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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.

Five French men have been selected to represent the host nation in the Elite division at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2020.

We take a look at who they are and assess their chances on Wednesday 11th March.

Laurent Vicente

Laurent Vicente coureur2

Vicente is one of the few men to have competed at every edition of La Verticale since it began in 2015, and he’s never finished outside of the top 17. Although he’s more familiar than most with the steps of the Eiffel Tower, Vicente is typically found on the trails and mountains. As such, it’s hard to estimate how he’ll fare over the shortened course of 665 steps on 11 March. With a sub 32-minute 10km PB, the Montpellier-man has evident speed. Will he be able to translate that across three rounds of 665 steps? It will be a surprise not to see him make the final, but don’t expect him to break into the top 10 this time.

@laurentvicente_officiel

Matthieu Gandolfi

Matthieu Gandolfi

Gandolfi, who’s also primarily a trail and mountain runner (with cycling and cross-country skiing thrown in the mix as well), was ninth on his debut at La Verticale last year, so knows his way around the Eiffel Tower. If the regular action posted on his Instagram account is anything to go by, then he’ll definitely be coming into the race in top shape. But Gandolfi isn’t a tower runner, and that has to be a factor. Expect to see him pushing for another top 10 finish, but given the far more experienced sprint stair climbers in the mix it will be a surprise if he does better than the ninth place he took last year.

@matthieugandolfi_athlete

Mickaël Pourcelot

Mickael Pourcelot

The top French tower runner on the circuit right now, the format change at La Verticale this year really suits Pourcelot. He debuted at the Eiffel Tower in 2018 (finishing 12th) and was back in 2019 (18th), so knows the course, but he’s better suited to shorter races. Pourcelot’s fantastic results last season included first at The Tower Run Montparnasse (1,000 steps) in Paris, third at the Broadgate Tower Run Up (836 steps) in London, fifth at VertiGo (954 steps) in Paris and third at KoelnTurm Treppenlauf (705 steps) in Cologne. The switch to 665 steps at La Verticale gives him his best opportunity to break into the top 10 for the first time. It will be no simple task, though.

@mickeypourcelot

Guillaume Tiphène

Guillaume Tiphene

A highly accomplished trail/mountain runner and marathoner (2:31 PB), Tiphène will be making his La Verticale debut this year. A regular on the podium on the trail running circuit in France, he is a serious prospect. Can the Toulouse-based athlete quickly make the adjustment to the stairs? We think so. He should make the final, and we expect him to be pushing towards the top 15, at least. He’s one of the dark horses in the whole Elite division and we’re excited to see how he gets on.

@guillaume_tiph

Joris Jacquard

Joris Jacquard (2)

Jacquard has plenty of stair running experience. He was third at the Tower Run Montparnasse in September, 2019, and won the Ultra division at the Star Challenge in Gdansk, Poland in December. He has already been racing internationally this year, competing at the Aon Center in Chicago where he finished seventh. He’ll be making his debut at La Verticale in March and will be expecting to finish inside the top 20 in order to make the final.

@joris_athlete_45

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Suzy Walsham la vertical de la tour eiffel

La Verticale de La Tour Eiffel 2020 is just under four weeks away and the excitement is building for the biggest race in the European tower running calendar.

The sixth edition of the event, which takes place on the evening of Wednesday 11th March, has a strong line up of some of the best tower runners in the world. In the women’s division, five-time winner Suzy Walsham is back to defend her title. Alongside her in Paris will be 14 others looking to achieve the seemingly impossible and unseat the Australian.

Read on to find out who’s who in the elite women’s division at the 2020 edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

The Eiffel Tower stair race has come a long way from its early beginnings in 1905 and 1906.

MMe Baube

Mme. Baube, winner of the Eiffel Tower stair run in 1906

The latest version of the race began in 2015 and year-on-year it’s packed full of athletic talent from around the world. Just 15 women have been selected to compete in the Elite division at the 2020 edition.

As the only previous winner, Suzy Walsham is always the pre-race favourite in Paris. But this year, due to scheduled renovations on the tower, the format of the event has changed dramatically. Will the new format open the door for a different woman to finally take the crown of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel champion?

The 2020 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel race format

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

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

The final will be held in a pursuit format with the fastest athlete from the qualifying rounds setting off first. That pursuit format means positions on the grid will be all important, so expect to see the runners going all out in both qualifying rounds to secure the best spot.

For more details on the new format for 2020, including rest times between rounds, check out our full news story.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel winners and course record

2019 – Suzy Walsham (10:16)

2018 – Suzy Walsham (10:02)

2017 – Suzy Walsham (9:34 – course record)

2016 – Suzy Walsham (9:48)

2015 – Suzy Walsham (9:44)

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

The step count of the altered format makes it difficult to predict who exactly will be among the top finishers come March. There aren’t many 650 to 700-step towers in the world where the top stair climbers have gone head-to-head.

But here’s our rundown of the 15 women selected to race in the Elite division of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2020.

Suzy Walsham – Australia

walsham VWC 2019

The 2018 world champion and current world number one has won every edition of this event since it began in 2015 and it’s difficult to not see her winning this one. But Walsham herself has said numerous times that she’s not a sprinter, so the new format presents a unique challenge for her.

She doesn’t race enough short course events for us to know exactly how she’ll fare. Last year she only did two races that were less than 1,000 steps. The first was Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali in Benidorm, which she won. The other was the 441-step Pyramidenkogel-Turmlauf in Austria. Walsham took second there behind Austrian multi-athlete Veronika Windisch, missing out on top spot by just three tenths of a second.

So despite what she says, Walsham undoubtedly has speed, which you’d expect from a former Australian national champion at 800m and 1,500m who represented her country at the Commonwealth Games.

She got her 2020 season underway at the start of February with a win in Dubai over close rival Valentina Belotti, so she should be heading to Paris full of confidence.

Only two or three women in the elite division would be able to hang with the Australian star over the long course, but naturally a few more can get closer over just 665 steps, so she will absolutely have to be at her best to secure victory. The 2020 edition of La Verticale is unlikely to be the one-sided Suzy Walsham Show that its been since 2015.

She will definitely be on the podium, and we expect her to win, but it won’t be nearly as clear cut as all her previous victories at the Eiffel Tower.

@suzywalsham

Valentina Belotti – Italy

Valentina Belotti 2019

We wrote briefly about the renaissance of Valentina Belotti last year after she set two course records in seven days at the end of August, including a solid win over Suzy Walsham at Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

She also won the Towerrunning Tour Final at the 3,398-step Shanghai Tower in November, once again finishing ahead of Walsham. The 2009 world mountain running champion is well and truly back.

She’s making her La Verticale debut this year so will have to deal with working out the nuances of the staircase for her first run at least.

It’s hard to know how Belotti will do in the sprint event. Expect to see her on the podium, but in what position is anyone’s guess.

Laura Manninen – Finland

Laura Manninen tower running

The Finn, who represented her country at the 2016 European Athletics Championships in the half-marathon, was second behind Walsham in the final rankings of last year’s Vertical World Circuit (VWC). She is one of the emerging forces on the tower running scene.

With a 16:44 PB for 5km and a bunch of sub 34-minute 10km runs to her name, it’s clear Manninen has speed. But with the stages of the VWC held mostly at massive towers, we haven’t had many chances to see how that road running pace translates onto the stairs.

Looking at two of the shortest towers she raced in last year gives us some idea. She was fifth at the 1,037-step Allianz Tower in April, where she finished over a minute behind La Verticale rivals Suzy Walsham and Iwona Wicha. She then finished fourth at Broadgate Tower in July, reaching the top behind Sarah Frost and Anais Leroy who she will also be up against in Paris.

Manninen’s chance of finishing on the podium may well have disappeared with the unanticipated format change. We think there are faster women in the lineup that will leave her in around fourth or fifth place after the final round is run.

