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The 2017 UK Tower Running Championship is now well underway, with the first three races already completed. We catch up with all the action from the past couple of weeks.

Beetham Tower Run, Manchester, 2017

The first race was held on 26 February at Beetham Tower, Manchester where a hotly anticipated battle between reigning UK champion Mark ‘The Marauder’ Sims and Slovakia’s Patrik ‘The Nitra Nitro’ Schneidgen – newly resident in the UK- didn’t disappoint.

Schneidgen managed to set a new course record (4.17) at the 798-step venue and also logged his first win over the ever-strong Sims, who finished in 4.29. Full results here.

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‘The Nitra Nitro’ Patrik Schneidgen celebrates his victory at Manchester’s Beetham Tower

Conquer the Broadgate Tower, London, 2017

The following weekend, 4th March, the action was in London at Broadgate Tower. Again it was Schneidgen and Sims who went head-to-head for top honours. Sims had defeated the young Slovak track star twice before at the venue in the City of London, but buoyed by his victory in Manchester, Schneidgen entered the race with supreme confidence.

He managed to take another win, in a time of 4.21, with Sims a mere four seconds behind. Full results here.

St George’s Tower Run, Leicester, 2017

Last weekend, 11th March, saw race three of the UK championships in Leicester. The sprint event, at the 351-step St George’s Tower, drew in some well-known European tower runners, including Rolf ‘The Wanderer’ Majcen. With Schneidgen racing in Poland on the same day, it was a perfect chance for Mark Sims to make up some lost ground and win again at a venue he dominated at last year.

Not only did he manage to hold off a strong challenge from Spain’s Christian Lopez, he also broke his own course record (which he set at the venue’s inaugural race last year) by three seconds, finishing in a time of 1.32. Full results here.

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Two-time UK champion Mark Sims toasts his new course record at St George’s Tower in Leicester

UK Tower Running Championship 2017

In its third year, the UK Tower Running Championship has a simple format and is open to all UK residents. Each race in the series has points on offer, ranging from 40 for the winner down to 10 for tenth place. The full breakdown of points in descending order is: 40, 32, 26, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10.

The person with the mosts points accumulated at the end of the series is crowned UK champion.

Year on year we have added more races to the championship. In 2015 there were four races, in 2016 there were six, and for 2017 we hope to possibly top that. At the time of writing we have had three races, with one more definitely in the calendar for September. We will be adding more races as they are announced and you can track which events are part of the UK championship series by following our regularly updated UK stair race calendar.

You can see the current standings in this year’s championship below.

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The third installment of the UK tower running championship begins in just under two weeks time on Sunday 26th February with The Christie Tower Run at Beetham Tower in Manchester.

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Beetham Tower, Manchester

The first race of the planned six-race series starts at the tenth tallest tower in the UK and is hosted by The Christie Charity. Two-time UK champion, and current course record holder, Mark ‘The Marauder’ Sims will be there on the day to begin the defence of his title, as he seeks to make it three championship wins in a row.

He will be challenged by Slovakia’s Patrik ‘The Nitra Nitro’ Schneidgen aka ‘Mr Guinness’. The two standout stair climbers have had a number of head-to-head battles over the last 16 months, with Sims coming out on top in each race. But sprint specialist Schneidgen will surely welcome a race at the 798 step Beetham Tower. Having run Sims incredibly close at last year’s Broadgate Tower Run Up (877 steps), he will fancy his chances of an upset in Manchester.

Sims, however, is a man for all occasions. It was not by chance the Liverpool-based tower runner found himself in the world’s top-20 at the end of last year. His times and conditioning have been improving year-on-year. He will be determined to secure his status as arguably the greatest stair climber the UK has ever seen by making it three championship titles in a row. With a solid performance at The Climb to Abu Dhabi race last month, Sims is obviously in good shape heading into the domestic season.

The Christie Tower Run will see stair climbing return to the north of England for the first time since 2014. We know there are fast guys in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Merseyside and beyond. Personal trainer Peter Hopson is still record holder at Bridgewater Place in Leeds. Will he be racing in Manchester? Will the event attract some new talent to the UK tower running scene? Can the dominance of Mark Sims be broken by some as yet unknown athlete?

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There is still time to sign up to take part in The Christie Tower Run. The event is open to people of all abilities and there is no qualifying criteria for entry in the UK championship. The top ten finishers will be awarded points and they will carry those into the remaining races of the championship. The athlete with the most points at the end of the year will be crowned 2017 UK tower running champion.

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It’s always an exciting time at Tower Running UK HQ when a new building plays host to a stair race. Last year the charity Mencap held a great event that involved three stair climbs around London, culminating in a final climb at 20 Fenchurch Street, aka the Walkie Talkie Building or the Jaguar Melter.

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This year the Mencap team return to Fenchurch Street on Sunday 17 July with a single-climb event. The unique-looking building in the City of London has 36 floors and 828 steps, in a left turning staircase that is perfect for fast times.

Competitors will be treated to amazing views from the top and a champagne reception in the popular Sky Garden, Europe’s highest roof garden. Add to that prizes for the fastest runners and highest fundraisers and you have a brilliant event for a great cause – helping support those with learning disabilities.

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All the details for the event can be found on Mencap’s event web page here. We hope to see a lot of you there.

