Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Kamila Chomanicova won for the second year in a row at the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run in Austria on Saturday.

In a repeat of last year’s event, Slovakia’s Chomanicova managed to edge out two-time winner and course record holder Veronika Windisch to hold on for a well-earned victory.

Chomanicova reached the top of the tower in 2:38.61 with Austrian Windisch clocking 2:48.34.

Kenyan newcomer Veronicah Maina completed the podium with a decent 3:02.18 finish on her debut.

It was the fourth edition of the challenging event that sees runners set off up a 180m incline before entering the Pyramidenkogel Tower and scaling its 441 steps.

The Slovakian star edges ever closer to the 2:35.32 course record set by Veronika Windisch back in 2018. Chomanicova has been steadily lowering her times year-on-year at the Pyramidenkogel: 3:02 in 2018, 2:47 in 2019, 2:43 in 2020 and 2:38 in 2021.

You might also be interested in:

Enrique Santamaria Martinez and Alba Xandri will return to the 2,180-step Montserrat Funicular in Collbató, Spain on Saturday 5th June to defend the titles they won at the event in 2019.

Santamaria Martinez, who also finished third in 2018, will face off against the returning course record holder and 2018 winner Joan Freixa Marcelo.

Enrique Santamaria Martinez sets off on his winning run in 2019

Freixa Marcelo won the Firefighter division at the 2019 event, completing the course in full safety gear. But this year the multi-athlete from Cardona will be back in the Open category, seeking to reclaim his crown.

He is one of only two athletes to have run the course in under 12 minutes, with his record standing at 11:38.

Runners will set off up the stairway at 90 second intervals, starting at 9am.

David Soler Sucarrats, who finished just eight seconds behind Santamaria Martinez in 2019, is also set to compete at Saturday’s event.

So too is veteran tower and mountain runner Ignacio Cardona Torres. He took second in the Masters category at the Spanish Trail Running Championship in April, so expect to see him put in a solid performance.

Freixa Marcelo will be the last man to set off in the Open division. Santamaria Martinez will start just ahead of him, guaranteeing a fantastic finish to the third edition of this stunning outdoor stair race.

Joan Freixa Marcelo winning Vertical Montserrat 2018

The race up the service stairs alongside the Montserrat Funicular was postponed twice in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ongoing situation has reduced the field slightly, with fewer international runners in the line-up compared with 2019. French athlete Joris Jacquard is one of the familiar non-Spanish runners set to make an appearance.

In the women’s division, two-time winner Alba Xandri is back to try and make it three wins in a row.

Alba Xandri on her way to winning Vertical Monserrat in 2019

The impressive Spanish mountain runner and cyclist was a clear winner in 2019, finishing over 90 seconds ahead of Rosa Maria Nieto Zamora.

Her winning time of 14:17 is the course record.

Disappointingly, Zamora who was set to compete in 2020 is not on the list of runners set to take part in 2021.

Some familiar names to look out for are Cristina Bonacina (ITA), Laure Chardin (FRA) and Marta Cosp Morata (ESP), who won the Beetham Tower stair race in Manchester, England back in 2019.

Tower running world champion Suzy Walsham sat down for a chat with Coach Mike from Recovery Systems and it’s a great insight into the approach and attitude of the world’s number one stair runner.

In it Suzy discusses her earlier career in cross country and track and field, injuries and resilience, pacing for stair races, and how she makes use of cross training. There’s lots of good stuff in this chat, and it’s well worth a watch.

You might also be interested in:

This excellent documentary tells the story of Fred Lebow’s involvement in the New York Road Runners club and his work in establishing the New York City Marathon in 1970.

As President of the NYRR, Lebow also organised the first Empire State Building Run-Up in 1978. Faced with derision as the first race was branded a gimmick, he nevertheless persevered with the ESBRU.

He was determined to turn it into a firm fixture on the sporting calendar in New York. In 1979 he told reporters the race would soon become an event as accepted as the New York City Marathon and that a 10-minute climb up the Empire State would rival the legendary four‐minute mile as a goal for world‐class runners.

The sport of tower running owes Fred Lebow a lot.

The documentary is mostly about his life and work in promoting road running, but there is some archive footage from the Empire State Building Run-Up in there too, as well as interviews with former ESBRU and NYC Marathon champions Nina Kuscsik and Gary Muhrcke.

The Covid-19 pandemic tore up the UK stair racing calendar in 2020, and it’s looking like it might write off much of the 2021 season too.

Read on for the updates we have on the stair races that likely would have happened in more normal times.