Iwona Wicha – Poland

Iwona Wicha tower running

The Polish star made her debut at La Verticale last year and finished in fourth place.

She built on that throughout the rest of the 2019 season with home wins at the 790-step Palace of Culture and Science and the Intercontinental Tower Run (959 steps), both in Warsaw. She also took second at the Sky Tower Run in Wroclaw and fourth at the stacked Allianz Vertical Run in Milan.

Perhaps her best performance came at Rondo 1 in Warsaw in February. There she finished second, ahead of top competitors, and La Verticale rivals, including Valentina Belotti, Ilona Gradus, Sarah Frost and Cristina Bonacina.

She capped the season with 10th at the highly competitive Towerrunning Tour Final at Shanghai Tower (3,398-step Shanghai Tower), where she finished ahead of several of the women she’ll be competing against in Paris.

Of course results in buildings as tall as Shanghai Tower have little bearing on what will happen in a sprint race, but all of Wicha’s 2019 results combine to show an in-form athlete with impressive speed and endurance. It’s no surprise, given that Wicha trains with tower running world champion and five-time La Verticale winner Piotr Lobodzinski, who happens to be her husband.

She’s already got her 2020 season off to winning ways with victory at the 5km City Trail in Warsaw at the start of February. She’ll be heading to Paris full of confidence.

Expect to see her pushing for the podium.

@zyciezpasja

Dominika Stelmach – Poland

Dominika Stelmach La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

Dominika Stelmach won’t be known by many tower running followers, but she will be one of the best athletes in Paris come March.

The Polish ultra runner was silver medalist at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in 2018.

She has also been a force at the Red Bull Wings for Life for the past five years, which involves trying to outrun a Catcher Car for as long as you can. Dozens of these races start at the same time all around the world, and the top athletes compete to see who can outlast their global rivals.

Stelmach has won a Wings for Life event every year since 2015, taking victories in Europe, Australia, Africa and South America. In 2017 she was the overall global winner, running almost 6km further than her nearest rival.

She doesn’t have much experience on the stairs, but when she made her debut at La Verticale in 2017 she finished in second place ahead of far more experienced tower runners.

With a 16:46 PB for 5km we know she also has good speed. She is the real dark horse of this event.

Absolutely no idea how she will get on. Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her in the top five, but she could well get dropped in the heats as well. Pacing a sprint on the stairs properly takes experience and, super athlete or not, Stelmach doesn’t have that. Very excited to see how she gets on.

@dominika_stelmach_runner

Sarah Frost – Great Britain

Sarah Frost towerrunning

After her La Verticale debut in March last year (she finished 7th), UK number one Frost went on to have her best ever season.

Her standout performance of 2019 was at London’s Broadgate Tower (877 steps) where she smashed the course record to set a new best time of 4:40.

She also raced at multiple international events, and only narrowly missed out on third place overall in the Vertical World Circuit. Other highlights included third at the Pyramidenkogel-Turmlauf, second at VertiGO in Paris and third at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali.

Unfortunately, Frost started the year injured and on crutches and has only just begun slowly getting back into training. Will she be back in fully competitive condition by 11 March? We really hope so. Fingers crossed!

If she is, expect to see her pushing for the top six. If not, she won’t make the final.

@sarahchaneyfrost

Anais Leroy – France

Anais Leroy La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

Still a relative newcomer to the sport of tower running – although a long-time quality runner on the track (3,000m SC) and in cross country – Leroy continues to make an impact when she crosses over onto the stairs. She was fifth on her La Verticale debut in 2018, then missed the 2019 edition despite being selected.

But she was back in action a couple of months later when she took first at the 954-step VertiGO at Tour First in Paris. She then ran sub five-minutes to take third at Broadgate Tower in July in a stacked field of international runners.

Her track speed will serve her well over the 665 steps and we expect to see her pushing for a top-eight finish.

@anais__leroy

Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel – Mexico

Maria Lopez Pimentel

One of the stars of the fast-emerging Mexican tower running scene, Lopez Pimentel has raced at the Eiffel Tower twice and finished in sixth place on both occasions.

She had a very successful 2019 season, including multiple wins and top five finishes. She was winner of the sprint, and second in the vertical mile, at the competitive Dallas Vert Mile event in January, and then second at Scale the Strat in Las Vegas in February.

She won the Mexican Towerrunning Championships in July at Pabellon M Monterrey and followed this up a week later with a win at the 654-step Carrera Vertical UVM Campus Chapultepec.

Her season ended on a high in December with victory at the Carrera Towerrunning WTC (868 steps), which was fully stacked with Mexico’s top tower runners.

If she can carry that form over the short courses into 2020 then she has a solid chance of making the final. If she manages that, then we expect to see her finishing in around sixth, seventh, or eighth place.

@melisapml

Ilona Gradus – Poland

Ilona Gradus

The third Polish athlete in the Elite division, Ilona Gradus is making her La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel debut.

She had an excellent 2019 season and her results were enough to see her finish in sixth place in the Towerrunning World Association rankings.

Among the highlights were a couple of sprint wins at European venues. First she was fastest at the 524-step Atomium Stair Race in Brussels, Belgium back in June. Then she took victory at Bieg Po Schodach Collegium Altum (392 steps) in Poznan, Poland in October.

Other impressive performances included finishing third at the Altus Cup in Poland, second at the UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava (which involves three runs of 430 steps), sixth at Rondo 1 in Poland, and sixth at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali in Benidorm.

She finished the year with a solid win at the Yayasan TM Tower Run (1,296 steps) in Malaysia in November and was then 12th at the Towerrunning Tour Final, finishing ahead of some of her La Verticale rivals.

Will be surprised not to see her in the final, but the top end of the table might be out of reach.

Cristina Bonacina – Italy

Cristina-Bonacina-

Winner of the Towerrunning World Cup in 2011, Bonacina is a highly experienced tower runner with a full spread of wins and podium finishes at venues around the world. She’s well familiar with the Eiffel Tower, too, having raced at the venue four times (2015-17, 2019).

Bonacina had a busy 2019 season, with her results bringing her up to fourth place in the Towerrunning World Association rankings.

Given the strong field of competitors, the Italian will have her work cut out to be in the 10 that proceed to the final. It’s within her capabilities, but she will have to be in top form.

@cristina_bonacina

Amandine Bertrand – France

Amandine Bertrand La verticale de la tour eiffel

Another top French athlete who will be flying the flag for the home nation on March 11th. Bertrand debuted at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in 2018 and took seventh. Last year she finished eighth.

She had a decent 2019 season, finishing 7th at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali, fourth at VertiGO in Paris, and ninth at the Dubai Holding SkyRun.

There are a number of faster women in the line up and Bertrand will be up against it to make the cut off for the final 10. But a return to 2018 form and she will be able to pull it off.

@amandine.20.bertrand

Maria Beltran Toledo – Spain

Maria Beltran Toledo

Another crossover athlete, Beltran Toledo is an excellent trail and mountain runner who is making her debut at the Eiffel Tower.

Although not a regular on the tower running circuit, the Spaniard still has a lot of race experience on the stairs and has proven herself capable of hanging with the top stair climbers a number of times.

She was second at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018. She was also second at the Broadgate Tower Run Up in 2018. Last year she was 11th at the Towerrunning Tour Final.

Her times at Broadgate Tower and Grand Hotel Bali suggest the sprint format in Paris could really suit her.

We think she has a good chance of making the final.

@mariabeltrantoledo

Rosalyn Russell – Philippines

Rosalyn Russell towerrunning

A successful marathoner and trail runner with loads of tower running experience, Russell should be expecting to make the final in Paris.

She was sixth in the final Vertical World Circuit rankings last year.  A seventh placed finish at Allianz Tower in Milan, fifth at One World Trade Center in New York and sixth at the Beijing Vertical Run were among her best results in very competitive races.

But she also took wins at the Fight for Air Climb Miami (648 steps) in March and the Manila Vertical Run (1,353 steps) in September.

