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* Update: a few hours after writing this race preview, Vertical Montserrat 2020 was cancelled. New Covid-19 restrictions were implemented in Catalonia, meaning the race can no longer go ahead.

Enrique Santamaria Martinez and Alba Xandri will return to the 2,180-step Montserrat Funicular in Collbató, Spain this Saturday 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 last year’s 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 at last year’s race, is also set to compete at Saturday’s event.

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 originally scheduled for the end of March, but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ongoing situation has reduced the field slightly, with fewer international runners in the line-up compared with last year. French athlete Joris Jaquard 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 last year, finishing over 90 seconds ahead of Rosa Maria Nieto Zamora.

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

Nieto Zamora will also be back in action again on Saturday, but she will need her rival to have a massive off day in order to stop her winning a third title.

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.

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.

It was third time lucky for Ondřej Tesař on Saturday as he finally finished on top of the podium at the Krnovsky Run Up.

Tesař had finished third at the event in 2018 and 2019, but came out victorious on Saturday following a day of close battles with Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec.

It was the fourth edition of the 218-step stair race at Cvilinske schody in Krnov, Czech Republic.

The unique and exciting race format began with a qualifier to find the fastest 16 men and women. This was followed by quarters, semis and a grand final to determine the overall winners.

Tesař got his campaign off to an impressive start, clocking 58:37 in the qualifier to finish second fastest. He was just behind one of his predicted rivals and fellow Czech, Pavel Holec.

Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec, who was making his debut at the event, took it a little easier in the qualifiers as he got a feel for the course. He clocked 1:07.12 to qualify as the seventh fastest male.

Quarter-final showdowns

The action picked up in the next round when Mrowiec and Tesař were paired off against each other in the second quarter-final.

Mrowiec finished narrowly ahead of his Czech rival, with both men advancing to the semis.

In the fourth quarter-final, Jan Keclík and Petr Lisník had to push hard to secure their spot in the semis, with both men clocking sub one-minute times.

Pavel Holec won his quarter-final by a comfortable three-second margin to advance as one of the final eight men.

Holec fastest in the semi-finals

Holec stepped things up again in the first semi-final, winning in 1:00.24. He was followed by Lisník who qualified for the final by the narrowest of margins, reaching the top of the stairs just over half a second faster than the hometown favourite Luděk Slonina.

In the second semi, Mrowiec was once again battling it out with Tesař.

As he had in the quarter-final, the Pole reached the top of the 218 steps shortly before Tesař, clocking 1:05.17 to the Czech’s 1:07.58.

Everything was set up for a fantastic final sprint between three of the pre-race favourites.

The finalists: Pavel Holec, Ondřej Tesař, Petr Lisník and Kacper Mrowiec (all images courtesy of Cvilinske Schody)
Tesař saves the best for last

Mrowiec (#141) blasted off in the final, taking a narrow lead early on.

Kacper Mrowiec (#141) gets out in front early on in the final race

But Tesař kept him within touching distance before pushing ahead towards the end.

The video below shows you just how close the end of the brilliant final race was.

Tesař took victory with a time of 58:74, followed by Mrowiec in 59:91 and Pavel Holec in 1:00.63. Petr Lisník was a little further back, finishing in 1:04.36.

Kacper Mrowiec got back to winning ways last weekend at the Świdnicki Bieg na Wieżę Ratuszową (Swidnica Run to the Town Hall Tower) in Poland.

It was the seventh edition of the race, which begins with a loop around Swidnica market square (approx. 400m), followed by a sprint up 222 stairs to the top of the town hall tower.

Mrowiec completed the event in 1:57, edging out the 2018 winner Bartłomiej Wojsław who finished in 1:59.

2017 and 2019 champion Mateusz Zalewski (2:05) was kept off the podium by Konrad Dzierżonowski (2:04).

The market square and tower in Swidnica, Poland

In the women’s division, Katarzyna Budziszewska smashed the course record by 10 seconds with her 2:18 finish.

