Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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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VWC 2020

The first half of the 2020 tower running season has been completely halted by coronavirus restrictions and there hasn’t been a tower race anywhere since mid-March. Dozens of races, including big events such as the Empire State Building Run-Up and the TWA World Championship race at Taipei 101, have been postponed or cancelled outright. But what about the nine races that form the Vertical World Circuit?

Read on to find out about the postponements and new dates for the races in the Vertical World Circuit 2020.

Allianz Vertical Run – Allianz Tower, Milan, Italy

The race up the 1,027-step Allianz Tower was scheduled for 19 April, but even though the organisers waited until the end of March to officially announce its postponement, it was clear very early on in the ongoing coronavirus situation that this event wasn’t going to happen as planned.

Allianz Tower Run 2020

The organisers are hoping to reschedule within 2020 so it can still slot into this year’s Vertical World Circuit. There’s no fixed date yet.

You can keep up to date with announcements on the Allianz Vertical Run Facebook page.

VertiGo – Tour First, Paris, France

Initially scheduled as the second race in the VWC 2020 to take place on May 14, VertiGO was rescheduled early on.

However the organisers have now made the decision to cancel the event.

Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb – One World Trade Center, New York, USA
world-trade-center

One World Trade Center in New York City

The tallest tower on the VWC, One World Trade Center was set to host a race on 22 November.

However the organisers have now made the decision to cancel the event.

The Broadgate Tower Run Up – London, UK

The most competitive race on the UK tower running calendar, the Broadgate Tower Run Up was set to take place on 5 July.

The organisers then shifted the race to Sunday 27 September.

Unfortunately, due to the remaining uncertainty surrounding sporting events, they’ve now taken the decision to cancel the 2020 edition.

We look forward to its return in 2021.

The remaining races

The five remaining races in the VWC originally scheduled for the second half of 2020 are all still hoping to go ahead as planned:

  1. Race to Shanghai IFC, Two Shanghai International Finance Centre – Shanghai, China (18 October)
  2. Beijing Vertical Run, China World Summit Wing – Beijing, China CANCELLED
  3. Dubai Holding SkyRun, Jumeirah Emirates Tower – Dubai, UAE (6 November) CANCELLED
  4. Harukas Skyrun, Abeno Harukas – Osaka, Japan (15 November) CANCELLED
  5. Race to Hong Kong ICC, International Commerce Centre – Hong Kong (6 December)

The last four months of 2020 will be action packed if all these races go ahead as planned. The travel schedule for the world’s top tower runners hoping to take part will also be hectic. Here’s hoping all the top athletes can compete at their best.

EmpireStateBuildingAdmission

The 2020 edition of the Empire State Building Run-Up has finally been officially cancelled.

It comes as no surprise, of course, given the ongoing situation in New York, and globally. But race organisers NYC Runs waited until now before making an announcement about the event, which was due to take place on Tuesday 12 May.

It’s the first year since the ESBRU began in 1978 that a race up the tower won’t take place.

The 43rd edition of the event will now happen on Tuesday 11 May 2021, with all those given a place at this year’s event invited to participate next year.

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Lobodzinski La Vertical Tour Eiffel 2019

Piotr Lobodzinski recently caught up with Polish running website bieganie.pl to talk all things tower running, and it’s a fantastic read.

The candid interview covers a good range of topics that give excellent insight into the two-time tower running world champion.

Some of the highlights include:

  • His early adventures in sports and athletics and his move into tower running back in 2011
  • How the COVID-19 lockdown and shut down of scheduled tower runs in the first half of 2020 has killed his motivation to train
  • Running a 3:14 marathon with no specific training back in 2006
  • Why he doesn’t own a TV
  • His hopes of running a sub-30 minute 10km
  • Why he likes ‘technical routes’ and why the staircase in the Eiffel Tower suits him so well

Check out the full article through the link below:

Piotr Lobodzinski interview with bieganie.pl

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Burj Khalifa

This story was an April Fools’ Day joke – unfortunately there is no scheduled race at the Burj Khalifa.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, will host a stair race on Wednesday 2 December 2020 to celebrate National Day in the United Arab Emirates.

‘We are excited to announce this event in celebration of 49 years of independence’, announced Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, head of the UAE Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Social Development.