Russell ended the year with an impressive ninth at the Towerrunning Tour Final.

If she can carry that form into 2020, she has a chance of making it to the final.

@roserussell101

Laury Eloy – France

Laury Eloy

Another long-distance trail runner crossing over to the stairs, Eloy made her debut at the Eiffel Tower last year. She finished 10th, just behind Cristina Bonacina and Amandine Bertrand.

A lack of experience on the stairs can cause real issues when trying to effectively pace a sprint climb and this might catch Eloy out come March.

We don’t think we’ll see her in the final.

@laury_eloy

Meg Santanna – USA

Unless you’re a US tower runner, or a keen follower of the sport, you might not be familiar with the name Meg Santanna. The American doesn’t tend to race internationally (it’s her La Verticale debut this year), but she is well capable of holding her own against the bulk of the women on this list.

Santanna was third at SkyRise Chicago (2,123 steps) back in November last year, finishing ahead of La Verticale rivals Rosalyn Russell and Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel. She was also third at the USA Stairclimbing Championships 2019 at Scale the Strat, Las Vegas and sixth at the Empire State Building Run-Up.

The Charlotte, NC-based athlete also took first place at the Tunnel to Towers event at the 1,207-step Duke Energy Center in her home city, and was second at the Fight For Air Climb Charlotte (883 steps).

She’s been competing at the top in the States for a few years now. She was second at the USA Stairclimbing Championships in 2017 and third in 2018. She was also third at the Empire State Building Run-Up in 2017.

If the race at the Eiffel Tower was full distance, we’d bank on Santanna finishing well inside the top 10. But the sprint format for this year throws up so many unknowns. It’s hard to predict with any confidence how she’ll fare on her debut.

@meginthequeencity

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Eiffel tower at night

La Verticale de La Tour Eiffel 2020 is set for March and all eyes will be on Paris for the biggest race in the European tower running calendar.

The sixth edition of the event, which takes place on the evening of Wednesday 11th March, has a strong line up of some of the best tower runners in the world. In the men’s division, world champion Piotr Lobodzinski is back to defend his title. Alongside the Polish superstar in Paris will be 24 others looking to do the impossible and unseat the five-time winner.

Read on to find out who’s who in the elite men’s division at the 2020 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

The Eiffel Tower stair race has come a long way from the earliest editions in 1905 and 1906.

forestier the favourite 1905

Eugene Forestier – winner of the 1905 Eiffel Tower stair race

The latest version of the race began in 2015 and year-on-year it’s packed full of athletic talent from around the world. Just 25 men have been selected to compete in the elite category at the 2020 edition.

As the only winner, Piotr Lobodzinski is always the pre-race favourite in Paris. But this year, due to scheduled renovations on the tower, the format of the event has changed dramatically. Does the new set up increase the chances of the Pole missing out on top spot for the first time ever?

The 2020 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel race format

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

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

The final will be held in a pursuit format with the fastest athlete from the qualifying rounds setting off first. That pursuit format means positions on the grid will be all important, so expect to see the runners going all out in both qualifying rounds to secure the best spot.

For more details on the new format for 2020, including rest times between rounds, check out our full news story.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel winners and course record

2019 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:53.97)

2018 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:56.67)

2017 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:54.76)

2016 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:48.77 – course record)

2015 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:50.93)

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

The step count of the altered format makes it quite hard to predict who will be among the top finishers come March. There aren’t many 650 to 700-step towers in the world where the top stair climbers have gone head-to-head.

But here’s our pick of 12 of the top racers to watch out for at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

Piotr Lobodzinski – Poland

Lobodzinski La Vertical Tour Eiffel 2019

The only man to have won La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel since it began back in 2015, Lobodzinski will be going for an incredible sixth win. He has run the Eiffel Tower course in under eight minutes every single time. To put that into perspective, only one other person has managed to do that even once – Christian Riedl in 2016. It’s a remarkable record, and proof that Lobodzinski completely rules this tower.

The Polish athlete won the Vertical World Circuit and Towerrunning Tour in 2019 and finished no lower than second in any race at all last year, winning the overwhelming majority of them. He ran the third fastest time ever at Taipei 101 at the start of May. 10 days later he became the second fastest person to ever run the Empire State Building when he won in 10:05.

He doesn’t tend to race in short buildings anymore, opting for super-tall international towers over smaller European venues. The shortest course he ran in 2019 was the 836-step Rondo 1 in Warsaw back in February, where he finished 14 seconds ahead of second-placed Görge Heimann.

But even though he hasn’t found chance to turn on the turbo boosters over short courses recently, we still know he is super fast.

Will Lobodzinski win a sixth-straight La Verticale title? The new format makes it so difficult to say, but bet against him at your peril.

@towerrunner

Mark Bourne – Australia

Mark Bourne Stairclimbing Australia

The only man to beat Lobodzinski in 2019, the Australian star managed it three times in a row at the end of last season.

Racing primarily at home and across Asia, Bourne rarely competes in the smaller towers some of his European rivals are familiar with, so it’s hard to know how he’ll fare in this short-course event.

He’ll make the final, of course, but does he have that raw pace to finish on top in the qualifiers and dominate the last run from the front?

We’re not sure he does. He’ll likely be in the mix for the top five, but the podium will prove elusive.

@markbournerun

Christian Riedl – Germany

Riedl finish

Despite winning the 2019 German Towerrunning Cup, Christian Riedl had a relatively quiet season last year. One of the best tower runners in the world throughout the 2010s, Riedl has been Lobodzinski’s closest rival for many years.

He was second to Lobodzinski at La Verticale in 2016-2018 and third in 2019. He also trailed the Pole when he won the world tower running championship in 2018.

We know Riedl is fast, as he’s proven by winning multiple short course events at European venues over the years. In 2019 he took wins at Hardy’s Hotelturmlauf (510 steps) and the ADAC Charity Treppenlauf (472 steps), as well as podium places at other short-course events.

It’s hard to imagine the German will be anywhere other than in the mix for the top three spots come race night if he’s at or near his best.

@christian.riedl.77

Jakob Mayer – Austria

Jakob Mayer la verticale de la tour eiffel 2020

After finishing second at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel last year (he was third in 2018), Jakob Mayer spent the rest of the 2019 season dominating the Red Bull 400 circuit in Europe. Two wins and two second-place finishes in the Red Bull 4TITUDE Challenge saw the Austrian crowned series champion at the finale in September.

The day before that finale, he set a new course record of 2:04.38 at the 441-step (plus uphill pre-run) Pyramidenkogel Turmlauf in Austria. He also won the Muensterturmlauf in Germany (560 stairs) in June.

Mayer has already got 2020 off to winning ways, with victories in the Lustenauer Cross Country Series.

Fast, super-strong and with a great engine, Mayer is once again going to be in contention for the top spot come March.

@jakob.mayer.athlete

Soh Wai Ching – Malaysia

Soh Wai Ching La Verticale 2020

The world number two had a fantastic 2019 season, picking up wins and podium spots around the world.

Ninth on his La Verticale debut in 2018, the Malaysian stepped it up last March and finished fourth, so he’s well aware of what to expect on the stairs of The Iron Lady.

We know he’s quick. Last year he became the fourth fastest person to ever run the 932 steps of Tower 42 in London when he won in 4:17. Among the three men faster than him at that London venue are fellow La Verticale 2020 rivals, Piotr Lobodzinski (3:59) and Fabio Ruga (4:11).

Expect Wai Ching to breeze to the final, and it will be a surprise not to see him somewhere back in the top five again.

@mastowerrunner

Fabio Ruga – Italy

Fabio Ruga mountain running Italia

The course record of 4:07 that Ruga set at The Gherkin in London back in 2010 still stands. We found out he was fast then, and a decade on he’s barely lost a step.

No stranger to success in the French capital, the Italian mountain runner won the VertiGO race at the 954-step Tour First last year by a clear margin, proving he still has speed.

