Alexis Trujillo Strat 2019

One of the new stars on the tower running circuit, Alexis Trujillo’s stair climbing career is on the ascendancy.

With multiple wins under his belt this year, including at Scale the Strat in Las Vegas back in February, plus hard-earned podium places at some of the most competitive events on the circuit, Trujillo is currently sitting in third in the Towerrunning World Association rankings.

Fresh off the back of his victory at Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago last weekend, we caught up with the Mexican athlete to find out more about that race, his training this year and his plans for 2020.

SkyRise Chicago 2019

The 2,159-step Willis (Sears) Tower stair climb is one of the toughest in the USA, and it’s winner’s list reads like a Who’s Who of tower running legends.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, Trujillo added his name to that distinguished group.

Willis Tower

Willis (Sears) Tower is home to the SkyRise Chicago stair race

‘In general terms it was a very good race. This is a difficult building to run in, because the height of the steps varies and therefore maintaining a consistent pace isn’t possible,’ said Trujillo.

‘I did well. But in reality it didn’t go exactly as I planned, since I couldn’t fully maintain the pace with which I started. My idea was to finish sub 13-mins [only Frank Carreno (12:58, 2017) has finished the course in under 13 minutes]. At the beginning I felt I was maintaining that rhythm, but, as I said, to sustain a constant rhythm in this building is very difficult.’

‘In this race we were placed in order of how we finished in the event last year. So the order was first Frank [Carreno], then Görge [Heimann] and finally me. But Görge gave me his place so I started second. The runners set off 10 seconds apart and that made it more challenging.’

‘At around the 20th floor I reached Frank and I stayed behind him for about 10-15 floors until he let me pass. After that I felt motivated and increased the pace to be able to continue with my goal of finishing in less than 13 minutes. But I couldn’t stand the pace and on the 60th floor I had a sudden drop in energy. Then, on the 80th floor, I perceived Görge behind [the race finishes on the 103rd floor].’

‘But I know that we’re very close in the world rankings and that this was one of the decisive competitions to maintain third place in the world rankings, so I changed my mental chip. I don’t know where I got energy to get my second wind, but suddenly I made a change of pace in the last 20 floors.’

alexis trujillo

Trujillo celebrates his win at SkyRise Chicago 2019

‘I felt very strong at the beginning and at the end. I think the adrenaline did its thing to make it happen. The critical state was from the 40th to the 80th floor where I felt weak and slowed down considerably. I think that tower running is mostly a mental sport and one of the strategies to manage this drop in energy is to apply sports psychology.’

Behind the scenes

In winning at Willis last weekend, Trujillo managed to take 21 seconds off the time he clocked there in 2018. What’s been the difference this year that’s seen him take his performances to another level?

‘There have been a set of factors and changes that have helped me improve since July. I decided to be more specific in tower running training. I started adapting all I’d learnt with my athletic trainer, Alejandro Zamudio, to the stairs, and experimenting with training methods that I learned as a triathlon coach a few years ago.’

Towerrunning Mexico athletes

Alexis Trujillo with some of his fellow Towerrunning Mexico athletes

‘For example, I’m now doing two or three specific stair sessions, and only one track session, per week. With this I can say that I have decided to sacrifice my performance in horizontal races in order to improve my performance in vertical races.’

‘In addition, the Towerrunning Mexico Federation, alongside Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) has supported us with a multidisciplinary team of specialists in nutrition, psychology and physiotherapy. These three elements have helped me a lot in the last few months and have been instrumental in me obtaining good results.’

The end of the year and beyond

‘My main plan for the rest of this year is to compete at the TWA Tour Final [Nov. 24] in Shanghai, China, since in this competition the final positions of the 2019 world ranking will be defined. I’ll finally close out the season with the WTC race in Mexico City on December 15. Then, I’ll take a vacation to come back next year full of energy.

WTC Mexico City towerrunning 2019

The WTC in Mexico City where Trujillo will have his final race of 2019

‘Next year I will start with triathlon preparation, a sport in which I trained for eight years. I think this can give me a general basis for vertical races and as the competitive stage approaches, I will start to do specific sessions on stairs.

The 2020 events that I have considered are the following:

Stratosphere – Las Vegas
Eiffel Tower – Paris
KL Tower – Malasya
Towerrunning World Championship 2020 – Taipei 101
Empire State Building Run-Up – New York
Ping An Finance Center – Shenzhen
Hotel Bali – Benidorm
Ostankino Tower – Moscow
UFO Tower – Bratislava
Willis (Sears) Tower – Chicago (once again)
Eureka Tower – Australia
TWA Tour Final – Shanghai

However, that competitive schedule depends heavily on obtaining sponsorships to cover the travel costs implicated.’