‘We want to deliver something that makes people feel really proud about what we are as a nation, our ability to do these things. And at a time when the world is a pretty difficult place for a lot of people, I think we also know we have a responsibility to try and help lift people’s spirits.’

‘We hope this announcement can give people something to remain optimistic about in the coming months and we look forward to welcoming some of the world’s best athletes to compete at the world’s best tower in December.’

The 828m tall structure in Dubai has long been the dream race venue for tower runners. It’s 2,909 stairs will lead climbers up to the 160th floor.

Full details on the event and registration are yet to be announced.

Soh Wai Ching Loros 2020

Last weekend saw the fifth edition of the LOROS Tower Run at St George’s Tower in Leicester.

In an exciting event, Soh Wai Ching set a new course record and Sarah Frost secured her third win in a row.


Soh Wai Ching smashes course record at LOROS Tower Run 2020


Every year the organisers have an excellent photographer on hand capturing all the action on the stairs and around the building.

The photos from this year’s race have just been uploaded and you can find them all through the link below:

LOROS Tower Run 2020 photos

Malaysia’s Soh Wai Ching broke the LOROS Tower Run course record by three seconds at Saturday’s event in Leicester.

Soh powered to the finish in 1:24.8 to eclipse the previous best time of 1:27.9 set by Elliot Slaughter (GBR) in 2018.

It was the second course record for Soh in the space of a week, following his new best time at the Sibu Tower Run in Malaysia the weekend before.

Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec finished second in 1:29.7, becoming only the third man to have run the 351-step course at St George’s Tower in less than 90 seconds.

Laurence Ball (GBR) was third in 1:31.4.

Soh Wai Ching and Kacper Mrowiec

Soh Wai Ching and Kacper Mrowiec

Frost makes it three in a row on return from injury

Sarah Frost was the fastest woman at the LOROS Tower Run, winning in a time of 1:52.8 to secure her third win in a row at the venue.

It was the first race of the season for Frost following an ankle injury that had her sidelined at the start of the year.

Frost had been due to race at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel on Wednesday 11 March, but with the postponement of that event she kicked off her season in Leicester.

Although Frost’s time on Saturday was the slowest of her three wins, it was still significantly faster than her rivals.

Kimberley Etherington-Bates was second in 2:28.3 and Sonja Shakespeare took third in 2:38.9.

Full LOROS Tower Run 2020 results

LOROS Tower Run race day photos

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LOROS Tower Run 2020

It’s the shortest stair race in the UK, but the LOROS Tower Run is also one of the most exciting. Back on Saturday 14 March 2020 for its fifth edition, all eyes will be on Leicester as top international speedsters get ready to race flat out against some of the UK’s best.

The athletes will face 351 steps at St George’s Tower, and the leading men will have one eye on the course record of 1:27.9 set by Elliot Slaughter in 2018.

Slaughter won’t be in attendance on Saturday and neither will three-time winner (2016-17, 2019) Mark Sims.

That leaves the door wide open for a new champion to be crowned and three men in particular are among those expected to be in close contention for the top spot.

Loros Tower Run1

St George’s Tower, Leicester – venue for the LOROS Tower Run

Kacper Mrowiec – Poland

Mrowiec blew onto the tower running scene a little over a year ago and has already proven himself as a prospect to watch.

Back in early February 2019, the Polish athlete kicked things off at the 593-step Altus Cup race in Katowice, Poland. His 3:11 finish was fast enough to earn him third spot. Mrowiec clearly has good speed on the stairs.

But he really established himself a few weeks later at the highly competitive Rondo 1 race in Warsaw. The 836-step race always attracts top European stair runners.

Kacper Mrowiec towerrunner

Mrowiec took sixth overall, finishing ahead of far more experienced tower runners, including Ralf Hascher, Andreas Fruhmann, Rauno Tiits and Pavel Holec.

He followed this up later in the year with a second-place finish at the 723-step ‘sprint race’ at the Star Challenge in Gdasnk, Poland. Less than a second separated him and the winner, Mateusz Marunowski.

People began to sit up and take notice of the young Pole.

Jump forward to 2020 and Mrowiec already has a win under his belt. He took top spot at the 29-floor Ideal-Hochhaus in Berlin in January.