Kamila Chomanicova and Christof Grossegger were winners at the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run in Austria on Friday.

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 2:43.11 with Austrian Windisch clocking 2:49.77.

Barbara Bischof (2:53.43) was the only other woman to finish under the three-minute mark.

Chomanicova wins the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run 2020

It was the third 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 win was the second in six days for the fast-improving Chomanicova, following her sprint victory in Levoca the previous Saturday.

The Slovakian star has been chopping away at her times year-on-year at the Pyramidenkogel: 3:02 in 2018, 2:47 in 2019 and 2:43 in 2020.

“I was aiming for the podium, and also wanted to improve my time from last year”, said Chomanicova. “I knew that Veronika wasn’t in the best shape, so that was the chance to do my best and to be the fastest woman.”

Chomanicova has decided to defer her place at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, so will not compete at the rescheduled event in Paris at the end of the month.

She may next compete at the 218-step Krnovsky Run Up in the Czech Republic next weekend (19 September).

Third time lucky for Grossegger

After finishing second in 2018 and 2019, Christof Grossegger finally took first place at the Pyramidenkogel Tower Run with a commanding run on Friday.

Grossegger clocked a personal best of 2:04.68 to finish a comfortable six seconds ahead of fellow Austrian Alexander Brandner-Egger who completed the course in 2:10.86.

Slovenia’s Matjaz Miklosa took third in 2:14.31, with Pavel Holec (2:16.78) and Kacper Mrowiec (2:17.04) rounding out the top five.

“Pyramidenkogel is always a tough race”, said Grossegger, “because the first approximately 180m are just a normal asphalt street – and you have to hit already really fast – otherwise there’s no chance to gain a good time.

“This is so untypical for a stair race. You don’t have any rhythm from the start.

“The last four levels were just blown up. My legs were completely destroyed.”

Pyramidenkogel Tower Run 2020 results

Kacper Mrowiec and Christof Grossegger will be among the top tower runners racing at the Pryramidenkogel Tower on 11 September.

Back for its third edition, the race at the distinctive 441-stair tower will be the first in Austria since pandemic-related restrictions were eased.

With the winners from the previous events, Tomas Celko (2018) and Jakob Meyer (2019), not racing, the door is open for the Austrian Grossegger to finally take first place.

Grossegger finished second at the event in 2018 and 2019, and is one of only four men to have run the course in under 2:10.

It will be his first race since lockdown restrictions were eased and he has played down his chances of going as fast as his previous two efforts, telling Tower Running UK:

“I didn’t do that much special stair running training this year. After the cancellation of the Eiffel Tower run at the beginning of March, I just did sports for fun. Did a lot of mountain biking – really a lot! I’ve tried to switch back to running the last three weeks

“This year’s edition of Pyramidenkogel for me is just for fun! No special goal – just enjoy racing – and go full speed up.”

Christof Grossegger diving for the finish at the 4Stairs event in Austria in 2019

Among Grossegger’s rivals will be Kacper Mrowiec, who will be making his debut.

The Polish newcomer is heading into the event race ready, having had two sprint races on the stairs in the past three weeks – in Warsaw, Poland and last weekend in Levoca, Slovakia.

He finished fourth in both, so will be eager to get a podium finish under his belt.

Favouring the longer courses, the additional step count plus an uphill pre-run into the tower should suit Mrowiec.

“I’m feeling better than before Leicester in March [Mrowiec took second at LOROS Tower Run],” he told us. “Training looks better, so I’ve got a hope for a high place. This distance will be better for me than my last two tower runs.”

Another Austrian athlete to keep an eye out for is Markus Karlin who took a surprising third place at last year’s event, with a 2:11.08 finish.

Expect Karlin to be firmly back in the mix for an even higher finish this time around.

After 2019’s star-studded competition, the hope was for a similar level of competition this year. Unfortunately, many of the big names on the start list will no longer be racing.