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Andrea Mayr 2019

In a sport as small and widely ignored as tower running, you’d be forgiven for having never heard of one its finest practitioners. Even more so when you consider this legend has routinely dipped in and out of the sport over a 15-year period, gracing it with short, but lasting, flashes of brilliance before disappearing from the scene for years at a time.

Although you may never have heard of her, Andrea Mayr is one of the best athletes in the world. She’s a six-time world mountain running champion, the course record holder and three-time winner at the Empire State Building Run-Up, the fastest woman to have run up Taipei 101 and has represented Austria at the World Athletics Championships (3000m SC, 2005) and Olympic Games (marathon, 2012 and 2016).

In 2015, after a long break from stair climbing, Mayr came down from the mountains to win the Towerrunning World Championship in Doha, Qatar. Then she disappeared again. What’s she been up to?

Four successful years

You could fill a small book detailing what Andrea Mayr’s been doing in the past four years. What follows is only a snapshot of the accolades she’s bagged during this period. There’s way too much to cover in detail.

She won the World Mountain Running Championship and the World Mountain Running Association World Cup (WMRA) in 2016.

Andrea-Mayr-2016-World-Mountain-Running-Championships-winner

Andrea Mayr on her way to winning the 2016 World Mountain Running Championship

In 2017, she was second at the World Mountain Running Championship and third at the European Mountain Running Championship. She also won the vertical race at the Ski Mountaineering World Championship that year.

In 2018 she won the WMRA World Cup and the Red Bull 400 World Championship.

Red Bull 400 Mayr 2018

Mayr begins to pull away at the Red Bull 400 World Championship 2018

In among that busy 2018 season, Mayr was invited to partake in the Towerrunning World Championships at Taipei 101 in May.

But she was forced to withdraw due to injury, denying her the chance to defend the world title she’d won in 2015.

In terms of participation on the stairs, that news that she wouldn’t be able to compete was pretty much the last the tower running community heard about Mayr.

1st-winner-womens-category-2

Andrea Mayr wins the 2015 Towerrunning World Championships

But, as we head into another Towerrunning World Championship year, attention turns her way once more.

A wildcard entry to the event at Taipei 101 in May 2020 will be extended to the Austrian. Whether she decides to accept it is another matter. We can but hope.

It’s worth noting that Mayr is a medical doctor, working the long shifts associated with that profession and still taking examinations. The fact she has found time to put in the training required to stay at the top of the world mountain running and ski mountaineering circuit is miraculous. And that busy schedule could be an issue.

When she returned in 2015 to win the Towerrunning World Championship, she did so with no stair workouts. Suzy Walsham came within a whisker of beating her day.

If Mayr decides to come back next year she may want to set aside some time for tower running specific workouts that will put her in the best position to contend with Walsham, the resurgent Valentina Belotti and who knows who else.

But will she be able to find time? Will she even want to come back?

There’s much to ponder.

But let’s see where Mayr is now. We pick up her trail in the first quarter of 2019.

Ski mountaineering World Championships

On Wednesday 13th March 2019, Mayr was in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland for the Ski mountaineering World Championships.

When Mayr had won the title in 2017, she had done so as somewhat of an underdog against younger emerging stars like Emelie Forsberg. But this year, as the defending champion, there was far more expectation on her.

In ski-mountaineering, Mayr prefers steep courses. With her strong mountain running background, she is no stranger to routes with big vertical gains, and she was anticipating a steep course at these world champs.

But due to safety concerns as a result of adverse weather conditions, the race organisers were forced to change the route to a flatter one just a day before the event. The 4km course would take in 420m of vertical gain.

The change made Mayr nervous. But you’d never have guessed as she stormed to back-to-back titles.

You can see her in action in the video below and hear her thoughts on the race.

ismf-world-cup-sprintrace2019-vertical-race-52

Vertical kilometer course record at Trofeo Nasego

On Saturday 18th May, in rain swept Casto, Italy, Mayr went head-to-head with long-time rival Andrea Belotti. The battleground this time was the tough vertical kilomoter race at the Trofeo Nasego mountain running event.

Mayr was in majestic form as she broke the previous course record by more than four minutes, to finish in 38:39.

Clips from her winning run – from start line to finish – can be seen in the first minute and a bit of the video below.

Austrian Mountain Running Championship

On Sunday 2nd June, the Internationaler Raiffeisen Lipizzanerheimat Berglauf doubled as the Austrian national mountain running championships.

andreamayr-lipizzaner-bl-12_000

Mayr completely dominated the race. She completed the 9.2km course (with 1,075 gain) in 52:20, over seven minutes faster than the second-placed woman.

