Italian mountain running legend Valentina Belotti will attempt to add a tower running world championship title to her long list of achievements when she races at Taipei 101 on Saturday.

The in-form Belotti returns to the venue where she won from 2011-2014, with the hopes of mounting a challenge against race favourite Suzy Walsham.

A four-time medallist at the World Mountain Running Championships (one gold and three silver), Belotti’s participation in tower running events has been sporadic in the last four years.

But she returned to winning ways this past weekend, taking victory at the second edition of the 535 in Condotta event in Moio de’ Calvi, Italy.

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Belotti on her way to victory at 535 in Condotta (photo by Demis Milesi)

 

The course is very similar to that at the popular Valtellina Tube event and consists of a continuous staircase, 1.25km long, 2,527 steps straight up, with a 535m height gain.

Belotti finished the race in 20.53, ahead of Nives Carobbio (22.30) and Cecilia Pedroni (22.44).

The course at Moio de’ Calvi has very deep steps and an almost 80% incline at its maximum point, plus a 75% incline for the final 400m. That’s perfect preparation for the notoriously tall steps at Taipei 101.

Belotti is one of only two women to have run Taipei 101 in under 13 minutes. She set her fastest time of 12.54 back in 2013, although she hasn’t competed at the venue since she won in 2014.

But despite her absence from the competitive tower running scene in recent seasons, this performance on a particularly demanding course, plus her extensive experience in Taipei, puts her firmly in the mix for any discussion about who might come out on top at Saturday’s World Championship.

Even with reigning world champion Andrea Mayr out of the championship through injury, it will definitely not be plain sailing for Suzy Walsham. The Australian world number one will have to be at her very best to hold off strong challenges from Belotti, the Czech Republic’s Zuzana Krchova and American Cindy Harris.

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The tower running World Championship 2018 is almost here. On Saturday 5th May, the world’s best tower runners will do battle on the stairs of Taipei 101 to decide who will be crowned world champion.

We take a look at the venue, the course records, previous winners and the World Championship race format to keep you in the know ahead of Saturday’s big event.

The venue

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Formerly the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101 stands just over 509m tall. With the completion of the Burj Khalifa in 2010 it was knocked to second tallest building in the world, and in the years since then it has been eclipsed by eight other super towers. It’s worth having a read of the Wikipedia entry for Taipei 101, as it’s a very interesting building from an architectural and engineering standpoint and has also been internationally recognised for its ‘green’ credentials and sustainability efforts over the years. It’s a really prestigious venue for the World Championship.

The race stairwell is right-turning and has 2,046 steps, spread over 91 floors (of the building’s eponymous 101). The bulk of the steps at the building are notoriously tall. Somewhat uniquely, the landings include two additional steps between flights; so you reach the top of one flight, pivot 90°, take a step up, pivot again 90° and go up the next flight. That unfamiliar step layout is sure to throw a few racers out of their rhythm on race day and previous race experience in the tower will likely be a factor in the final standings.

Australia’s Alice McNamara won the Taipei 101 Run Up in 2016 and spoke about her experience there:

‘Taipei 101 has the challenge of a very steep, continuous staircase…there are no landings, just a 10-2-7-2 stair configuration all the way up. It is almost like climbing a steep spiral staircase on the 2 stair “landings” so it was very important to use the handrail on my right hand side to partially pull myself up.’

American stair climb legend, Kristin Renshaw (nee Frey), detailed her experience of the race in 2012 where she finished third, and the stairs sound pretty imposing when you read her description:

‘When I hit the monster steps, I knew it! They were exponentially larger than the ones we started climbing [on the lower floors of Taipei 101]; these steps were taller than any I’d ever encountered. I thought the steps in my training building were of decent size, especially the last two floors where they get taller and steeper, and Sears is known for having some giant steps, but those paled in comparison to the steps in the 101 tower.’

Course records

Taipei 101 got straight onto stair climb events when it opened, hosting its first race on Sunday 20th November 2005, less than a year after officially opening to the public.

The current men’s and women’s course records were set that day in 2005 and no one has come particularly close to beating them in the intervening years.

Former competitive cyclist Paul Crake (AUS) set the men’s record of 10.29. There’s an excellent interview with him on YouTube, which we highly recommend, where he talks about his life before and after the accident that left him paralysed.

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Australian Paul Crake setting the course record in 2005 at the inaugural Taipei 101 Run Up

It’s important to put Crake’s record time at Taipei 101 into context for those perhaps unfamiliar with his tower running accomplishments. In 2015 world number one Piotr Lobodzinski won at Taipei in 11.08 and in 2016, current world number two, Frank Carreno won the race in 11.47.