He’s not long back from a winter training camp in Spain, and since his return to Poland he’s been training on the stairs alongside world number one tower runner Piotr Lobodzinski.

Mrowiec was due to race at Vertical Rush on Thursday (12 March), but with the cancellation of that race he can focus his attention, and completely fresh legs, on the 351 steps of St George’s Tower.

Expect him to put in a very fast time; somewhere close to if not better than the course record, for sure. Will it be enough to win him the race? That’s to be seen.

Henrik Holstad – Norway

The name Henrik Holstad may be unfamiliar to the casual reader, but the Norwegian is a legitimate tower runner who secured a bunch of wins and podium finishes last year.

In Norway he won the 600-step Kollentrappa in May and then in September he finished second at the 303-step Barcode Challenge and second at the KollenOpp.

Henrik Holstad towerrunning

Henrik Holstad (793) on his way to winning the Kollentrappa 2019


The following month he took top spot at the Run Up Berlin, which takes place at the city’s 770-step Park Inn Hotel and has been venue to some great battles over the years between Germany’s top tower runners.

Holstad has demonstrated his complete stair running versatility, giving a good account of himself at various distances and formats. Whether traditional races with landing turns or races straight up the stairs alongside ski jumps, Holstad has proven himself capable of handling it all. But how will he get on in Leicester?

Tower running math isn’t always the most accurate predictor of finishing places, especially at a sprint event like this where the margins between places will be super slim. But having punched the numbers, we’ll be surprised if Holstad takes top spot. A podium place is a reasonable expectation, but first might be out of reach, and the next man on our list is one of the reasons why.

Laurence Ball – Great Britain

Laurence Ball tower running

Like Mrowiec, Laurence Ball is a relative newcomer to tower running, having made his stair race debut a little over 12 months ago.

He won that race and went on to put in some more cracking performances throughout the rest of the year. He was second at the stacked Broadgate Tower Run Up in July and then smashed the course record at the Leadenhall Building in November.

In the summer he showed off his speed at the UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava, Slovakia. In the three-run format, he managed to finish sixth in among far more experienced tower runners.

Laurence Ball Mark Howard Grate48 2019

Laurence Ball (left) after setting the course record at the Leadenhall Building in November, 2019

The LOROS Tower Run will be Ball’s first stair race of the 2020 season, so it will be interesting to see exactly where he’s at.

He’s been putting in a lot of track work and recently competed at the Vertical Up Kitzbühel, which involves running up a ski slope in spiked shoes. We know he’ll be in great shape, but how will he handle the flat out sprint?

We’ll be surprised not to see Ball in the top three.

Update (12 March 2020, 9.30pm)

Since we wrote this article, the world number two Soh Wai Ching has announced that he will be heading to Leicester to take part in the race, having previously ruled himself out. The Malaysian had come to Europe to race at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel and to defend his Vertical Rush title in London. With both events cancelled he has now apparently decided to take on the LOROS Tower Run.

Soh becomes the firm pre-race favourite now. We firmly expect the course record to fall if he makes it onto the start line.

This race has now become an even more exciting prospect than it was this afternoon. Roll on Saturday.

Like us on Facebook to keep up to date with the full results and race report on the weekend.

Vertical Rush cancelled

Vertical Rush is the latest tower run to be cancelled amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The event will not be rescheduled for later in the year.

Shelter, the charity that puts on the event, has released the following statement:

Unfortunately we regret to inform you that as a result of safety precautions being put in place by Tower 42 to try and prevent the spread of coronavirus, we have had to cancel Vertical Rush on Thursday 12th March 2020.

The Tower have not taken the decision to cancel lightly, and it has been made with the health and safety of everyone involved in mind. The care of our runners, staff and volunteers is always our main priority. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience the cancellation causes.

We understand that this is disappointing news for you, and we share that disappointment, as we know how much effort you have put into your training and fundraising. Sadly, we will not be rescheduling this year’s event for another date.

The cancellation follows the postponement of the Taipei 101 Run Up (World Championship race) and the Eiffel Tower stair race.

It’s becoming increasingly likely that the 2020 tower running season will not materialise in any meaningful fashion.

The early Vertical World Circuit races scheduled for Milan (April) and Paris (May) are likely to be cancelled next. The Empire State Building Run-Up will probably be cancelled in the coming weeks, too.