Course record at Katrinberglauf

As the 2018 champion and course record holder at the Katrinberglauf in Austria, Mayr returned to the mountain on Sunday 16th June to defend her title.

She continued her run of outstanding form to take almost a minute off her previous best time.

Mayr Katrinberglauf2

Andrea Mayr leads out the field at the Katrinberglauf 2019

Mayr Katrinberglauf

Crossing icy ground on her way to setting a new course record

European Mountain Running Championships

Winner in 2005 and 2013-2015, and then third in 2017, the Austrian has a great record at these championships.

On Sunday, 7th July in Zermatt, Switzerland she was back to challenge Europe’s best once again. The race was across a 10.1 km course with 1,030 meters of ascent.

Standing between Mayr and a fifth title was the incredible Swiss athlete, Maude Mathys, winner in 2017 and 2018.

Andrea Mayr 2019

Mayr during the European Mountain Running Championships 2019

Despite maintaining a narrow lead in the first half of the race over the steeper parts of the course, Mayr was reeled back in by the younger Mathys as the course leveled out in the second half.

Mayr finished second, a minute back from Mathys who secured her third European crown in a row.

Piz Tri Vertical

A little under a month later (Saturday 3rd August), Mayr was back in Italy for another battle with Valentina Belotti at a vertical kilometer race (across a 3.5km course).

At the 2018 edition of the event, the Austrian had broken Belotti’s course record. The 38:11 she ran that day was called a ‘phenomenal’ and ‘sensational’ time.

That reporter would have done well to keep some superlatives back for the 2019 race report, because Mayr obliterated that record as she crossed the line in 37:20.

Andrea Mayr PizTri Vertikal 2019

On the course of the Piz Tri Vertical 2019

Red Bull 400 Bischofshofen

Three weeks later (Saturday 24th August), Mayr was on home soil to take part in the Red Bull 400 race in Bischofshofen.

She was looking to win the event for the fourth time in a row, and was squaring off against fellow Austrian multi-sport athlete, and tower runner, Veronika Windisch.

Mayr won in a brilliant 3:52, followed by Windisch in 4:44 and Finland’s Mila Koljonen in 4:46.

‘I really felt very good from the beginning and especially in the last part, where the spectators are so close. You feel really motivated,’ she told Red Bull. ‘I’m really happy with the race. It’s a competition that really is a lot of fun and that’s one of the main reasons I participate.’

red-bull-400-bischofshofen-2019-andrea-mayr

Pulling away at the Red Bull 400 Bischofshofen

Back to the Hochfelln-Berglauf

As the course record holder and nine-time winner of the Hochfelln-Berglauf, including five straight wins from 2014-2018, Mayr was expected to secure an astonishing 10th title when she returned to the event on Sunday 29th September.

And she did. It was the slowest winning time of all of her victories, but she still finished three and a half minutes ahead of second place.

mayr hochfelln 2019

Mayr completed the roughly 9km course (with 1,074m of vertical gain) in 49:51.

Hochfelln podium 2019

Ten-time winner of the Hochfelln-Berglauf

What’s next?

So, after that snapshot of her stacked 2019 season, this is where we find the magisterial Andrea Mayr.

On Friday 15th November in Villa La Angostura, Argentina the World Mountain Running Championships will take place. Mayr will likely be planning to be in attendance to see if she can win a seventh title. She finished 6th in 2018.

Beyond that is the Towerrunning World Championship at Taipei 101 in May, 2020.

By the time that comes around it will be almost 15 years since she set the course record of 12:38 at the tower in November, 2005.

Will we get to see one of the best tower runners of all time race again?

We can only hope.