Australia’s Mark Bourne (current world number five and last year’s winner) has come closest to Crake, taking victory in 2013 in a time of 10.52 and in 2014 in 10.54. Former world number one, and seven time ESBRU winner, Thomas Dold (GER) managed to finish in 10.58 at the 2008 event, while Piotr Lobodzinski also managed a sub-11 time of 10.58 in 2014, when finishing second behind Bourne.

Impressive as they are, those sub-11 times are still quite some way off the incredible record set by Crake.

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Course record holder Paul Crake (left) received a lifetime achievement award at the Taipei 101 Run Up 2017

Reigning world champion Andrea Mayr, who sadly is out of this year’s event, set the women’s record of 12.38. In a similar way to Crake, Mayr’s time has remained largely unrivalled since 2005, and she is one of only two women to have gone under 13 minutes in the event’s history.

Mayr also clocked 12.54 in 2007, while Italian Valentina Belotti managed 12.54 on her way to winning in 2013.

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Andrea Mayr sets the women’s course record of 12.38 in 2005.

Taipei 101 Run Up winners: 2005-2017
  • 2005  Paul Crake (AUS) 10.29 and Andrea Mayr (AUT) 12.38
  • 2006 – Paul Crake (AUS) 10.31 and Andrea Mayr (AUT) 13.28
  • 2007  Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 11.39 and Andrea Mayr (AUT) 12.54
  • 2008  Thomas Dold (GER) 10.53 and Jenny Hsiao-yu Li (TWN) 14.53
  • 2009 – Thomas Dold (GER) 11.05 and Suzy Walsham (AUS) 14.20
  • 2010 – Marco De Gasperi (ITA) 11.09 and Melissa Moon (NZL) 14.16
  • 2011 – Thomas Dold (GER) 11.19 and Valentina Belotti (ITA) 13.51
  • 2012 – Mark Bourne (AUS) 11.26 and Valentina Belotti (ITA) 13.21
  • 2013 – Mark Bourne (AUS) 10.52 and Valentina Belotti (ITA) 12.54
  • 2014 – Mark Bourne (AUS) 10.54 and Valentina Belotti (ITA) 13.22
  • 2015 – Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 11.08 and Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13.16
  • 2016 – Frank Carreño (COL) 11.47 and Alice McNamara (AUS) 14.23
  • 2017 – Mark Bourne (AUS) 11.24 and Suzy Walsham (AUS) 13.36
Race format

The World Championship event will be played out over two races, with the climber scoring the most points from the two races combined becoming the 2018 world champion.

The first heat will be a shorter race up to the 35th floor (824 steps). That will start at 7.30am local time (12.30am UK time), with runners being set off every 30 seconds. All TWA registered stair climbers in attendance will take part. Points will be assigned to the top 50 finishers in the male and female categories.

The final will start at 8.30am local time, and will be a full run up 2,046 steps to the the top of the tower. Again, runners will be set off at 30-second intervals and points will be assigned to the top 50 finishers in the male and female categories.

This new race format is a marked shift from the 2015 World Championship. At that event in Doha, Qatar the final was limited to the top 30 finishers in the male and female divisions in the first heat, which unlike this event was open to all. What’s more, finishing positions in the second heat that year determined start positions on an F1-style grid format in the final the following day.

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Piotr Lobodzinski takes off from pole position on the grid at the 2015 tower running World Championship in Doha, Qatar

The grid was set 150m back from the tower entrance and athletes had to run in to the stairwell. This allowed for a few position changes before the athletes even hit the stairs, which didn’t sit well with some.

Obviously, logistics mean that the event at Taipei 101 needs to be done and dusted on the Saturday, but the very limited recovery period (90 minutes) between the first round and final seems unduly harsh on the competitors. The short recovery period is certainly going to unstick some of them, and make their second climb unpleasant. It would be fairer to have the final at the very end of the day’s events, after all the non-elite and corporate teams have finished.

The removal of a pre-run into the tower is welcomed, though. As purists, we think all races should start as close to the stairs as possible.

We won’t get into a full discussion of what we consider all the pros and cons of the differing race formats, but we do think there should be a move towards uniformity at future championships, where possible. But of course the World Championship is very much in its infancy and some experimentation with the format is to be expected at this stage.

The World Championship was initially scheduled for 2017 in China, with the plan for the tower running World Championship to follow the biennial pattern of its track and field cousin. Last year’s very late cancellation was a bitter disappointment for fans, but the Taipei 101 race is sure to be an excellent one and we are super hyped for this exciting event.

