8:33 at Leadenhall.

Nicola Henderson towerrunning

Henderson is another one to keep an eye on next year.

Looking forward to 2020

There are definitely things to be excited about as we head towards 2020.

Sarah Frost’s big push into international races this year was one of the best parts of 2019. She has been out as far as Japan to race and it’s fantastic to see a UK tower runner routinely making the top five in highly competitive international events. She only narrowly missed out on third place overall in the Vertical World Circuit.

The big race experience she’s gained this season will certainly benefit her in 2020, so we look forward to seeing more of Frost flying the flag for UK tower running next year.

Back in August, Laurence Ball put in a great showing at the UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava, Slovakia.

ufo vertical sprint 2019

In the three-run format, he managed to finish sixth in among far more experienced tower runners.

Hopefully he, and Mark Howard, will head out to more international races in 2020 to fly the flag for the UK.

The World Championship race at Taipei 101 in May would be a perfect place for all three of those to showcase their talents against the world’s best.

International athletes in London

The anticipated return of the Vertical World Circuit to London in July 2020 at Broadgate Tower is another thing to look forward to.

With Vertical Rush once again the day after La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, we might get to see some international stars in London in March.

But, we’re almost guaranteed to see a big group of them at the Broadgate Tower Run Up in July. With international racers almost never attending UK events anymore, having a decent bunch in attendance at at least one event is definitely a good thing.

Declining fortunes?

Earlier in the year we asked, does UK tower running have a future?

We’ve seen above that there’s plenty to be optimistic about in the UK tower running community. But there are problems, and how much impact some of those may have down the road remains to be seen.

First off, the Christie’s Tower Run in Manchester won’t be returning in 2020. That was one of only two races outside of the capital this year and its absence from next year’s calendar means people in the north of the country will have to travel down to Leicester or London if they want to race. Just as the sport looked to be genuinely expanding around the country, it’s now reversed that healthy position and appears to be shrinking.

Right now there are only five events confirmed for 2020 in our race calendar. At least a couple more will follow on – NSPCC Gherkin Challenge and probably Grate48 again – but it’s not exactly indicative of a growing sport when you only have a handful of opportunities to compete each year.

Two of those five events are scheduled to happen on the same day, and four of them will take place within a two week period from Feb.29 – Mar. 14.

It’s gotten to the point where we’re grateful there are any races at all, but having so many crammed within such a short amount of time is frustrating and disappointing.

There will be four months of inactivity until the Broadgate Tower Run-Up in July and then another long break until the Gherkin Challenge probably happens in October.

But let’s focus on the positives as we head into 2020. Hopefully we’ll see even bigger numbers than ever before at all of the listed events, growing interest in the sport and UK athletes making a mark on the global scene.

Thanks to all the tower runners and race organisers who’ve made the 2019 season a great one.

Eureka Tower stair climb 2019

Mark Bourne remains undefeated at the Eureka Tower in Melbourne after picking up his eighth win yesterday.

The Canberra man clocked his second fastest time at the tower since his debut in 2011, reaching the top of the 1,958-step building in 7:45.

Eureka Tower has played host to some great battles between the best Australian tower runners of the past decade. Between 2011 and 2017, Bourne went head-to-head with Darren Wilson and Scott McTaggart.

Bourne came out on top in each of those contests, setting the course record of 7:34 back in 2013.

With Wilson and McTaggart absent from the race in 2016 and 2017, Bourne had fairly straightforward, and slower, wins those years, failing to run under eight minutes for the first time since his first race at the building in 2011. He then skipped the 2018 edition.

Yesterday, with world ranked number two, Soh Wai Ching (MYS) behind Bourne on the start line, there was hopeful anticipation for a return to tight and competitive racing in Melbourne.

But Bourne was on another level as he pulled away from the Malaysian, who finished second in 8:58.

bourne and wai ching

Mark Bourne and Soh Wai Ching

It’s the third win in less than a month for the magisterial Bourne, after recently beating world number one Piotr Lobodzinski in Shanghai (Oct. 20) and Osaka (Nov. 10).

After taking more than a four-month break from tower running over the summer months, his return to the stairs in the past four weeks has been nothing short of astounding.

Next weekend he heads back to Shanghai for the TWA Tour Final, where you can expect to see him on the podium. If he wins, whatever the final rankings say, it will be hard to argue that he isn’t the top stair climber in the world right now.

Eureka Tower stair climb 2019 results

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walsham VWC 2019

Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski retained their Vertical World Circuit (VWC) titles yesterday at the grand finale in Osaka, Japan.

It was the eighth straight title for Australia’s Walsham, who first won the series back in 2012, and a sixth title for Piotr Lobodzinski.

The ten-event series has seen close races around the world throughout 2019. Starting in Seoul back in April, runners have since done battle in Milan, Ho Chi Minh City, Paris, New York, London, Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai before the final race on Sunday (Nov. 10) in Osaka.

The 1,610-step Abeno Harukas was the venue for the final event.

Heading into the race, Lobodzinski needed to place at least second to be certain of retaining his title. With a resurgent Mark Bourne (AUS) in the mix, and Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) seeking his first VWC title it was not an easy situation for the Polish world champion.