He’s never finished outside of the top-10 at La Verticale, with the 6th place he took last year being his best result, and we don’t expect 2020 to be any different.

He will comfortably make the final, but we don’t expect to see him pushing for the top five.

@fabioruga

Tomas Celko – Slovakia

Tomas Celko 2020

The Slovakian is a well-known speedster on the tower running scene. In August 2019 he won the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava, holding off the next two entrants on our list, Alexis Trujillo and Michal Kovac.

It was a rare appearance from Celko, who had a fairly quiet tower running season. He was active on the Red Bull 400/ski jump running scene, winning in Zakopane for the second year in a row (a sixth title in total at the venue in Poland) and at the Vertikální Horečky in the Czech Republic.

After recovering from surgery at the end of last year, Celko has begun his recovery and returned to training. Will he be able to get back to full fitness and make it to Paris? If he can, expect him to be up among the fastest finishers heading into the final.

@tomascelko

Görge Heimann – Germany

Görge Heimann towerrunning

The oldest competitor on the list, at 51 years old, the ever-impressive Heimann continues to pull brilliant performances out of the hat on a regular basis.

He had a number of standout races in 2019, particularly in buildings with less than 1,000 steps. Among the highlights was a win at the 936-step Subida Vertical Gran Hotel Bali in Benidorm where he finished ahead of La Verticale rivals, Soh Wai Ching and Michal Kováč. He also took second at the highly competitive Rondo 1 race in Poland, finishing behind Piotr Lobodzinski. He was fastest at the Tallinn TV Tower (870 steps) in April and then finished ahead of Christian Riedl at the 705-step KoelnTurm Treppenlauf in Cologne in August.

Heimann’s best finish at La Verticale is 7th (2018) and you can expect him to do as well as that, if not better, on the evening of 11 March.

@goergeheimann

Michal Kováč – Slovakia

Michal Kovac towerrunner

Kováč was on the podium a bunch of times in 2019, proving himself a real force on the European tower running scene.

He was third at Rondo 1 in Warsaw in February and then second at London’s Vertical Rush in March. In August he took third at the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava and in October he was third at the 365-step sprint Beh Do Neba Zilina in Slovakia. He’s proven multiple times he has the speed to match his endurance.

He also made his La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel debut last year and finished in an impressive 7th.

Anticipate another top-10 finish this time around too.

@kovomiso

Alexis Trujillo – Mexico

Alexis Trujillo La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

2019 was a big year for Trujillo as he finished as the world number three. Winning numerous races and finishing on the podium across multiple continents, he established himself as an international tower running star.

Among the most relevant results when assessing his chances at La Verticale is his second place at the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava in August. The Mexican had already shown he had the legs for the long races, but made it clear he is also lightning fast.

Back in Mexico he was second at the 636-step Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in March, then won the Carrera Vertical Uvm Campus Chapultepec (654 steps) in July and Carrera Towerrunning Tlaxcala (900 steps) in August.

Trujillo will expect to be in the fight for the top five, but the podium might be out of reach this time around.

@alexistrujillo_atl

Frank Carreno – Colombia

Frank Carreno towerrunning

Carreno has finished in 5th place at each La Verticale he’s contested (2017-2019). The Colombian is another known speedster on the tower running circuit and with the new short format favouring him, he’ll be looking to do even better than 5th place this year.

He has form over this sort of step count too. Last March he won the 636-step Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in 3:17, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Alexis Trujillo. Then, in September, he won the 500-step Carrera Vertical Hotsson Smart Acapulco.

If he gets to Paris in good shape, he should be right up there competing for the top places in the final.

@frankcarreno.towerrunning

Matjaž Mikloša – Slovenia

Matjaz Miklosa

Miklosa blew onto the UK tower running radar in 2015 when he set the fantastic 2:07 course record at the 530-step Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

Last December he won the Zagrepcanka 512 in Zagreb, Croatia. That race involves two runs up 490 steps with a 10-minute rest between rounds. The format change at La Verticale suits him down to the ground.

Miklosa also took third place in the final standings of the Red Bull 4TITUDE Challenge 2019.

He’s never broken into the top 10 at La Verticale, but this could well be the year he manages it.

More:

Leadenhall Building Grate48

The 2020 UK stair racing season gets under way in February, and spaces at some of the key events are already beginning to fill up.

Unfortunately, there won’t be loads of opportunities to race up stairs in the UK in 2020, and with the bulk of the announced events crammed into a two-week period you’ll probably have to be a bit selective with which events you choose.

Here are three of the best UK tower running events we think you should consider signing up for in the coming months.

1. Barnardo’s Urban Summit

Barnardos

What is it?

Held at the 1,250-step Leadenhall Building, this is the tallest stair run in the UK. There are options to do one climb, six climbs or 10 climbs. Entry fees start from £20 for a single climb and £30 for the multi options, with participants asked to commit to raise £250 sponsorship for Barnardo’s.

Why should I do it?

Firstly, it’s an excellent cause and charity that deserves support. Whether its placing children with foster families or adoptive parents, fighting tirelessly to combat child abuse or advocating at the highest levels for better child services, Barnardo’s are one of the leading charities in the UK working on behalf of vulnerable children. Donations will go to support all their far reaching projects around the country.

Secondly, The Leadenhall Building is a fantastic venue and, as things stand, you won’t get inside a taller tower in the UK for a stair race anytime soon. The Urban Summit in December, 2018 was a successful first event and the 2020 edition is sure to be bigger and better.

When is it?

Saturday 29th February 2019 at The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall St, London EC3V 4AB

How do I sign up?

Barnardo’s Urban Summit registration

2. LOROS Tower Run

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What is it?

A sprint event up the 351-step St George’s Tower in central Leicester.

Why should I do it?

It’s cheap. Just £17 entry with no fundraising commitment, or free entry if you fundraise £50 or more for LOROS. With most UK races requiring you to raise sponsorship in excess of £100 on top of your entry fee, this friendly and very well-organised event is an absolute bargain.

The 351-step building is one of the the shortest courses in the UK, so is a great introductory climb for those who want to try out stair climbing but are maybe a bit daunted by the challenge of one of the bigger towers.

For more experienced climbers, it’s a rare opportunity to go all out in a sprint and throw off the shackles of pacing that is sometimes so hard to get right during climbs in taller buildings.

It’s seen some really close battles in the last couple of years, with course records falling, and 2020 promises to be just as competitive.

It could also be a nice little follow-up race for anyone that’s signed up for Shelter’s Vertical Rush in London on Thursday 12th March.

When is it?

Saturday 14th March 2020 at St George’s Tower, 1A St Georges Way, Leicester, LE1 1SH.

How do I sign up?

LOROS Tower Run registration

3. The Broadgate Tower Run Up

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What is it?

A challenging stair climb up the 877-step Broadgate Tower in the City of London.

Why should I do it?

It’s hard to get into one of the big London towers for a race without committing to fundraising a sizeable minimum amount of money for a charity. But this event is focused on tower running as a sporting challenge, meaning you can just pay to race without having to raise any money.

As part of the Vertical World Circuit, the race attracts a deep field of experienced stair runners. So, if you’re up for a challenge, you’ll have the chance to pit yourself against some of the best in the world.

But there’ll be plenty of newcomers at this welcoming event, too, making it an excellent choice if you’re keen to try a stair climb for the first time.

In addition to the traditional single-climb event, there will also be the option of doing a 1/4, 1/2 or Full Vertical Mile, which involve multiple climbs up the building’s 877 steps.

Broadgate Tower is one of the big London towers and is a great venue to climb.

When is it?

Sunday 5th July 2020 at Broadgate Tower, 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AB.

How do I sign up?

The Broadgate Tower Run Up registration

For a full list of upcoming stair races in the UK check out our regularly updated 2020 race calendar.

You might also be interested in finding out how to sign up for the Empire State Building Run-Up 2020.