Mrowiec’s compatriot Mateusz Marunowski (4th in 2019) is now not expected to attend, despite being named on the start list. Likewise, the UK’s Laurence Ball has pulled out of the race. Stefan Stefina from Slovakia (5th in 2019) is also unlikely to compete.

Check out this excellent video from last year’s event:

Kamila Chomaničová set a new course record on the stairs of St James’ Basilica in Levoca as she repeated her victory from last year.

The Slovakian clocked 1:05.68 as she ran up 216 stairs to the top of the church tower.

In doing so, Chomaničová took over four seconds off the winning time she set at last year’s inaugural event.

In the men’s division, Marek Šoltés also defended the crown he secured in 2019 with a record-breaking run.

Šoltés set a new fastest time of 53.82, eclipsing his previous best of 55.21.

The Slovakian needed to be quick, as his compatriot Stefan Stefina came within touching distance with a 55.36 finish.

Jozef Gura made it an all-Slovak podium, while Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec was fourth.

Beh na vežu 2020 results

Soh Wai Ching aims to set a new world record in November when he takes on the challenge of achieving the greatest vertical height stair climbing in one hour.

The Asian No 1 from Malaysia will target the record of 1.227 km set by Spain’s David Robles Tapia in 2019.

Wai Ching, who is currently training for the rescheduled La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris (30 September), is yet to officially announce the building he will make his world record attempt in.

“I’m still looking for an iconic building. I wish to do it in Petronas Twin Towers or Four Seasons Place KL, but I need to inspect the stairs first before officially announcing the building. The barriers are that I need to convince the building owner or the management to allow me to use it as a venue for this Guinness World Record attempt.”

Petronas Twin Towers where Soh Wai Ching hopes to attempt his world record

“Me and my team have met the Four Seasons Place KL General Manager. They agree but they are currently arranging another round of meetings to discuss with property owners, as the building comprises hotels, apartments and shopping malls. Also my friend is helping to connect us with a representative from Petronas Twin Towers.

“Other than that, I’m currently looking at other hotels like WKL Hotel and new residences like Star Residences KLCC and hope to be able to schedule a meet up with the person in charge and convince them to allow me to use the stairs and the lift for just an hour to achieve this GWR.”

Wai Ching hopes to clock 1.3km of vertical ascent during his one-hour climb, in order to claim the record from Robles Tapia.

David Robles Tapia set the one-hour world record in 2019

The 25-year old founding President of Malaysia Towerrunning Association

“I want to inspire sportsmen, sportswomen and youths in Malaysia to chase their dreams. “Dream Big, Believe It, Plan It, Execute It”. Even though we all are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, there won’t be any competitive races, we can still do something that we believe we can, and do it!

“I strongly believe that one must have a strong desire to pursue their dreams no matter under what circumstances. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort and with good planning, you will be able to achieve it for sure.”

Soh Wai Ching plans to make his Guinness World Record attempt on GWR Day, 18 November 2020.

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Suzy Walsham recently sat down for a chat with Ian Deeth and Johnny Tieu from the Unlocking Athletic Potential podcast and it’s an excellent discussion that’s well worth your time listening to.

In it Suzy discusses her athletics career from child star to Commonwealth Games, her transition to tower running in late 2006, her love of training, her Red Bull 400 experiences and plenty more.

Suzy’s given a few print and podcast interviews before, but the Unlocking Athletic Potential crew do a great job of digging a bit deeper into her career and training, so there are definitely things in this interview you won’t have heard before.

There’s no fluff in the chat and it helps that the knowledgeable interviewers are already well familiar with the sport of tower running and know their stuff when it comes to fitness and training. It makes for a really informed and interesting discussion.

You can listen to the whole conversation on the Unlocking Athletic Potential podcast.