Vertical Rush @ Tower 42

Looking ahead to next year, perhaps the biggest disappointment is the news that Vertical Rush will not be happening.

The UK’s flagship tower running event was cancelled in March 2020 and Shelter have given us word that it won’t happen in March 2021 either. The loss of the biggest stair race in the UK is a huge one.

GOSH Walkie Talkie Tower Climb

The spring time event in London is currently up in the air.

Back in August, GOSH told us, “We are putting some plans in place to see how the tower climb can work in a COVID-19 world. The event is pencilled in for the beginning of March, so keeping all fingers crossed, it’s looking positive.”

We’ve heard nothing since and they’ve made no announcement as yet. Heading into the new year, and with London going back into Tier 3 measures again this week, it seems unlikely that a race will happen at the start of March. But let’s see.

Regardless, you can register your interest for the potential event here.

LOROS Tower Run, Leicester

This event typically happens in March, but not in 2021.

The organisers are optmistic they can still put on an event, but in 2021 they expect that if it happens it will be later on in the year.

Broadgate Tower Run Up, London

There’s been no word yet on this event happening in 2021.

The forced rescheduling and eventual cancellation of this event in 2020 was a major disappointment.

The organiser will obviously be super keen to have it run as usual in the summer, but it’s wait and see with this big event. Fingers crossed.

Spinnaker Tower Run-Up

Covid-19 put paid to this new event in 2020, but we got optimistic word from the organiser last month that this race would be going ahead in April 2021. But with things changing so quickly, you just don’t know.

We’re expecting to hear an update on this soon, so keep an eye out for that.

We’ll be updating our race calendar as and when news of events come in.

You might also be interested in:

Racing up stairs in 18th century London

A history of the Empire State Building Run-Up

Singapore has a long tower running history, with the first edition of the Swissotel Vertical Marathon taking place way back in 1987.

Over three decades later and a new group of tower running enthusiasts in Singapore are working to take the sport to new heights.

We caught up with the Towerrunning Association of Singapore to find out a bit more about who’s who in the organisation and what its goals are.

TRUK: Congratulations on getting officially registered earlier this year. Tell us about your plans for the Association and for the sport of tower running in Singapore?

TAS: Singapore is a recognised global hub for air travel, shipping, and finance and it’s our aim that one day it be considered an international hub of tower running. The Towerrunning Association of Singapore has managed to become a focal point of an already thriving underground tower running scene.

There are groups and individuals all over Singapore who are training in their local HDBs (Housing Development Board buildings) who often caught the tower running bug at one of the several high profile races which were (prior to COVID) taking place annually, such as the Swissotel Vertical Marathon, National Vertical Marathon and multiple other local community HDB and charity events.

Thomas Dold at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon 2009

There are many members of our association who have travelled internationally to races in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, USA, Malaysia and more, which makes us one of the most well travelled tower running associations in the world.

We plan to raise the profile of the sport in Singapore, develop a local stable of athletes and race against the best in the region (especially our close friends in the Malaysia Towerrunning Association who are developing their own group of strong athletes). Obviously, we’ll have to wait until the COVID situation improves so that races may open up again.

TRUK: What’s happening right now with TAS? From Instagram it looks like you guys are having regular meet ups and training sessions.

TAS: Since the virus has been brought under control in Singapore we are looking at relaunching our regular training sessions, and planning for future events. We host regular training sessions once a week on Saturdays, and have another training session during the week for the hardcore members who want to do more.

During this period we have to make sure to adhere to certain COVID restrictions still in place which mean we can train in one stairwell with a group of no more than five people, and keep proper social distancing measures.

Singapore is blessed with having ample training grounds for tower runners. To understand why, we have to go back a little in history. Prior to 1960, Singapore’s landscape was predominately low-rise, as local villages known as kampungs made up of wooden single houses known were the norm.

However, in 1961 after the largest fire in Singapore’s history gutted an entire kampung leaving 16,000 homeless, the Singapore government vowed to transform public housing with the establishment of the Housing Development Board, or HDB.

The end result is that Singapore went vertical, building thousands of high-rise concrete buildings in which 80% of Singaporeans live today. Many of these HDB buildings are 40 floors or higher with open stairwells, offering the ideal place to train. In fact Singapore has over 10,000 HDB blocks of over 10 storeys which people can use to stair train.

We’re lucky that we have access to multiple 40/50 storey HDB blocks (130m) and even a 69-floor private condo block to train (220m). We don’t think there are many training groups around the world who have such easy access to these high-rise buildings.

As we continue to train, we look to increase our membership and build more awareness toward our sport. We often see random people train on stairs when we train at different locations. Many are not aware of our Association, so we’d like to reach out and encourage them to join.