Will Showtime Lobodzinski retain his world title or can Mark Bourne take victory for a record fifth time at Taipei 101? With reigning world champion Andrea Mayr out of the event, is there anyone left to pose a significant challenge to the almost invincible Suzy Walsham?

Keep an eye out later this week for our guide to the top athletes taking part in the 2018 tower running World Championship.

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The 2015 world tower running champion Andrea Mayr has been forced to withdraw from this weekend’s World Championship event at Tapei 101 due to injury.

The Austrian sustained an ankle injury back in February, and has now confirmed her withdrawal from the biggest event of the season.

The Olympic marathoner has been largely absent from the tower running circuit since she took victory at the inaugural World Championship in 2015, but was primed to return to defend her title at Taipei 101 on 5 May.

Mayr, who set the Taipei 101 course record of 12.38 back in 2005, was hotly anticipated to provide current world number one Suzy Walsham with her toughest challenge.

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Andrea Mayr winning the inaugural tower running World Championship in 2015

Of the remaining women set to line out in Taiwan, only Czech athlete Zuzana Krchova has recently beaten Walsham. Krchova took victory over her at the Towerrunning Tour 2017 Final in January, which was at the 1,210-step Beichen Plaza in Changsha, China. She also won the Rondo 1 event in Poland, back in March, among a highly-competitive field of European athletes.

Krchova is obviously an accomplished and formidable tower runner, but how she will fair at the considerably taller 2,046-step Taipei 101 is to be seen.

The highly-experienced Walsham has raced and won at the tower multiple times and, with obvious disappointment at Mayr’s injury aside, will surely now be brimming with confidence. The absence of Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi, another of the few women to have ever beaten Walsham, will be a further boost to the race favourite.

The second tower running World Championship will take place at Taipei 101 on Saturday 5 May 2018. Keep an eye out next week for our in-depth guide to the event.

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April’s a relatively quiet month for UK tower running, with just the Care International event at the Leadenhall Building in London taking place on Saturday 14th.

But globally there have been lots of races so far this month, with events in Estonia, Italy and the USA among others, showcasing the truly international face of competitive stair running.

Read on for our pick of the stair climbing results from around the world this April, and find out the latest nicknames on the circuit.

April 1st – Estonian Towerrunning Championships 2018, TV Tower, Tallinn

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Rauno ‘Ebajalg’ Tiits secured victory at the inaugural Estonian Tower Running Championship with a blistering run to the top of the 870-step TV Tower in the Estonian capital.

His winning time of 4.35 was also a new course record. Fans of UK tower running will be familiar with the name Tiits, as the Estonian took the win at last November’s double-run event at London’s Broadgate Tower ahead of some of the top UK stair climbers.

In second place was Poland’s Arkadiusz ‘Street Fighter’ Karbowy, another familiar name to those who follow UK stair climbing. His lightning quick time of 4.46 (the only other sub-five minute finish on the day) will come as no surprise to those who’ve seen him flying up the Tower Wing of Guy’s Hospital during training.

Rimo ‘Special Sauce’ Tiim finished third in 5.04.

In the women’s division it was a more one-sided affair with Estonian sporting star Kaisa ‘The Gift’ Kukk winning in an unrivalled 5.46.

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The newly crowned Estonian tower running champions, Rauno Tiits and Kaisa Kukk.

Kukk is no stranger to sporting success. A sub-three hour marathoner, she has multiple wins in a wide range of race distances under her belt and so her transition to tower running success was no doubt expected among the Estonian athletic community.

It’s her second win of the season already, and we expect big things from Kukk if she makes stair climbing her focus. On a separate note, she’s also our tower running WCW this week. Fire!

Her nearest challenge came from Poland’s Ilona ‘Leg Breaker’ Gradus, winner of the Marriott Everest Run in Warsaw back in February, and a top ten finisher at other Polish events already this year. She hit the top step in 6.39, some way back from Kukk.

Liina ‘The DJ’ Volmerson, winner of the Saucony Trekking Championship stair race series in 2017 (alongside Rauno Tiits), finished third in 7.03.

The experience and pedigree of Kukk’s rivals makes her overwhelming winning margin all the more impressive.

Full results here.

 

April 7th – Fight for Air Climb Newark 2018, One Gateway Center, New Jersey

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“The Beast from the East” Stephen Marsalese made light work of it at the ALA Fight for Air Climb in Newark.

The stair climbing veteran, and perennial podium finisher around the East Coast events, was the only person to go under the coveted three-minute mark as he scaled the 504 steps of One Gateway Center in 2.48.