Follow us on Facebook for all the latest tower running updates as and when they come in.

tower-42-shelter-vertigo-challenge-2016

Update: within an hour of publishing this article, the 2020 edition of Vertical Rush was cancelled. Read more on the cancellation here.

Malaysia’s Soh Wai Ching will be back in London on Thursday to defend the Vertical Rush title he won last year.

Soh won the 932-step race at Tower 42 in March, 2019, in a time of 4:17. In doing so he became the fourth fastest person to ever race the tower, with only Thomas Dold (3:58), Piotr Lobodzinski (3:59) and Fabio Ruga (4:11) having run faster in the 11 editions of the UK’s biggest stair race.

The world number two has made massive improvements in the past 12 months and established himself as a legitimate contender to world champion Piotr Lobodzinski with a win over the Pole in Dubai in February.

Soh Wai-Ching Vertical Rush 2019

Soh Wai Ching was the winner of Vertical Rush 2019

Coming off the back of a record-breaking run at the Sibu Tower Run, Soh had been scheduled to race at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris on Wednesday. But following the postponement of that race he will now race in London on completely fresh legs.

As such, he is expected to run even faster at Vertical Rush this year and could well eclipse the time of Italy’s Fabio Ruga. The 3:58 course record certainly isn’t out of reach, either, and it would be no big surprise to see the young Malaysian get very close to it.

Soh’s closest British competition on Thursday is likely to be newcomer Laurence Ball, the rising star of UK tower running. He will be expected to take a huge amount of time off the 4:49 he clocked on his Vertical Rush debut last year, which earned him fourth spot. It’s Ball’s first stair race of the year, so it will good to see what form he is in.

Laurence Ball tower running

Laurence Ball

Unfortunately, Mark Howard (3rd last year) will not be racing, so fans will have to wait for the next installment in the ongoing Ball vs Howard rivalry.

Another relative newcomer to the sport who’s also anticipated to be in the mix for the podium is Poland’s Kacper Mrowiec.

He already has a 2020 win under his belt, having taken victory at 29-floor Ideal-Hochhaus in Berlin back in January.

Mrowiec is not long back from a winter training camp in Spain, and since his return to Poland he’s been training on the stairs alongside world number one tower runner Piotr Lobodzinski.

Like Ball, Mrowiec is a little over a year into his tower running career and beating the more experienced Soh might be just out of reach right now. But expect a very close battle for the remaining spots on the podium.

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La Verticale postponed

Growing concerns surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) have forced the organisers of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel to postpone the race, which was scheduled for this coming Wednesday, March. 11.

The announcement follows a decree by the French Ministry of Health last night banning meetings of more than 1,000 people. Following this new policy, the team at the Eiffel Tower itself made the decision to postpone the event.

The race organisers, Ecotrail Paris, sent a message this morning to participants stating:

“Please be aware that after the information received this morning from the Eiffel Tower authorities, we regret to inform you that the 6th edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel will not be able to take place this Wednesday, March 11th.

Like you, we are saddened by this decision, but you should know that we are fully mobilised to find a postponement solution, which we hope to communicate to you as soon as possible.”

A new race date of Wednesday 30th September 2020 has now been announced.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel is the second major tower running event to be postponed so far this year following the announcement last week that the Taipei 101 Run Up, which was to host the 2020 Towerrunning World Championship, was off.

The postponement is a massive disappointment for the athletes who had traveled from Mexico, USA, Malaysia, Singapore and beyond to take part, some of whom will be touching down in Paris unaware of the announcement.

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

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

1903 and 1905

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

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

Marcy Schwam

First ESBRU

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

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

Nina Kuscsik

kuscsik 1980

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

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

2009 Nina Kuscsik

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

Cindy Harris

Cindy Harris tower running

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

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

1998 purcell and moll

Cindy Harris after winning her first ESBRU title in 1998

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

Andrea Mayr

2006 Mayr wins

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

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

Andrea Mayr 2015 Towerrunning World Championship

Andrea Mayr winning the 2015 Towerrunning World Championship

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

Suzy Walsham

Suzy Walsham la vertical de la tour eiffel

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

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

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

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

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

walsham VWC 2019

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