Singapore also has a large population of runners and sports enthusiasts of all kinds, and we hope to entice some to cross over to the world of tower running. Although tower running in general remains a niche sport, we hope to change that perception.

Back to our latest plans. We recently did a few time trial events that were successful and look to do more in the future. We also have the year end coming up and may do another Christmas climb which proved to be popular last year. We also have our AGM coming up in the spring next year.

TRUK: Tell us a bit about who’s who in the Towerrunning Association of Singapore

TAS: We have 13 founding Association members who come from all nationalities and backgrounds. Just to name a few, our President Eddie Tan is a seasoned veteran with 10+ years of tower running experience and many international races under his belt.

SC Tan, our Secretary, has been a dedicated stair climber for 10+ years as well. We have Michele Tan, one of the fastest female tower runners in Malaysia, Rich Sirrs, former UK number one who moved to Singapore a few years back, and Mateusz Dolata from Poland.

Charles Supapodok, an American, started stair climbing late in life but competes internationally and has posted some fast times recently. Mark Budweciz is an Aussie who has placed well in regional competitions so far. Kai Peng, our Association’s treasurer is the youngest in our group, but is a rising star.

Our remaining founding members came to know one another through regular tower running sessions. They too shared the same desire as the rest of us in promoting this sport further.

TRUK: How’s Singapore’s race calendar looking for 2021? Will you guys have events on over there?

TAS: So far it doesn’t look like there will be any events in 2021 until the COVID situation improves. Singapore moved into its Phase 2 reopening on June 19th, where it remains today. Phase 3 would increase the size for group activities from 5 to 8, but this does not seem enough to allow for races to resume. For the time being we don’t see any races happening in 2021, unfortunately. ■

You can keep up to date with the Towerrunning Association of Singapore on Instagram and Facebook.

You might also be interested in:

In the build up to his Guinness World Record run last month, Malaysia’s tower running superstar Soh Wai Ching took on a unique challenge at the offices of LILA in Kuala Lumpur.

The world number two took the stairs wearing a weighted vest, while the head of sales at LILA took the elevator to see if he could beat Wai Ching to the top of the company’s office building.

Watch the fun video below to see who came out on top. Or follow this link.

You might also be interested in:

Looking for stair climbing inspiration or hoping to keep up to date with the latest news from the the global tower running community? Well, we’ve got you covered with some recommendations for Instagram accounts to follow.

If you’re already following the five tower running accounts on Instagram we suggested last year, then you might be interested in these next five too.

Christof Grossegger @__stairs_up__

This Austrian multi-athlete was one of the most active stair climbers in the ruined 2020 season, taking wins at Pyramidenkogel and Tek Na Kalvarijo. Austria has produced some of the world’s top tower runners over the years and Grossegger is one of the country’s exciting new breed. His feed is full of regular action shots from his exploits in stair running, mountain biking and Red Bull 400.

Takaaki Koyama @mt.yamako

Another emerging star, this time from Japan. Takaaki Koyama has firmly established himself as one to watch in the growing Asian tower running scene. If you want to keep an eye on all things vertical running in Japan, then Koyama’s your man. Follow Tower Running Tokyo while you’re at it for even more insight.

Stair Climbing Australia @stair_climbing_australia

If you’ve been involved in stair climbing much you’ll know there’s a super-friendly community at all levels. Stair Climbing Australia’s account does a brilliant job of bringing those good vibes across virtually. Whether it’s funny, informative or inspirational posts, they’ve always got something worth checking in on. Its virtual stair climb challenges this year have kept many tower runners busy and entertained. Probably the most active stair climbing account on Instagram.

Tomas Celko @tomascelko

The ‘Wim Hof’ of tower running, Tomas Celko is never far from freezing cold water these days. So a word of caution, you might just find yourself stripping down and hopping into an ice bath soon after following his account. One of the sprint kings of stair climbing, Celko has battled back from injury this year to get back toward fitness. Join the 10k+ people following his journey back to the top in 2021.

Towerrunning Singapore @towerrunningsingapore

Singapore has a rich tower running history that dates back to 1987. The growth of the sport out there is now in the hands of the newly-formed Towerrunning Association of Singapore and we’re expecting exciting developments from them over the next few years. Its Instagram account is yet to blow up, but get in before it was cool and follow them now.

You might also be interested in:

Ryoji Watanabe set a new course record at Tokyo Tower on Sunday, becoming the first person to run the 500-step course in under two minutes.