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Hustle up the Hancock

1998 ?
1999 ?
2000 Joe Kenny (USA) 10:22  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:10 – results
2001 Steve Pala (USA) 10:35  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:19 – results
2002 Terry Purcell (AUS) 10:00  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:39 – results
2003 Terry Purcell (AUS) 9:47  Cindy Moll (Harris) (USA) 11:45 – results
2004 Terry Purcell (AUS) 9:49  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:10 – results
2005 Terry Purcell (AUS) 9:45  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:33 – results
2006 Terry Purcell (AUS) 9:39  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:10 – results
2007 Terry Purcell (AUS) 9:30  Kathryn Froehlich (USA) 11:50 – results
2008 Christopher Schmidt (USA) 9:38  Cindy Harris (USA) 10:52* – results
2009 Terry Purcell (USA) 9:32  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:17 – results
2010 Terry Purcell (USA) 9:32  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:17 – results
2011 Terry Purcell (USA) 10:04  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:21 – results
2012 Justin Stewart (USA) 9:45  Kristin Frey (USA) 10:57 – results
2013 Sproule Love (USA) 9:24*  Kristin Frey (USA) 11:56 – results
2014 Eric Leninger (USA) 9:42  Cindy Harris (USA) 12:03 – results
2015 Eric Leninger (USA) 9:51  Cindy Harris (USA) 11:41 – results
2016 Eric Leninger (USA) 9:57  Liz Ruvalcaba (USA) 11:30 – results
2017 Andrew Drobeck (USA) 10:19  Sherri Breese (USA) 12:54 – results
2018 Terry Purcell (AUS) 10:07  Tricia Hess (USA) 12:07 – results
2019 Chris Hoffman (USA) 10:37  Tricia Hess (USA) 12:09 – results

* course record

f15f7b57ab31c217f471c6712a2654e0-taipei-101

2005  Paul Crake (AUS) 10.29*  Andrea Mayr (AUT) 12.38*
2006  Paul Crake (AUS) 10.31  Andrea Mayr (AUT) 13.28
2007  Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 11.39  Andrea Mayr (AUT) 12.54
2008  Thomas Dold (GER) 10.53  Jenny Hsiao-yu Li (TWN) 14.53
2009  Thomas Dold (GER) 11.05  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 14.20
2010  Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 11.09  Melissa Moon (NZL) 14.16
2011  Thomas Dold (GER) 11.19  Valentina Belotti (ITA) 13.51
2012  Mark Bourne (AUS) 11.26  Valentina Belotti (ITA) 13.21
2013  Mark Bourne (AUS) 10.52  Valentina Belotti (ITA) 12.54
2014  Mark Bourne (AUS) 10.54  Valentina Belotti (ITA) 13.22
2015  Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 11.08  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13.16
2016  Frank Carreño (COL) 11.47  Alice McNamara (AUS) 14.23
2017  Mark Bourne (AUS) 11.24  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13.36
2018 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 11:11 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13:01
2019 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 10:46 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13:12

* course record

Find out all the winners from other events around the world in our historical tower running results database.

Eureka Tower stair climb 2019

2008 Stuart Gibson (AUS) 9:10  women’s winner ??
2009 Stuart Gibson (AUS) 8:56  Judith Arndt (AUS) 10:37 – results
2010 Scott McTaggart (AUS) 8:30 Alice McNamara (AUS) 10:29 – results**
2011 Mark Bourne (AUS) 8:22  Alice McNamara (AUS) 9:33* – results
2012 Mark Bourne (AUS) 7:59  Alice McNamara (AUS) 9:51 – results
2013 Mark Bourne (AUS) 7:34*  Brooke Logan (AUS) 10:28 – results
2014 Mark Bourne (AUS) 7:49  Alice McNamara (AUS) 10:04 – results
2015 Mark Bourne (AUS) 7:55  Alice McNamara (AUS) 9:39 – results
2016 Mark Bourne (AUS) 8:13  Alice McNamara (AUS) 9:59 – results
2017 Mark Bourne (AUS) 8:10  Alice McNamara (AUS) 10:15 – results
2018 Matt Curtin (AUS) 9:15 Meg Reeves (AUS) 10:24 – results
2019 Mark Bourne (AUS) 7:45  Brooke Logan (AUS) 10:41 – results

* course record
** Alice McNamara unlisted in individual results, but she ran fastest time as part of the Teams event, so was overall winner. Conflicting reports on her time 10:24 or 10:29?

