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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.

Soh Wai Ching Sibu Tower Run 2020

Malaysia’s Soh Wai Ching set a new record at the Sibu Tower Run (627 steps) today with a time of 2:56.

It was the third win in a row at the event for Soh, who took a second off the unofficial record he set during a practice run at Wisma Sanyan last month.

Michele Tan (above, right) took the narrowest of wins in the women’s race, finishing ahead of Cheong Yan Wei by less than half a second.

Wisma Sanyan

The 627-step Wisma Sanyan, venue for the Sibu Tower Run

There was no 5km pre-run this time around, which had been a key feature of the event since its inaugural edition in 2017. This allowed world number two Soh to go all out in the stair run.

His victory is the perfect end to his preparations for one of the biggest races of the year at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, next week.

“I am happy with my performance today and I am totally ready for La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel on Wednesday”, said Soh.

View this post on Instagram

3rd Consecutive Wins at @sibutower 2020 edition us different from the previous edition as there's no 5km pre run. We all ran up 28 Floors, 627 steps, with a 95m Elevation Climb and individual start format! I clocked a total time of 2:56 minutes. With a rest of about 40 minutes, I went up for my second run up, and clocked a 3:04 min (got blocked by some female runners throughout the run). With about 15 min rest time, I decided to went up for my third run up. It took me 3:07 min to complete the race (got blocked by some fire marshal throughout the run). . I am happy with my performance today and I am totally ready for @laverticaledelatoureiffel on the coming Wednesday where all of us have to do 2 run up + a final run (665 steps) . I would like to thanks @sibutower Mike and Willie from MPI Alumni Association and Sibu Municipal Council on inviting me to be the Ambassador again for 3rd year in a row! . It was a well organized race and it's livestream throughout the race with 4 cameras (one at the start, one at 10th floors, one at 20th floors, one at the finishing floors). Thanks to all the volunteers and to sponsors as well for the event. . I would like to personally thank all my sponsors especially @malaysiaairlines on flying me here to Sibu for the race. Thanks to all the other sponsors! #SibuTowerRun #STR2020 #SMC #MasTowerRunner #TenagaNasionalBerhad #GreenAcreCapital #MMTF #MasterSY #JayBirdVista #JayBird #BeetItSport #BeetItSportMy #RudyProject #RudyProjectMy #BauerfeindMalaysia #BlackrollMalaysia #MalaysiaTowerRunningAssociation

A post shared by Soh Wai Ching (@mastowerrunner) on

Soh’s team mate HZ Chin took second place in 3:11.

Sibu Tower Run 2020 results:

Women top five:

1. Michele Tan – 4:12.053
2. Cheong Yan Wei – 4:12.392
3. Mercy Teh Mu Min – 4:25
4. Lee Leh Ha – 4:39
5. Liezel Lumindas G – 4:45

Men top five:

1. Soh Wai Ching – 2:56
2. HZ Chin – 3:11
3. Mr Kent – 3:28
4. Alex Tiong King Hee – 3:41.062
5. Tan Song Hua – 3:41.793

More:

A guide to the elite men at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

f15f7b57ab31c217f471c6712a2654e0-taipei-101

The 2020 edition of the Taipei 101 Run Up has been cancelled due to fears around coronavirus.

Despite coronavirus cases in Taiwan being currently below 50, the organisers have taken the precautionary decision to postpone the event.

No new date has been set for the race which was due to take place on 9th May.

The Taipei 101 Run Up was set to play host to the 2020 TWA Towerrunning World Championship, which may now be in jeopardy.

“We definitely want to hold our Towerrunning World Championships in 2020”, said the Towerunning World Association. “The targeted date will be around 3rd/4th quarter of the year.”

Wisma Sanyan

Soh Wai Ching will race at the Sibu Tower Run tomorrow as he aims to win the event for a third straight time.

For the first time since the event began in 2017 there will be no 5km pre-run and runners will simply take on the 627 steps of Wisma Sanyan, giving Soh the perfect opportunity to go all out on the stairs.

Soh visited the tower last month to meet with race organisers and did a record-breaking practice run of 2:57 while there. He’ll be expecting to better that time tomorrow morning.

Soh Wai Ching Sibu Tower Run

Soh Wai Ching (r) receives his winner’s trophy at the Sibu Tower Run 2019

It’s a perfect final tune-up for the Malaysian before he heads to Paris to compete at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel on Wednesday, March. 11.

The 627 steps at Wisma Sanyan closely matches the step count for the new format for La Verticale, which involves two qualifying rounds of 665 steps and a final run for the top 20 fastest men.

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Matthieu Gandolfi was the top French finisher at last year’s La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

Next week he returns to the Iron Lady to see if he can do better than that ninth place he took on his debut.

A completely changed race format – two qualifying rounds of 665 steps, with a final run for the fastest 20 men – offers up a new challenge, but the man from Vosges is well prepared.

Gandolfi caught up with TV channel France 3 ahead of next week’s race.

 

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La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel is just a week away and the excitement is building for one of the biggest events in the tower running calendar.

Experienced tower runner Mickaël Pourcelot is one of the athletes set to compete in Paris and TV channel France 3 recently did a short profile on him ahead of the race.

Check it out below – rough English transcript underneath the video.

Transcript (rough translation):

Climbing the 288 steps of this tower…a nightmare for some…a passion for others. Mickael Pourcelot climbs these 18 floors in 67 seconds. He practices tower running: running up stairs.

Mickaël Pourcelot: “The idea is to go as quickly as possible. So we take the steps two by two. You have to use whatever’s possible to use, like the rails on the sides to project yourself forward and then support yourself, because the thighs burn quite quickly. There’s also a technique to work the turns, to grab the railings on the other side and use them to help you pivot and accelerate through all the turns.”

Mickaël discovered this sport by accident during the Telethon 2017. The test consisted of climbing the 1,000 steps of the Montparnasse Tower. A test in which he excelled, surprisingly. Since then he has competed around the world and collected trophies.

One of his favourite races: that of the Eiffel Tower. His goal in 2020 is to finish in the top 10 of this event.

More:

Carrera Vertical Torre Latino 2020

Colombia’s Frank Carreño won the Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in Mexico City for a fifth straight time on Sunday.

The course record holder held off a strong challenge from Mexico’s Alexis Trujillo to reach the top of the 720 steps in 3:22.

The venue, the oldest skyscraper in Mexico City, has become a stronghold for Carreño since he debuted there in 2016. He set the stunning course record of 3:17 at last year’s event.

Torre Latinoamericana

Torre Latino, Mexico City

There was a lot of anticipation heading into the race that Alexis Trujillo might finally be able to put an end to Carreño’s winning run at the tower. Trujillo was coming into the event off the back of a record breaking run at The Strat in Las Vegas, USA the previous weekend.

Trujillo’s impressive form so early in the season continued on Sunday, but even a personal best time of 3:25 wasn’t enough to unseat Carreño, and he was forced to settle for second place for the second year in a row.

The pair will meet again in Paris on 11th March when they compete at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2020.

Germany’s Görge Heimann took third spot in 3:40, continuing his excellent form from last season. He will also be competing at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.