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PAST building warsaw

The Polish tower running season gets back underway tomorrow (Saturday 22 August) with a highly-anticipated sprint clash at the PAST building in Warsaw involving some of the country’s best stair runners.

It’s the seventh edition of ‘The Conquest Run’, which is held as part of commemoration events to remember the heroes of the Polish resistance that took part in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.

At just nine floors, the race is one of the shortest tower runs in the world. The course record is a mere 34 seconds.

The event begins with a qualifying round, after which the top 10 fastest men and women compete in a final round to determine the winner.

Two-time winner (2017-18) and course record holder Adrian Bednarski will be racing. He’s never finished lower than second place in the four times he’s competed at PAST, so will be among the key men to watch on Saturday.

Adrian Bednarski towerrunning

Adrian Bednarski celebrates his win at the Reichenbacher Treppenlauf in 2019

Bednarski is a sprint specialist with multiple short-course wins under his belt. These include three wins at the 180-step Senftenberger See Turmlauf, plus victory in 2019 at the 190-step Reichenbacher Treppenlauf, both in Germany.

Expect to see Bednarksi back on the podium again.

Among those looking to defeat Bednarski will be one of the emerging stars of Polish tower running, Kacper Mrowiec, who will be making his debut at the race.

Mrowiec took an impressive second at the 351-step LOROS Tower Run in Leicester back in March, so it will be interesting to see if he’s been able to maintain tower running form and fitness during the lockdown despite limited access to stairs.

‘It’s the shortest tower run race I will have ever run’, said Mrowiec. ‘I feel my preparation is really good, but because of the short distance, just 9 floors, it’s not sure that the winner will be a tower runner.’

‘The winner could be a sprinter from track like Daniel Żochowski, who last time ran 15:03 for 5km and will take part in this competition. In a longer race – e.g 20 or 30 floors – probably I and Mateusz Marunowski should fight for the win, but the short distance makes the situation less obvious.’

‘Last time I competed with Matuesz on Oliva Star in Gdańsk when he won by just 0.15s on 34 floors! Before it, at Rondo 1, he beat me with an advantage of only 0.72s. I hope that tomorrow will be my first victory against him.’

‘After this race I will start preparing for autumn starts – stairs and track. I hope so that Bieg Zdobycia Past-y wont be my only tower run race – I have plans to race at Pyramidekogel [in Austria] and in Cologne.’

Another debutant hoping to be in among the podium finishers is Mateusz Marunowski.

The firefighter from Jaworzno should be a familiar name to tower running fans. He has achieved multiple wins and podium placings over the last few years, including back-to-back wins at the competitive SkyRun Munster in Germany (2017-2018), as well as taking second behind Piotr Lobodzinski at the Intercontinental Tower Run in Warsaw last September.

Mateusz-Marunowski

Mateusz Marunowski

Marunowski’s pedigree over slightly longer courses is well established, but how he will fare in a flat out sprint is yet to be seen.

Another name you can expect to see in the mix on Saturday is Daniel Koszykowski.

Seventh in the Polish championships last year and third behind Lobodzinski and Marunowski at the Intercontinental Tower Run, Koszykowski is an emerging talent.

The super-short race distance levels things out massively, so expect Koszykowski to launch a more formidable challenge than he might over a longer race.

He gave an interview back in March to Telewizja Echo24 (in Polish), which you can watch below. A written interview in English is available here.

2019 champion Rafal Hazan is not expected to be in attendance (although may be a late entry).

It’s an exciting line up and guranteed to be the most competitive race since tower running started back up again earlier this month.

You can follow the results of Bieg Zdobycia PAST-y as they come in via this link.

Bieg Zdobycia PAST-y winners (men)

2014  Hubert Kulik 34:83

2015 Rafał Krzeszewski 36:47

2016  Rafał Krzeszewski 38:00

2017 Adrian Bednarski 37:78

2018 Adrian Bednarski 34:65 (course record)

2019 Rafał  Hazan 36:24

As lockdown restrictions start to ease in some countries, we’re finally beginning to see tower running emerge out of its forced hiatus.