EmpireStateBuildingAdmission

1978 Gary Muhrke (USA) 12:32 Marcy Schwam (USA) 16:04
1979 Jim Rafferty (USA) 12:19  Nina Kuscsik (USA) 15:03
1980 Jim Ochse (USA) 12:20  Nina Kuscsik (USA) 14:39 (ESBRU history 1978-1980)
1981 Peter Squires (USA) 10:59  Nina Kuscsik (USA) 14:44
1982 Jim Ochse (USA) 11:41  Mary Beth Evans (USA) 13:34
1983 Al Waquie (USA) 11:36  Burke Koncelik (USA) 13:40 (ESBRU history 1981-1983)
1984 Al Waquie (USA) 11:29  Isabelle Carmichael (USA) 13:32
1985 Al Waquie (USA) 11:42  Janine Aiello (USA) 13:14
1986 Al Waquie (USA) 11:26.13  Janine Aiello (USA) 13:18.32
1987 Al Waquie (USA) 11:56  Janet Wendle (USA) 15:12 (ESBRU history 1984-1987)
1988 Craig Logan (AUS) 11:29  Janine Aiello (USA) 13:42
1989 Robin Rishworth (AUS) 11:08  Suzanne Malaxos (AUS) 12:24
1990 Scott Elliot (USA) 10:47  Suzanne Malaxos (AUS) 12:27 (ESBRU history 1988-1990)
1991** Geoff Case (AUS) 10:13  Corliss Spencer (USA) 11:32
1992** Geoff Case (AUS) 09:33  J’ne Day-Lucore (USA) 12:00
1993 Geoff Case (AUS) 10:18  Sue Case (AUS) 12:42 (ESBRU history 1991-1993) – indoor finish, exact number of floors TBD but likely 86.
1994** Darrin Eisman 9:37  Belinda Soszyn (AUS) 11:36
1995 Kurt König (GER) 10:39  Michelle Blessing (USA) 13:03
1996 Kurt König (GER) 10:44  Belinda Soszyn (AUS) 12:19
1997 Kurt König (GER) 10:22  Belinda Soszyn (AUS) 12:32 (ESBRU history 1994-1997)
1998 Terry Purcell (AUS) 10:49 Cindy Moll (USA) 14:17 – race report
1999 Paul Crake (AUS) 10:15  Angela Sheean (AUS) 13:23 – race report
2000 Paul Crake (AUS) 9:53  Cindy Moll (USA) 12:51 – race report
2001 Paul Crake (AUS) 9:37  Cindy Moll (USA) 12:45 – race report
2002 Paul Crake (AUS) 9:40  Kerstin Harbich (GER) 12:46 – race report
2003 Paul Crake (AUS) 9:33*  Cindy Moll (USA) 13:06 – race report
2004 Rudolf Reitberger (AUT) 10:37  Andrea Mayr (AUT) 12:08 – race report
2005 Rudolf Reitberger (AUT) 10:24  Andrea Mayr (AUT) 11:51 – race report
2006 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:19  Andrea Mayr (AUT) 11:23* – race report
2007 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:25  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13:12 – race report
2008 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:08  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:44 – race report
2009 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:07  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13:27 – results
2010 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:16 Melissa Moon (NZL) 13:13 – results
2011 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:10 Alice McNamara (AUS) 13:03 – results
2012 Thomas Dold (GER) 10:28 Melissa Moon (NZL) 12:39 – results
2013 Mark Bourne (AUS) 10:12 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:05 – results
2014 Thorbjorn Ludvigsen (NOR) 10:06 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 11:57 – indoor finish on 86th floor, so slightly shorter course – results
2015 Christian Riedl (GER) 10:16 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:30 – results
2016 Darren Wilson (AUS) 10:36 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:19 – results
2017 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 10:31 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:11 – results
2018 Frank Carreno (COL) 10:50 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:56 – results
2019 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 10:05 Suzy Walsham (AUS) 12:18 – results

* course record
** course shortened to 80 floors, instead of traditional 86, due to construction

Find out all the winners from other events around the world in our historical tower running results database.

Swissotel Vertical Marathon 1 winners

1987 Kenneth Keng (SIN) 7:20  Helen Gilbey (AUS) 9:04
1988 Kenneth Keng (SIN) 7:35  Helen Gilbey (AUS) 8:46
1989 Balvinder Singh (SIN) 6:55
1990 Law Kah Yew (SIN) Helen Gilbey (AUS)
1991 – 1998 Results yet to be found
1999 Adrian Mok (SIN)
2000 ?
2001 ?
2002 ?
2003 Pedro Ribeiro (POR)
2004 Ben Pulham 7:35  Esther Tan
2005 Pedro Ribeiro (POR) 7:18  Kristy Rice (USA) 10:13
2006 Pedro Ribeiro (POR)  Suzy Walsham (AUS)
2007 Mwai Zakayo Nderi (KEN) 7:03  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:31
2008 Thomas Dold (GER) 6:52  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:19
2009 Thomas Dold (GER) 6:46*  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:29
2010 Thomas Dold (GER) 6:51  Melissa Moon (NZL) 8:57
2011 Matthias Jahn (GER) 7:16  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:23
2012 Darren Wilson (AUS) 7:13  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 7:51*
2013 Mark Bourne (AUS) 6:51  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 7:57
2014 Mark Bourne (AUS) 6:46*  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:02
2015 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:48  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 7:46**
2016
2017 **
2018 Ching Chun Lo  Bridget Robertson **

* course record
** indoor finish on 69th floor due to poor weather on 73rd floor helipad