The Empire State Building Run-Up is the longest continuously running stair climb event in the world, and in 2021 it returns for its 43rd edition.

High on the wish list for probably every stair climber out there, the ESBRU is frustratingly difficult to get into, with some climbers applying year-on-year and failing to get a spot.

Read on to find out what we know so far about the 2021 edition.

When is the Empire State Building Run-Up (ESBRU) 2021?

The 43rd edition of the Empire State Building Run-Up is set to take place on Tuesday 11th May 2021.

Like the similarly iconic Eiffel Tower Stair Climb, the event is run at night, with competitors setting off from 8pm, to as late as 10pm in previous editions.

EmpireStateBuildingAdmission
How to enter the Empire State Building Run-Up (ESBRU)?

Entry to the ESBRU is through an open lottery system. Entry fee, which is taken if you are selected in the lottery, is $125.

There are also charity slots available each year, but the minimum fundraising requirement for these is pretty steep ($2,000+), so you might have to get friends and family to dig deep if you go down that route.

With the 2020 edition having been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, those who had a place at that event have had their entry deferred to 2021.

This means it is unlikely there will be any open spots at the 2021 event. If you don’t already have a place, you will probably have to wait until 2022.

But keep an eye out for announcements from NYC Runs in the lead up to the event, as there is a possibility (albeit a slim one) that cancelled places may be opened up again to the public in another lottery.

What is the Empire State Building Run-Up?

The Empire State Building is the historical home of tower running in the USA. The event was created by Fred Lebow in 1978, who also organised the first New York City marathon back in 1970. Learn all about the background to the event by reading the first installment in our series on the history of the Empire State Building Run-Up.

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The race involves a climb up 1,576 steps (86 floors) to the viewing deck at the top of the building, usually ending outside when the weather permits.

Having been run by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) for years, the ESBRU is now organised by NYC Runs.

The winners list for the ESBRU reads as a who’s who of tower running greats. From Terry Purcell, Cindy Harris and Thomas Dold to Darren Wilson, Christian Riedl, Piotr Lobodzinski and the incredible course record holder Paul Crake, the ESBRU podium has been topped by most of the best athletes to ever climb the stairs to the top of a tower.

Ten-time winner Suzy Walsham is in a league of her own at the venue, although it’s Austria’s Andrea Mayr who holds the women’s course record of 11:23, which she set back in 2006.

Walsham ESBRU 2019

Suzy Walsham made it a record ten ESBRU wins when she took victory in 2019

Empire State Building Run-Up Records

Fastest times

Paul Crake (AUS) – 9:33 (2003)

Andrea Mayr (AUT) – 11:23 (2006)

Most wins

Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 10

Thomas Dold (GER) – 7

You might also be interested in:

Eiffel tower at night

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel is one of the most prestigious stair running events in the world and in 2020 it returns for its sixth edition.

With just 130 entry spots up for grabs, with 40 of those set aside for elite athletes, competition just to take part is fierce. But the Eiffel Tower stair race is one of the best in the world and a joy to take part in. So if you’re free in March and want a challenge it’s well worth applying.

Read on to find out when the race is and how to enter.

When is the Eiffel Tower stair race 2020?

The sixth edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel will take place on Wednesday 11th March 2020 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

The event will start at approx. 8pm (local time) with amateur runners setting off first at around 8.10pm. The first athletes in the elite wave will likely set off around 9pm.

Note: the race format for the 2020 edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel has changed from the traditional climb up 1,665 steps to the top of the tower.

It will now involve two qualifying runs of 665 steps and then a final run for the fastest 10 women and 20 men, again up 665 steps.

Read our announcement for more details on the changes for 2020.

La verticale de la tour eiffel 2020

How to enter La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel?

The pre-registration process is now open at verticaltoureiffel.fr where you should find answers to all your questions.

81 places are available for amateur athletes who will be selected via a lottery.

  • In order to be considered for the lottery you have to fulfill some pre-selection criteria, such as proof of participation in a stair race over 700 steps, or completion of a 10km road race in under 50 minutes, within the past two years.

40 places are set aside for elite athletes from stair racing, trail running and road racing, selected by a panel of judges.

  • When you pre-register you are asked to select elite or amateur entry. A panel of judges will select 40 elite runners from those who’ve applied. Those who aren’t selected will go into the lottery for amateur spots.

10 people will be selected by the event organisers as wildcards.

  • In order to be considered for one of these wildcard spots you’ll have to submit a letter explaining why you should get one. Historically they’re reserved for event partners, celebrities, disabled athletes or people who’ve overcome the odds to make it to the event. Even if you don’t think your ‘story’ is compelling enough, it’s still worth submitting a letter anyway, in case you don’t get picked in the lottery. You never know.

It costs €10 to register and if you’re selected you’ll then have to pay an additional €50 to secure your place. You’ll also need to make sure you provide a signed medical certificate to clear you to participate.

The registration portal will close on Friday 6th December.

The elite selection will be completed on 17th December and the draw for the amateur places will happen on 19th December.

What is the Eiffel Tower stair race?
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Five-time winner Piotr Lobodzinski

The Eiffel Tower is the historical home of tower running. The first recorded tower race in the world took place there in 1905 and a second event was held in 1906.

Decades later, in 1995, another stair race was held. This time a select group of world-class French athletes from various disciplines battled it out for top spot.

After a 20 year hiatus, stair climbing returned to the tower again in 2015, when the first edition of La Verticale took place.

The modern race involves a climb up 1,665 steps to the third platform of the Eiffel Tower; considerably more than the very earliest editions that covered around 730 steps to just the second platform.

The race has had only two winners. Suzy Walsham (AUS) and Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) have both won the event five times in a row. They’ll aim to be back in March to see if they can make it six on the trot.

Looking for a race in the UK? Check out our UK tower race calendar 2020 to find out what events are on near you.

Heading into the latter part of 2019 the UK stair racing season is winding down, but there’s still one big event left to sign up to.

The NSPCC Gherkin Challenge has been running for over a decade and remains one of the biggest and best stair climb events in the UK.

Read on to find out all the key info on the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge 2019, including who might be in contention to set a new course record.

The NSPCC Gherkin Challenge

The Gherkin

What is it?

This challenging, charity stair climb event from the NSPCC returns for it’s 11th edition this year, giving runners the chance to climb 1,037 steps to the top of The Gherkin (aka 30 St Mary Axe). Entry is £20, with participants asked to commit to raise £250 sponsorship. Or, you can pay £149 upfront and forget about the fundraising.

Why should I do it?

Firstly, it’s an excellent cause and charity that deserves support. The NSPCC is the UK’s leading children’s charity and runs numerous projects to help safeguard youngsters and prevent abuse.

Secondly, the Gherkin Challenge is the second-biggest stair running event in the UK – after Vertical Rush – which makes for a great atmosphere on the day. The NSPCC have been running this successful event for over a decade now meaning they have a lot of experience about what works and how to put on a fun and exciting event.

Finally, this promises to be a competitive event where some of the best UK tower runners will be looking to break records. If you’re keen to test yourself against some of the top men and women in the country, this is one of the last chances you’ll get to do it in 2019.

Italy’s Fabio Ruga set the men’s course record of 4:07 back in 2010. Could Ruga’s time, or Rich Sirrs’ UK record of 4:23 set in 2015, be under threat?

Competition in the men’s stair races in the UK has really stepped up a level this year, with Mark Howard and Laurence Ball pushing the limits. Either man could well be capable of challenging those times.

The current women’s record of 5:33 is held by British stair running sensation, Sarah Frost. She is anticipated to demolish that time in October, so you could be there to witness history!

It’s definitely not one to be missed.

When is it?

Sunday 27th October 2019 at The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP

How do I sign up?

Gherkin Challenge 2019 registration

Check out our 2020 race calendar for a full list of upcoming stair climbing events in the UK.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital Walkie Talkie Tower Climb returns on Saturday 2nd March 2019.