With the back end of 2020 packed full of scheduled international races, there’s still lots to (potentially) look forward to.

Here’s the news from all the post-lockdown races that have happened so far.

Europe
Wildbad345 Treppenlauf, Germany

With racing having ground to a halt globally, it was the Germans who got things moving again back in June with the Wildbad345 outdoor event in Rothenberg.

The top end of the typical route was out of bounds due to ongoing restrictions, so athletes took on 310 steps instead of the usual 345.

Some big names were in attendance, including reigning German tower running champion Christian Riedl, two-time ESBRU champion Rudy Reitberger and Towerrunning Germany’s Lars Migge.

Wildbad345 Treppenlauf2020 (2)

A runner sets off at the Wildbad345 Treppenlauf in June, 2020 (image: www.joergbehrendt.de/)

It was Riedl who took the spoils, completing the outdoor course in 1:20. He was followed by Jürgen Schmidt in 1:23, with Lars Migge taking third in 1:25.

Linda Schmid was the fastest woman in 2:13. Second was Karina Schmidt (2:17) and Gertrud Blumenschein (2:20) took third.

See the full Wildbad345 Treppenlauf 2020 race results.

Tallinn TV Tower Run, Estonia

At the start of August the Estonian capital Tallinn hosted the first indoor stair race to take place for months, with the 870-step TV Tower serving as venue.

Tallinn TV Tower stair climb 2020

Tallinn TV Tower

In the men’s race the podium was an all Estonian affair.

Rimo Timm came out victorious with a finishing time of 4:43.9. For the second year in a row, the 2018 champion Rauno Tiits was pushed into second as he finished in 4:46.5. Tiits’ teammate Lauri Ulm took third in 5:00, taking a massive nine seconds off his time from 2019.

The women’s division saw an even closer battle for top spot as international athletes competed against local talent.

The experienced Estonian tower runner Piret Põldsaar repeated the 5:55 that earned her third place at the event in 2019. That was fast enough to earn top spot this time around…just.

Finnish track athlete Linnea Harala pushed Põldsaar hard, reaching the top of the tower in 5:56.1.

Slovakia’s Kamila Chomanicova took third in 6:00.3.

Tallinn TV Tower Run 2020 results.

Asia
Hangzhou International Towerrunning Race, China

The popular Chinese tower running circuit got back up and running on August 8th at Raffles City Tower in Hangzhou.

Raffles City Tower

Le Qinghua (CHN) was the fastest woman up the 1,647 stairs, taking a comfortable victory in 11:11.

Zhang Mufang (CHN) was next over the line finishing a split-second ahead of Christy Kalksma (NZL), with both women clocking in at 11:46.

The top end of the men’s event was devoid of close battles, with the podium finishers well spread out.

The all-Chinese top three was Wang Guolong (8:51), Zang Yunhai (9:23) and Chen Jianfeng (9:39).

Hangzhou International Towerrunning Race 2020 men

So we are officially back up and running people.

The next scheduled race is set for 6th September in Levoca, Slovakia. It looks like some races in the USA may be going ahead next month, too.

Then on 30th September the rescheduled La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel will take place.

Lots to look forward to. It’s good to be back.

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David Allard ESBRU

Getting to race up the stairs of the Empire State Building just once is a dream for most tower runners. For many it’s a dream that continues to elude them as they fail year after year to secure a coveted place at the world’s longest-running stair race. But for one man it’s become a real-life recurring dream that’s been going for more than a quarter of a century.

When you look back through the long and eventful history of the Empire State Building Run-Up you’d be forgiven for skimming over the event in 1994.

Ran on a shortened course of 80 floors, the men’s race was won by debutant Darrin Eisman (USA), while fellow first-time runner Belinda Soszyn (AUS) took the first of her eventual three victories in New York.