Watanabe finished in a fantastic 1:59.98 to reach the top ahead of the chasing Takaaki Koyama.

Ryoji Watanabe Tokyo Tower
Ryoji Watanabe lies flat out after his winning run at Tokyo Tower

The exciting event more than lived up to pre-race expectations, with a close race highly anticipated.

The in-form Koyama set a personal best 2:07.09 as he followed shortly behind Watanabe.

You can see the strong finish from both athletes in the video below.

Behind Koyama, Akie Yajima finished third in 2:10.13, with 2016 champion Naoya Endo in fourth. Hiroichi Uesugi finished in fifth place.

Tokyo Tower hosts one of the final Asian tower races of 2020 this coming Sunday.

It’s the ninth edition of the popular event in Japan, that sees runners sprint up 500 steps.

In the men’s event there is potentially an exciting clash of former champions. Japanese number one tower runner Ryoji Watanabe (2017 and 2018 champion), Takaaki Koyama (2019), and Naoya Endo (2016) are all on the provisional start list.

Takaaki Koyama reaches the top of Tokyo Tower to win in 2019

Koyama is heading into the event following a strong win last weekend at the Sapporo TV Tower, so will definitely be in good form.

Ryoji Watanabe won the event in 2017 and 2018

Watanabe, who finished third overall on the Vertical World Circuit in 2019, hasn’t raced on the stairs for months but did win ahead of Koyama at the Building Climb Cup race in Niigata back in January.

If Watanabe is anywhere near being in top condition, he will be the man to beat on Sunday. He ran an incredible 2:01 to win in 2018, finishing 16 seconds ahead of Koyama.

Takaaki Koyama took first place at the first edition of the Sapporo TV Tower Vertical Run in Japan.

The new event, which had been rescheduled due to Covid-19 restrictions, involved two runs up 442 steps.

The experienced Koyama showed impressive consistency as he clocked 1:50 in his first run, followed by 1:49 in his second for a total winning time of 3:39.

Takaaki Koyama at the start line

Koyama finished narrowly ahead of Koki Tanaka (3:43), who clocked the fastest single run of the day, a time of 1:48 with his second attempt. But with his initial run a slightly slower 1:55, it left him four seconds behind overall.

A section of the stairs at the Sapporo TV Tower

The battle for the final podium spot was very closely contested. In the end it was Yusuke Tanaka who sealed it with his 3:59 total. Fourth spot went to Hirokazu Uesugi (4:01) and Hitotsubashi Seiya (4:02) was in fifth place.

Sapporo TV Tower

In the women’s division, Japanese international triathlete Airi Sawada proved herself a force on the stairs, taking victory in 5:23 (2:45 and 2:38). She was 20 seconds faster overall than second-placed Moeko Yasugahira.

Airi Sawada and Takaaki Koyama celebrate winning the Sapporo TV Tower Vertical Run 2020

Christof Grossegger and Martina Potrč were the fastest finishers at the 454-step Tek Na Kalvarijo in Maribor, Slovenia on Saturday.

Austria’s Grossegger put in a brilliant performance to dip under the coveted 1:50 marker on his way to victory in a time of 1:49.33.

He chopped a massive eight seconds off the time he set at last year’s event, where he finished in third place.

Christof Grossegger on his way to victory at Tek Na Kalvarijo

“It was a gorgeous race today,” said Grossegger. “I started a little bit too fast and suffered at the last few steps – but I’m still very satisfied.”

“This staircase is really special. At the beginning it’s relatively flat, but the longer you run the steeper it gets. Just brutal. I was completely destroyed at the finish area for at least 20 minutes.”

The Covid-19 pandemic and a calendar clash with the popular Smarna Gora mountain race, also in Slovenia, meant the field of runners at Saturday’s stair race was slightly diminished.

2019 champion Klemen Španring opted to compete at Smarna Gora, as did last year’s fourth-place finisher Matjaz Miklosa, meaning some of Grossegger’s toughest rivals were missing from the action.

But, regardless, it would have taken a special performance to deny the in-form Austrian from taking victory.

Already boosted by his win at the Pyramidenkogel back in September, Grossegger was further full of fire following the strategic mishap in the qualifiers at the previous weekend’s Red Bull 400 Bischofshofen, which cost him a spot in the final.

As such he was untouchable in Maribor, with Martin Höck (2:02) and Uroš Pinter (2:03) rounding out the podium some way behind the Austrian.

Tek Na Kalvarijo men’s top three (image: Zdrava Zabava)

In the women’s division, Martina Potrč was also a clear winner as she finished the course in 2:31.