Following a successful first event at the building last year, the team are back again to pit runners against the challenge of 36 floors and 828 steps, in a left-turning staircase that is perfect for fast times and will make the ideal practice/warm-up race for anyone who’s signed up for Vertical Rush.

Sign up now, or read on to find out a bit more about the event.

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Competitors will be treated to amazing views from the top and a celebratory drink in the popular Sky Garden, Europe’s highest roof garden. Add to that a technical t-shirt for each runner and a glitzy medal, and you have a brilliant event for a great cause.

WALKIE TALKIE SKY

The race finishes in the beautiful Sky Garden, with a panoramic view around London

Last year’s event was won by David Harris in 4:53, while the fastest woman on the day was Sarah Frost in 5:17. A sub 5-minute time for the men and a sub 5:30 for the women will be the key benchmarks for those keen tower runners looking to clock really fast times on the day.

But of course the event is wide open to all, no matter what fitness level. Last year over 250 people took part and GOSH will be hoping to get even more runners than that up the stairs next month.

All the money raised from the event will help fund groundbreaking research, advanced equipment, children and family support services and the rebuilding and refurbishment of wards and medical facilities at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The hospital provides a massive lifeline to sick children and their families. 619 children and young people from across the UK arrive at Great Ormond Street every day. All the doctors, nurses and staff there push themselves every day to provide the best care possible, but they can’t do it alone. Which is where you come in.

All the details and the registration link for the event can be found on the GOSH Walkie Talkie Tower Climb event page. We hope to see lots of you there.

La Verticale de La Tour Eiffel 2019 is just five weeks away and the excitement is building for the biggest race in the European tower running calendar.

The fifth edition of the event, which takes place on the evening of Wednesday 13th March, has a strong line up of some of the best tower runners in the world. In the women’s division, four-time winner Suzy Walsham is back to defend her title. Alongside her in Paris will be 14 others looking to do the impossible and unseat the Australian.

Read on to find out who’s who in the elite women’s division at the 2019 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

The Eiffel Tower stair race has come a long way from its early beginnings in 1905 and 1906.

MMe Baube

Mme. Baube, winner of the Eiffel Tower stair run in 1906

The latest version of the race began in 2015 and year-on-year it’s packed full of athletic talent from around the world. Just 15 women were selected to compete in the elite race at the 2019 edition. Read on to find out who they are.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel winners and course record

2018 – Suzy Walsham (10:02)

2017 – Suzy Walsham (9:34 – course record)

2016 – Suzy Walsham (9:48)

2015 – Suzy Walsham (9:44)

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Suzy Walsham – Australia

Suzy Walsham La Verticale 2018

The 2018 world champion has won every edition of this event since it began in 2015. At the start of the year she recorded her 100th tower running victory, in 12 years of competing on the stairs, and she is expected to make it 101 wins with this race. There are only a few stair runners in the world who can really compete with Walsham when she’s running well and none of them will be in Paris. It will be a big upset if she doesn’t make it five wins in a row.

@suzywalsham

Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik – Poland

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Wisniewska-Ulfik will be one of Walsham’s closest rivals on the night. The Polish star finished second at La Verticale in 2016 and third in 2018 and has a personal best of 10:32 at the tower. She was ranked fifth in the world at the end of last year, and finished fourth at the World Championships. With multiple wins and podium finishes at towers around the world, she is highly experienced. Beating Walsham will be too tall a task, but expect to see Wisniewska-Ulfik finish in second or third position.

Alice McNamara – Australia

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A two-time world rowing champion and winner of the 2011 Empire State Building Run-Up and 2016 Taipei 101 Run Up (among plenty of other wins), McNamara is a serious force on the stairs. She beat Walsham in that ESBRU victory eight years ago, but hasn’t had much success against her compatriot in recent times. She made her debut at La Verticale last year, finishing fourth in 11:09. She has the potential to finish on the podium, but it will probably be too tough a task given some of the other women in the race.

@_alice_mac

Muhua Jian – China

Muhua Jian

Along with Wisniewska-Ulfik, the Chinese youngster is likely to be Walsham’s biggest competition in Paris. Jian has improved a lot in 2018 alone and has begun to close the gap between her and the top women. In May she was fifth at the World Championships, but by October she was just 14 seconds behind Walsham at the Shanghai IFC. In December she was once again close to the Australian, finishing second to her at the TWA Tour Final at the Shanghai Tower, which earned her third overall in the final Tour standings. Bet the house on her getting somewhere on the podium, but first place might be just out of reach.

Anais Leroy – France

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A relative newcomer to the sport of tower running – although a long-time quality runner on the track and in cross country – Leroy has already made an impact. She was fifth in her La Verticale debut last year, with a time of 11:18. She finished off a very successful 2018 with a win at the Lilleurope Tower, so should be coming into the 2019 season with confidence high. A solid shout for another 5th-place finish, if not better.

@anais__leroy

Iwona Wicha – Poland

Iwona Wicha Rondo

The Polish star will be making her La Verticale debut in March. Wicha has loads of international race experience, with wins and podium finishes over the last few years. She finished 7th at the 2018 World Championships, ahead of many of her Paris rivals, so expect to see her well inside the top 10 and likely challenging Anais Leroy for fifth place. Wicha trains with tower running world champion and four-time La Verticale winner Piotr Lobodzinski, who happens to be her husband, so will be able to tap into his extensive knowledge of the course and how best to approach it.

@zyciezpasja

Amandine Bertrand – France

Amandine Bertrand

Another top French athlete who will be flying the flag for the home nation on March 13th. Wins and podium finishes throughout 2018, coupled with a decent showing at the World Championships in Taipei last May, should have Bertrand feeling confident about beating the 12:00 time she set at her La Verticale debut last year, which earned her 7th place.

@amandine.20.bertrand

Vanja Cnops – Belgium

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The Singapore-based Belgian was 8th at the World Championships last year, finishing ahead of some well-established runners, such as Brooke Logan and Christine Soskins, both of whom have competed well at previous La Verticales (Logan 5th in 2016, Soskins 7th in 2017). She has some good track times, too, with sub-17 5km and 35-minute 10km PBs. It bodes well for Cnops and she could well produce a sub 11:40 run in Paris, which should put her in contention for a top six finish at least.

@vanjacnops

Cristina Bonacina – Italy

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Winner of the Towerrunning World Cup in 2011, Bonacina is a highly experienced tower runner with a full spread of wins and podium finishes at venues around the world. She’s well familiar with the Eiffel Tower, too, having raced in the first three editions of La Verticale. If she can get close to her personal best of 11:45 (2015) she’ll be in with an outside shot of entering the top seven, but realistically a top-15 finish is more likely.

@cristina_bonacina

Sarah Frost – Great Britain

sarah frost

The leading UK tower runner at the moment with a host of wins and course records in her home country under her belt, despite a relatively short time in the sport. Already an established force on shorter courses, Frost is making her debut at La Verticale. She’s not massively experienced at this sort of distance, in comparison with her leading rivals in Paris, although she is course record holder at London’s 1,250-step Leadenhall Building and has raced the 2,700-step Valtellina Tube. Expect to see her potentially challenging for 6th, 7th or 8th position, but getting inside the top five will be tough given the strong field of more experienced runners.

@sarahchaneyfrost

Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel – Mexico

MelisaPML

Winner of the sprint, and second in the vertical mile, at the competitive Dallas Vert Mile event in January, Lopez Pimentel has had a great start to 2019 and is among the strongest women in the lineup for La Verticale. She made her debut at the event last year and finished sixth in 11:50. Impressive performances over the last 12 months, at home and abroad, brought her up to sixth in the final 2018 world rankings. She’ll be keen to push into the La Verticale top five this time around, but she’ll need a massive personal best performance to make it onto the podium.