But in the end he did enough. Mark Bourne took the win with a new course record of 8:29 and Lobodzinski followed in 8:43. His second-place finish enough to earn him the overall Vertical World Circuit 2019 crown.

Harukas Skyrun men’s results:

  1. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 8:29
  2. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 8:43
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 9:02
  4. Kato Satoshi (JPN) – 9:19
  5. Liang Liang He (CHN) – 9:41

‘Of course, I wanted to win today, but my shape is not as good as in spring. Mark was better and I had no chance to win the race but the points I collected in the first part of the season were enough to secure my sixth title in a row so I’m very happy and glad to be on top for so long,’ Lobodzinski told reporters after the race.

Eight straight for Walsham

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And then there were 8! 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 When I was first crowned Vertical World Circuit champion at the end of the 2012 season, it was my first full successful year after pregnancy and I was excited to see where this newish sport would take me. While I try not to put limits on myself, I still never really expected to still be competing and doing well 8 years later! Despite my advancing years and the body not quite holding up like it used to, I still aim for improvement and I’m still as motivated and determined as ever in my training and racing. It’s not possible to have this kind of success year in, year out without an amazing team behind me. So a big thank you to: – @david_freer for your love, support, guidance, encouragement and for holding the fort at home when I am frequently away racing. – my family, friends and fellow athletes from all over the world who also encourage, support and motivate me. – the companies who help me be the best athlete I can be: @nike @drgarytho @alpnutrition_official @simplyactiveasia – the @verticalworldcircuit for organising the Circuit and supporting the athletes. A special shout out to @sportingrepublic and @dshinhk for managing/directing so many of the races. I’m already excited for 2020! #worldchampion #8times #verticalworldcircuit #vwc19 #nolimits #consistency #motivation #determination #beyourbest #neverstoptrying #nevergiveup #goals #dreams #fitnessmotivation #towerrunning #verticalrunning #justdoit #seeyouinthestairs #theonlywayisup

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In the final of the women’s event, Suzy Walsham only needed to finish in fifth place to be sure of winning an incredible eighth VWC title.

Giving her the title, then, was in part mere formality, as you probably have to go back to 2011 to find the last time the Australian star didn’t finish on the podium at a tower run.

But the race still had to be run and Walsham put in a blistering performance to take the win and finish in 10:18, just four seconds off the course record set by Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi in 2017.

Harukas Skyrun women’s results:

  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 10:18:
  2. Laura Manninen (FIN) – 11:07
  3. Yuko Tateishi (JPN) – 11:30
  4. Kumi Kinoshita (JPN) – 11:59
  5. Mie Takahashi (JPN) – 12:02

‘I’m thrilled to win here in Osaka at the 2019 Vertical World Circuit final and achieve my eighth straight world title,’ said Walsham. ‘I had a strong run, although I was a little disappointed to just miss the record, but it’s hard to be at your absolute peak for every race. It’s been a great year of racing and I’m already looking forward to VWC 2020!’

2019 Vertical World Circuit final standings:
Men

  1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 567 points
  2. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 561 points
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 539.5 points
  4. Emanuele Manzi (ITA) – 454 points
  5. Omar Bekkali (BEL) – 420 points

Women

  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 600 points
  2. Laura Manninen (FIN) – 533 points
  3. Yuko Tateishi (JPN) – 461.5 points
  4. Sarah Frost (GBR) – 449.5 points
  5. Cristina Bonacina (ITA) – 359 points

Leadenhall Building Grate48

Laurence Ball set a new course record at the Leadenhall Building in London yesterday (Nov. 7), taking victory at the Grate48 stair climb event.

The emerging star of UK tower running set a new best time of 6:30 at the 1,258-step and 48-floor tower in the City of London.

The previous record of 6:56 had been set by Mark Howard in April, 2018. Howard also managed to go well under that time yesterday, as he clocked 6:36 to take second place. Will Obeney was third in 7:21.

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Congratulations to these two for taking victory at @rainbowtrustcc #Grate48 at The @cheesegraterldn yesterday with @lb_2020 building on his victory at The Walkie Talkie earlier this year, and second at Broadgate Tower, with a win and new course record! (Congrats to @howardhike too for also smashing his own course record to finish second). . Massive congratulations also to @nicolahendersonofficial who recorded her first race victory to cap what has been a remarkable year. . 🏃🏃🔝🔝🙌🙌🧡🧡 . Grate48 closes the Towerrunning season in the UK for 2019, but expecting big things from these two and all @tm_towerrunners in 2020. Rest, recover, go again! . 📸 @lb_2020 . #totalmotiontowerrunners

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It was Ball’s second win of the year, after he finished in top spot at the Walkie Talkie building back in March. He also managed fourth place at Vertical Rush, and second at the stacked Broadgate Tower Run-Up in July.

Given that this was the final UK race of 2019, it was a fitting end to what has been a stellar debut year for the UK athlete.

The growing rivalry between Mark Howard and Laurence Ball is definitely the most exciting development in UK tower running right now. Expect more close-run battles and new course records in 2020.

You can find the full Grate48 2019 standings in our results hub.

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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