Martina Potrč on her way to victory

Second place went to Špela Jelovčan, fresh from her course record breaking run at Juriš na Hmezad a fortnight ago. She clocked 2:45.

Third place went to Valentina Videčnik who ran the 454 steps in 3:04.

See all the results from Tek Na Kalvarijo 2020.

Christof Grosseger and Rok Kuserbanj will be among the top athletes in Maribor, Slovenia on Saturday competing for top spot at the 11th edition of Tek Na Kalvarijo.

The 454-step outdoor race has been switched from its traditional atmospheric Friday night setting and will now take place on Saturday morning.

2019 champion Klemen Španring will not be returning to defend his title on the weekend. The Slovenian mountain runner will instead be competing at Smarna Gorna, one of the biggest mountain races on the international calendar.

Part of the course in Maribor

That leaves the door open for the in form Christof Grossegger to do better than the third-place finish he earned at last year’s race.

Grossegger recently took a confidence boosting win at the Pyramidenkogel in his native Austria.

But a mishap at last weekend’s Red Bull 400 race in Bischofshofen, Austria has left Grossegger frustrated and ready to make up for it.

“I can’t wait to do the race”, Grossegger told Tower Running UK.

“Confidence is of course pretty high, because I am in good shape. But my motivation is also high, because I’m angry about last weekend.

“I missed the finals at the Red Bull 400 because I tried to save as much energy as possible in the qualification run. But in the end I missed the cut-off time by one second. I really saved energy by going that slow – but for nothing.

“So therefore, new tactics for Maribor – just full gas from bottom to the top.

“I will miss the night race and the special colorful lights. It was an incredible atmosphere last year.”

In among those looking to compete with Grossegger will be Slovenia’s Rok Kuserbanj.

He won a couple of weeks back at the 265-step Juriš na Hmezad in Zalec, Slovenia, dethroning the two-time winner Rene Sluga.

Kuserbanj also held off the challenge of Simon Kmet at that race, who finished third.

Kmet took second at Tek Na Kalvarijo in 2019, so expect to see Kuserbanj finish higher than the 10th place finish he earned last year.

Also expect to see four-time winner Matjaz Miklosa among the tough Slovenian runners competing strongly for the podium, having narrowly missed out on third spot last year.

Špela Jelovčan set a new course record at the third edition of Juriš na Hmezad in Zalec, Slovenia on Saturday.

Jelovčan ran the 265-step course with the required 5kg bag of hops on her back in 1:29.78, to take five seconds off the previous best time set by fellow Slovenian Petra Pogačar at last year’s event.

It was a huge improvement for the athlete from Polhov Gradec who finished fourth at the race in 2019.

Jelovčan was a clear winner, finishing 15 seconds ahead of Maruša Stermecki (1:44.96) in second. Karmen Štih took third in 1:49.23.

Špela Jelovčan sets off on her record-breaking run at Juriš na Hmezad
Kuserbanj puts an end to Sluga’s winning run

Rok Kuserbanj put in a solid run in the men’s race to stop Austria’s Rene Sluga from winning Juriš na Hmezad for the third time in a row.

Course record holder Sluga was the pre-race favourite coming into Saturday’s event, but Kuserbanj put in a powerful run to shock the Austrian and take first place with a 1:12.95 finish.

Kuserbanj had finished second behind the experienced Sluga in 2018 and then took third in 2019. The athlete from Braslovče finally completed his collection of every podium position with this impressive win.

The men’s top six (plus Karmen Štih, 3rd woman) at Juriš na Hmezad 2020

Rene Sluga was just over one second behind, finishing in 1:14.01. Simon Kmet was third in 1:16.69.

For more race-day images, head to Atletsko tekaško društvo Savinjčan ŽALEC.

Jasmina Klančnik will return to Zalec, Slovenia for the third edition of Juriš na Hmezad on Saturday to try and reclaim the title she won in 2018.

The Slovenian athlete took sixth place last year as Petra Pogačar came out on top at what is one of the more unique races on the tower running circuit.

Competitors must run up 265 steps to the top of the Hmezad building in Zalec all while carrying an awkward five-kilogram bag of hops on their backs.

The Hmezad building in Zalec

Pogačar set a new record of 1:34 last year, taking two seconds off the 1:36 best that Klancnik clocked in 2018.

It should be an exciting event on the weekend as the Slovenians battle it out in what will be the last stair race to go ahead before a two week break of no races.

Athletes have to run up 265 stairs with one of these awkward sacks on their backs

Check out some of the action from the 2018 event in the video below and be sure to check us out on Facebook or Instagram for the results on the weekend.