@melisapml

Laurie Phai – Cambodia

Laurie Phai

A former professional table tennis player with the French national team, Phai transitioned to running in 2013 and has been competing at a decent level since, primarily in trail races. Her 2019 schedule is packed full of events, but La Verticale is the only tower run. She represents Cambodia, the country of her father, at the marathon distance and is hoping to break that country’s national record of 2.59 when she runs at the Berlin marathon in September. Hard to know what to expect from her, but would be surprised by anything much in advance of 10th position.

@lauriephai

Sonja Shakespeare – Great Britain

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Shakespeare debuted at La Verticale last year, finishing 12th in 12:38. She’s picked up a lot of tall tower race experience since then, competing in New York, Shanghai, Moscow, Hong Kong and more, so will be looking to push her time down into the low 12-minute range, which will hopefully be good enough to break into the top ten.

@sonjashakespeare

Laure Chardin – France

Laure Chardin

Chardin hasn’t been tower running for very long, but has had an impressive start to her career on the stairs, making it onto the podium at races around France. She finished in 11th position at La Verticale last year with a time of 12:37.

Kamila Chamanicova – Slovakia

Kamila Chomanicova

The Slovakian athlete finished in 20th position at her La Verticale debut last year with a time of 14:14, and she’ll be looking to finish in under 14 minutes this time around. Having picked up lots of experience at a number of international races in 2018, it should be possible.

The home of English rugby will become the home of stair climbing on Saturday 23rd March as Twickenham opens its gates for the Shooting Star Chase Stadium Challenge.

This is the first time Twickenham has ever hosted an event like this, so it’s a completely unique opportunity to get into one of the most iconic stadiums in the country, a week after the Six Nations has finished, and take on an incredible challenge of climbing up to 7,600 steps, while helping to raise vital funds for Shooting Star Chase.

Read on to find out how you can sign up for this unique stair climbing challenge.

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There have been very few stadium stair climb challenges ever in the UK, so if you want to try something different to a standard tower climb this event is definitely one to sign up for.

Not only do you get to climb in the fresh air at Twickenham, but you’ll get to push yourself to the limit and climb thousands of steps. Far more than you would in any normal tower run.

There are three routes to choose from, with options for all fitness levels:

The Ultra: Tackle 7,600 steps across all three tiers of the stadium. See the route below.

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The Classic: Climb 3,200 steps as you weave your way around the lowest tier of the stadium. See the route below.

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The family route: If you want to get involved, and maybe bring younger kids, but don’t fancy climbing all those steps, then you can choose this option which involves two or more laps around the edge of the pitch.

 

As an added incentive, everyone who hits their fundraising target by 1st March will be entered into a draw to win one of two pairs of tickets to the England V Scotland Six Nations game on Saturday 16th March (5pm kick off).

Find out more details and sign up at www.shootingstarchase.org.uk/stadium-challenge

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What is Shooting Star Chase?

Shooting Star Chase is a children’s hospice charity, which supports life-limited children and their families. They have two hospices, one a few miles from Twickenham in Hampton and the other in Guildford, and also provide over 800 hours of hospice at home care each month.

The charity, which relies on public donations for 90% of its funding, helps by providing respite care, short breaks, family activities and pre and post-bereavement. Whether lives are measured in days, months or years they are there to help families going through the toughest of times.

Sign up now at www.shootingstarchase.org.uk/stadium-challenge

Landed here but looking for UK stair climb events for 2020? Check out our latest article instead.

The 2019 UK stair racing season gets under way in February, and spaces at some of the key events are already beginning to fill up.

With big races happening in Manchester, Leicester and London there are opportunities to take part in a stair race in the north, midlands and south of the country.

Here are three of the best UK tower running events we think you should be looking to sign up for in the coming months.

1. The Christie Tower Run
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Beetham Tower has 798 steps and is the 11th tallest tower in the UK.

What is it?

This challenging, charity stair climb event returns for a third year, giving runners the chance to climb 798 steps to the top of Beetham Tower, Manchester’s tallest building. Entry is £15, with participants asked to commit to raise £150 sponsorship.

Why should I do it?

Firstly, it’s an excellent cause and charity that deserves support. The Christie charity is one of the largest hospital charities in Europe. It exists to raise funds for all those extra special services that help patients to cope with the impact of cancer on their daily lives.  Donations also contribute towards their cancer research programmes, capital building projects and the purchase of state of the art medical equipment.

Secondly, if you’re in the north of the country you’ll know that stair races are thin on the ground up there, even though we’ve seen more events popping up outside of London year-on-year. Now entering its third edition, this brilliant event is maintaining the presence of stair climbing in the north of England. For those north of the Midlands this is an easily accessible race to try. For stair climbers in the capital, it’s a welcome opportunity to escape London and climb one of the other tallest buildings in the UK.

It’s definitely not one to be missed.

When is it?

Sunday 24th February 2019 at Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ.

How do I sign up?

The Christie Tower Run registration

2. LOROS Tower Run

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What is it?

A sprint event up the 351-step St George’s Tower in central Leicester.

Why should I do it?

It’s cheap. Just £17 entry with no fundraising commitment, or free entry if you can fundraise £50 or more for LOROS. With most UK races requiring you to raise sponsorship in excess of £100 on top of your entry fee, this friendly and very well-organised event is an absolute bargain.

The 351-step building is one of the the shortest courses in the UK, so is a great introductory climb for those who want to try out stair climbing but are maybe a bit daunted by the challenge of one of the bigger towers.

For more experienced climbers, it’s a rare opportunity to go all out in a sprint and throw off the shackles of pacing that is sometimes so hard to get right during climbs in taller buildings.

It’s seen some really close battles in the last couple of years, and 2019 promises to be just as competitive.

It will also make a great warm-up race for those doing Vertical Rush for Shelter in London on 14th March.

When is it?

Saturday 9th March 2019 at St George’s Tower, 1A St Georges Way, Leicester, LE1 1SH.

How do I sign up?

LOROS Tower Run registration

3. The Broadgate Tower Run Up

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What is it?

A challenging stair climb up the 877-step Broadgate Tower in the City of London.

Why should I do it?

It’s hard to get into one of the big London towers for a race without committing to fundraising a sizeable minimum amount of money for a charity. But this event is largely focused on tower running as a sporting challenge, meaning you can just pay to race without having to raise any money. Although the opportunity to run for a chosen charity will be available for those who want to do that.

It attracts a deep field of experienced stair runners, so if you’re up for a challenge you’ll have the chance to pit yourself against some of the best in the UK and Europe. But there’ll be plenty of newcomers at this welcoming event, too, making it an excellent choice if you’re keen to try a stair climb for the first time.

In addition to the traditional single-climb event, there will also be the option of doing a 1/4 Vertical Mile or a Full Vertical Mile, which involve multiple climbs up the building’s 877 steps.

Broadgate Tower is one of the big London towers and is a great venue to climb.

When is it?

Saturday 20th July 2019 at Broadgate Tower, 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AB.

How do I sign up?

Registration isn’t open just yet, but you can register interest and get more event details on the Total Motion Events website.

 

For a full list of upcoming stair races in the UK check out our regularly updated tower running race calendar.

The Christie’s Tower Run returns to Manchester for its third edition on Sunday 24th February 2019 at the city’s 46-floor Beetham Tower.

Standing at 169m, and with 798 steps, Beetham Tower is the tallest UK building outside of London. It played host to competitive races in 2017 and 2018 and you can expect the 2019 edition to be another fantastic one.

Read on to find out more about The Christie’s Tower Run or head straight to the registration page to book your place at what might be one of the only stair climbs in the north of England in 2019.

Beetham Tower

Beetham Tower, Manchester’s tallest building

The Christie’s Manchester stair climb 2019
What is it?

This challenging, charity stair climb event returns for a third year, giving runners the chance to climb 798 steps to the top of Beetham Tower, Manchester’s tallest building.