With all the close battles, intense rivalries and record-setting runs that came before and after, 1994 was, in comparison, fairly unexciting.

But it was certainly far from unexciting for David Allard, the man who currently holds the record for the most ESBRU appearances. This was the year he made his debut at the famous Manhattan tower.

1994 WINNERS BEST

Darrin Eisman and Belinda Soszyn, winners of the 1994 ESBRU

From novice to veteran

David Allard had only a couple of stair races under his belt when he took part in the Empire State Building Run-Up for the first time in his mid-40s.

In fact he hadn’t run at all until a few years before.

‘I didn’t start running until my daughter had joined the high school cross country team,’ he said. ‘I had never run a step in my life until then.’

Despite his lack of experience, the tower running novice from Great Barrington, MA, clocked a respectable 14:51 on the shortened course in 1994.

A year later he was back to take on the full course of 86 floors/1,576 steps, where he set his personal best of 16:43.

EmpireStateBuildingAdmission

‘It was a simple race at first, with a mass start that begins in the lobby,’ Allard told the Berkshire Eagle back in 2013. ‘We all had to hit this tiny door and then begin our ascent. But a lot of people tried to go too hard, too fast and many ended up holding their chests, slumped to the side of the stairwell by the eighth floor. For me, I set a steady pace and held it.’

‘Years ago you could only pass on the left,’ Allard recalled to the Brattleboro Reformer last year, ‘so you have seven stairs to pass a guy before a landing. Someone hits the landing and just has to turn so it was impossible to pass.’

The elite waves still begin with a manic mass start, but runners in the general wave now set off five seconds apart. With less crowding and mania in the stairwell, it’s a bit easier for Allard to settle into his runs and focus on his technique.

With 26 ESBRU appearances to his name, David Allard perhaps knows the stairs and the race better than almost anyone. So first time tower runners could do worse than listen to some of his advice.

‘It’s a breathing race, not a leg race,’ says Allard. ‘It’s all about holding a steady breathing pattern and using the handrails to carry your momentum.’

‘You bring yourself right to the edge of a heart attack, and you just hold it. The Empire State Building [Run-Up] is not a legs race, it’s a lungs race. The trick with the race is to start at the pace you’re going to maintain.’

David Allard 2008 ESBRU

David Allard at the 2008 Empire State Building Run-Up

His top five tips?

‘(1) Don’t go out too fast; (2) Take the stairs two at a time; (3) Use the hand rails; (4) When someone wants to pass you in the stairway, get out of the way; and (5) Smile at the end.’

The payoff at the top will make all your hard work worthwhile, Allard promises.

‘It’s the most beautiful ending to a race because you have to run one last lap around the observation tower and you get to see all of New York ahead of you. It’s so exhilarating, there’s no other feeling like that.’

TV presenter Kelly Ripa took part in the race in 2013 and she got to meet David Allard before she set off on her run.

You can see their brief exchange at the Empire State Building in the video below (starts at 1:40).

Allard’s rivals for The Streak

‘The streak is a really strange thing because it has zero value,’ says Allard. ‘Yet to the person that holds the streak it has enormous value.’

Hot on his heels for the record for most appearances at the Empire State Building Run-Up is a well-known tower runner from New York, Stephen Marsalese.

Marsalese made his debut at the Empire State Building in 1996 and has competed in every race there since, bringing his current number of appearances to 24.

With 15 or so years age difference between the two men, it’s likely the younger Marsalese (if he continues to be invited to the the ESBRU) will eventually outlast Allard.

David Allard and Stephen Marsalese

David Allard and Stephen Marsalese

But the evergreen, four-time winner Cindy Harris (nee Moll), who currently has 22 appearances to her name and is still competing at the very top, could well pass both men out in the coming years.

But Allard has no plans to call time on his fantastic run at the ESBRU any time soon.

‘I hope to do this into my nineties—I’ll crawl up the stairs if I have to’, he told TimeOut.

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