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Mark “The Marauder” Sims took victory in the first race of the 2016 UK Championship on Sunday at St George’s Tower in Leicester.

In its first year, the race was set up by Leicester-based charity LOROS, and attracted a mixed bag of competitors ranging from local runners and first time stair climbers to some of the UK’s most established tower runners.

Around 40 competitors turned out in the city centre to tackle the tower’s 351 stairs, with runners setting off at 2 minute intervals. It wasn’t until after 10am that the competition really began to heat up, with Surrey club runner Alex Ward the first of the elite climbers to set off. 2015 was Ward’s first season in stair climbing and he showed fantastic potential with numerous podium finishes in the UK Championship. Building on his experience he set a blistering opening time of 1:41:23 to establish himself as the leader.

Next to follow was reigning UK Champion Sims. He has been the most consistent British stair climber for years and was a firm favourite entering this race. As expected he was in incredible form and stripped a full six seconds off the lead time as he reached the top in 1:35:62. Sims was accompanied on the day by his 16 year old son Isaac who was taking part in his first stair race. Geneticists  were nodding sagely as the younger Sims took a top 10 finish (2:22) and showed that athletic prowess runs in the family.

One of the final runners on the day was David Harris. A regular on the UK and world tower running scene, Harris had climbed the BT Tower in London the day before but was still expected to push for a podium finish. He did just that, reaching the top in 1:53:56 – only the third sub-two minute time on the day.

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The Top Three: (l-r) Ward, Sims and Harris

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The final of the UK Tower Running Championship is now officially confirmed, and will take place on Sunday 13th December at The Heron Tower as part of Action on Hearing Loss‘ Operation: SKYRACE.

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At the moment the charity, which among its many goals works to support those with hearing problems while aiming to find cures for hearing loss and tinnitus, has an Early Bird entry offer at a reduced rate of £15. This will increase to £25 at the end of August so those hoping to take part are highly encouraged to sign up soon before that ends. Team entries for groups of 5 are also available. Registration is available HERE!

Action on Hearing Loss have guaranteed elite starts to all those hoping to compete for the title of UK stair running champion and there will be prizes from The Altitude Centre for winners and runners up in the men’s and women’s category.

The first stair running champion of the UK will be crowned on 13th December 2015. If you want to be in with a chance of competing for the title, make sure you sign up quickly before spaces run out.

Soh Wai-Ching Vertical Rush 2019

If you haven’t put in the training you won’t be winning anything. But, fitness level aside, there are a few things to know that could give you an edge as you take part in Vertical Rush 2020.

The event, which is organised by the charity Shelter, takes place at London’s Tower 42 and is by far the most popular and well-established stair running race in the UK calendar.

In 2019 over 1,400 participants took part, and 2020 promises to be just as big, which leads us right into our first tip.

Get there early

To facilitate the large numbers of runners, the day is split into hourly waves with the first going at 8am. In 2018, Shelter introduced a night run so people set off as late as 8pm. This extended run of waves is expected to return again in 2020. From experience there is less hype and razmatazz in the morning waves, which will allow you to keep focused on the task at hand.

The later sessions have press, cameras, filmed warm-ups and more standing around in the early March cold. Plus the later you leave it the more hands pass along the railings and the greasier they get, which can cause your hand to slip as you pull yourself along. There also seems to be less people in the earlier waves, which leads into the second tip.

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Would Boris and his horn help keep your head in the game?

Get to the front

Unlike at other races around the world, many UK races don’t have a designated ‘elite’ start. If you email in advance and express a desire to start at the front, it will be accepted, but you won’t always find there’s someone on hand to ensure you are brought to the front of your wave of runners.

This is certainly the case for Vertical Rush, where the people involved with registration are not the ones bringing you through to the start. So, the onus will be on you to get to the front of your wave.

At Vertical Rush the registration desk and bag drop are in a separate building to the stairs. You will be led a short walk outside between the two buildings and into a small basement type area with a central pillar. The entrance to the stairs is through a door on the right hand side as you walk into the ‘holding area’. Get in line at the entrance to the door immediately.

An organiser will give a brief talk and then point to the start line, after which a slight rush happens, as people queue up. If you are not in position, you will likely end up several dozen places back and be faced with the task of passing slower climbers on the way up.

Another reason to start at the front is the haphazard staggering of runners. At previous events, runners should have been spaced by a minimum of 5-10 seconds. This does not always happen, and it is not uncommon for the excitement to overcome some people and for them to just pour onto the stairs in groups.

If you are not at the very front, or at least in the first five, you will certainly lose precious seconds on the early floors as you weave past others and wait for the numbers to space out a bit.

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The madness of a mass start at one of the earlier Vertical Rush events.

Details about the stairs

Knowing a bit about the stairs in a building prior to racing can be a real help, as it allows you to visualise the event a lot clearer and keep pre-race nerves to a minimum (click through if you want more details on how to handle pre-race nerves).

The stairwell at Vertical Rush is left turning and goes up in blocks of nine steps per flight. Each floor is numbered so you can keep a check on your pacing. The hand rail running along the inside of the stairwell is flat topped, which can make gripping slightly awkward, but it does curve nicely at the landings, making turns fairly smooth.

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