Sign up before 1st December and entry is just £10 (after that it will be £15), with participants asked to commit to raise £150 sponsorship for the charity.

Why should I do it?

Firstly, it’s an excellent cause and charity that deserves support. The Christie charity is one of the largest hospital charities in Europe. It exists to raise funds for all those extra special services that help patients to cope with the impact of cancer on their daily lives.  Donations also contribute towards their cancer research programmes, capital building projects and the purchase of state of the art medical equipment.

Secondly, if you’re in the north of the country you’ll know that stair races are thin on the ground up there. We’ve seen more events popping up outside of London year-on-year, and in 2017 the launch of this event heralded the welcome return of stair climbing to the north west of England. For those north of the Midlands this is a brilliant and easily accessible race to try. For stair climbers in the capital, it’s a welcome chance to escape London and climb one of the other tallest buildings in the UK.

Thirdly, it was a really popular and competitive event in 2017 and 2018, with climbers universally praising the organisation and atmosphere on the day. It’s definitely not one to be missed.

When is it?

Sunday 24th February 2019 at Beetham Tower, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ, with waves from 10am to 2pm.

Beetham Tower course record holders

Patrik Schneidgen (SVK) – 4.17  (2017)

Sonja Shakespeare (GBR) – 5.39  (2018)

How do I sign up?

The Christie Tower Run registration

The Vertical World Circuit will return to London on Saturday 24th November with an event at Broadgate Tower in the heart of the City of London.

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Returning for its third edition, the Broadgate Tower Run Up will see some of the very best tower runners in the world race up the building’s 35 floors and 877 steps.

The event takes over from Vertical Rush as the London stage of the multi-race series held at towers across the world. The Broadgate Tower Run Up will be valid for an extra 25% bonus points on the VWC final ranking, a competition that sees the world’s top stair climbers compete for the VWC Champion title and cash prizes.

The other eight races in the series will take place in towers in Korea, France, USA, Philippines, China, Japan and Hong Kong.

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The London event is being organised by Total Motion Events.

‘Total Motion are honoured to be hosting the London leg of the prestigious Vertical World Circuit at The Broadgate Tower in November 2018. We look forward to welcoming the world’s top stair climbers to the UK where they will be competing for valuable points in the last 2018 VWC event before the grand final in Hong Kong,’ said Total Motion CEO, Matt Hudson.

Aside from the elite race, the Broadgate Tower Run Up will also have new family categories, with options for one adult plus one child, as well as two adults and two children.

We’ll also see the return of the ¼ Vertical Mile and full Vertical Mile races to the UK. Most stair climbing events consist of one climb to the top however Total Motion are offering the chance to climb Broadgate Tower three times to reach a quarter vertical mile, or 12 times to reach a full vertical mile.

Nobody else offers this in the UK, so if you’re really keen to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and one climb just won’t cut it, then this is definitely the event for you.

With the popularity of stair climbing rising year-on-year, demand is likely to be high for this high-profile event so if you’re considering it, it’s probably best to get your place booked up early.

*Update Oct, 2019 – this event has now finished

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In less than 48 hours time the 2018 tower running world champion will be crowned. Who will it be?

2015 world champion and current world number one Piotr ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski is the understandable pre-race favourite. In March, the Polish star took victory at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, holding off the challenge from most of the same top-level rivals he’ll face in Taipei on Saturday. In fact, Lobodzinski finished a fairly comfortable 15 seconds ahead of second place Christian Riedl in Paris.

The best in the world have been fairly quiet since that talent-stacked race in March. Jakob Mayer, Frank Carreno and Tomas Celko were in Valtellina last month taking on the 2,700-step course there, but Riedl, Bourne and Lobodzinski have kept a fairly low profile as they prepared for this weekend’s championship.

Based solely on recent form, and specifically the result from Paris, picking Lobodzinski to retain his world title appears to be the smart bet. The Pole seems to be in almost unbeatable form.

But taking a look at results going back the last few years, it starts to look a lot less straightforward.

Who can beat Lobodzinski?

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The World Championship format consists of two races. Race one is up 824 steps of Taipei 101 and race two, 90 minutes later, will be a full run of the tower up 91 floors/2,046 steps. Points will be assigned to the top 50 and the person with the most combined points after the two races will be world champion. If points are tied after the two rounds, highest finishing position in race two will determine the overall winner.

With the most prestigious races on the tower running circuit happening at towers with more than 1,500 steps it’s not so easy to find shorter events where the world’s elite have gone head-to-head. But there have been some races that give an indication of how the top male stair climbers fare against each other in shorter races.

The Rondo 1 event in Warsaw, Poland is run over 836-steps/38 floors; very close to the distance of race one at the World Championship. Back in February, Lobodzinski took a fairly comfortable win there, finishing 11 seconds ahead of Germany’s Christian ‘The Eclipse’ Riedl.

But go a bit further back to the Grand Prix of Europe races in Vienna and Brno in September 2017 and Showtime looks a lot more mortal over the shorter distance.

At the 779-step Danube Tower in Vienna, Lobodzinski beat ‘The Zilina Avalanche’ Tomas Celko by just one second. The following day in Brno, Czech Republic, at the 700-step AZ Tower, it was Celko who came out on top, finishing three seconds ahead of Showtime.

Mark Bourne tends not to compete at shorter distances, purely because the towers with races in Australia and Asia are massive. Estimating how he might do over 824 steps is an all-important unknown.

But Lobodzinski can be taken on the short course. Celko and Riedl will be pushing him hard for sure, and he is in no way guaranteed maximum points in that first race. On the long course, his dominance is a bit more established and he is very rarely beaten. But Bourne can beat him over that distance and he has done it several times before.

Bourne vs Lobodzinski: a recent history

These two have clashed multiple times, and the Australian has probably beaten Lobodzinski in the mega-towers more times than any other stair climber on the circuit has managed to do (to be fair, very few have).

In April 2017 the pair faced off at the 1st Lotte World Tower Skyrun in Seoul, Korea. The race at the fifth tallest building in the world goes up 2,917 steps. Bourne kept Lobodzinski in second place there, finishing 14 seconds ahead of him.

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Mark Bourne wins the Lotte World Tower Sky Run 2017

Then in October 2017, Bourne took victory ahead of Showtime when they raced at Two Shanghai IFC in China. That was over 1,958 steps and Bourne won by nine seconds.

Three weeks later they met again at the 1,621-step Harukas Tower in Osaka, Japan, and Lobodzinski exacted revenge on ‘The Canberra Assassin’, finishing 13 seconds ahead.

Two weeks after that, it was Lobodzinski again who took the spoils, this time at the mammoth 3,398-stair Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world. Bourne was pushed back into third by Christian Riedl.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in March was the last time the pair met. Lobodzinski made it four wins in a row at the iconic Parisian landmark, while Bourne finished in fourth.

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Lobodzinski on his way to winning La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2018

So, despite Lobodzinski having the upper hand in their last three races, Bourne has shown on multiple occasions that he is more than a match. He has the ability to win the full-length race on Saturday.

How do they compare at Taipei 101?

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If we go back a little further and compare the two at Taipei 101, we add another potentially significant element to the discussion.

In 2013 Bourne beat Lobodzinski by 20 seconds on his way to setting the third fastest time ever clocked at the tower. Riedl was third.

In 2014, the podium looked exactly the same. This time, though, Lobodzinski had significantly narrowed the gap and was only four seconds behind Bourne.

Bourne was missing from the race in 2015, and Lobodzinski took his first and only win at the venue.

Neither man was there in 2016, and Bourne returned last year to take victory, with Lobodzinski absent.

So, between the two, Bourne has the fastest time at the World Championship venue and the most recent win. This is sure to give him the confidence to look beyond the most recent results between them at other towers.

If Bourne can stay within touching distance of Showtime in the shorter distance race, i.e. no more than one place behind him, then he will put himself in genuine contention for seriously competing for the title in the final race on Saturday morning.

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