His Tower Masters team mate, 63-year old Mark ‘The Immortal Whisper’ Greenlee, was behind him in 3.18, improving on his fifth place finish from last year. Last year’s fourth placed finisher, Ted ‘Uber Jock’ Enoch, took third this time around in a time of 3.32.56

Special mention to the speedy 13 year old who finished in fourth place in 3.32.81 – missing out on a podium spot by the very narrowest of margins. He’s so exquisitely named he needs no adornments from us. Fly Talon Falcone, fly!!

‘Champagne’ Sally Kalksma made it a double win for the Tower Masters team as she returned to winning ways following her international adventures last month at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris.

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Sally Kalksma at the start line of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2018

Kalksma clocked 4.39 to secure the win from Mary ‘Warlord’ Cataudella (5:02) and Nina ‘The Mason’ Mikkilineni (5.06). Full results available here.

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Kalksma and Marsalese celebrate their wins (bottom) and pose with fellow Tower Master runners.

April 7th – Ginormous Climb 2018 – 200 Clarendon (John Hancock Tower), Boston

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Ginormous is an underrated and underused word, but we’re glad to see the organisers of this event, at Boston’s John Hancock Tower, have kept it front and centre for five years now.

Historically this race has attracted some big tower running names, such as Tim Donahue, but they were absent this time around.

Still, close to 400 racers turned up to climb the 1,220 stairs (61 floors) and they produced solid battles for top spot in the men’s and women’s divisions.

When the dust had settled it was Kai ‘The All Seeing Eye’ Van Horn who stood victorious with a winning time of 8.18.

11 seconds back was Samuel ‘All that glitters is not’ Goldman, while Brendan ‘The Allston Accelerator’ Harrison took third in 8.37.

The women’s division was far closer, with just ten seconds separating the top three. Elizabeth ‘Easy Work’ Burke won in a time of 10.58, with Jennifer ‘Little Bitty’ Previti right behind in 10.59. Maegan ‘Smooth Mover’ Hoover completed the trio with her 11.08 finish.

Full results here.

April 7th – Valtellina Vertical Tube Race 2018, Italy

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We love this event. It’s the one event we make sure to scour the results of every year, and we have since it began back in 2015. The reason is because it gives a perfect opportunity to see how top tower runners match up against some of the world’s best mountain runners and vertical km specialists, in what is a bit of a hybrid event.

The course is a kilometer long outdoor staircase (2,700 steps) that runs straight up a mountain, alongside a hydroelectric tube that lends the event its name. So it’s technically a stair race, but so different from what tower runners are used to – no turns or railings, and outdoors – that whatever technical/strategic advantages they might have had are removed and it comes down to a straight battle of strength and endurance.

It’s one of the only races – bar arguably La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, which also includes high-level mountain runners – that you can get an idea of how the world’s elite stair climbers match up with elites from other disciplines when pitted head-to-head. For context, reigning world tower running champion Piotr Lobodzinski finished in fifth place in 2016 with a time of 14.55.

It also has a place in our heart as it’s the one international event where a British athlete has the course record. Emmie Collinge set the staggering women’s course record of 16.10 in 2016. She is the only woman to have ever run the course in under 17 minutes, managing it at the event’s first edition in 2015, too, when she finished in 16.25.

We caught up with Collinge after that debut win in 2015, and commented then that she could be the new force on the global tower running scene if she wanted to be. But alas her participation in stair races has been limited to those two stunning runs at Valtellina.

Anyway, on to the action from this year’s edition.

In the men’s event the field was understandably made up of mainly Italian competitors. But there was a decent spread of well-known tower runners and elite mountain runners from other countries in attendance, too, which included ‘Fearless’ Frank Carreno, Tomas ‘The Zilina Avalanche’ Celko and Jacob Mayer. Unfortunately there wasn’t a single British male representative at the event.

Last year’s winner, Italian Hannes Perkmann, secured victory once more with a time of 14.10, a five second improvement on his winning time in 2017. It was also the second-fastest time ever, just eight seconds off the course record of 14.02 set by Bernard Dematteis.

Perkmann is part of the Italian mountain running team and specialises in longer distance events.

Fellow Italian Alberto Vender made a massive leap from his ninth-place last year to take second place in a time of 14.44. He chopped a whopping 38 seconds off his PB in the process.

Emanuele ‘Il Guerriero’ Manzi – one of the event organisers, mountain runner and top-level tower runner – made it an all-Italian podium. He made it his third podium finish at the event (he finished sixth in 2017), finishing in his fastest ever time of 14.46.

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Hannes Perkmann on his way to victory in Valtellina

The women’s race was the closest in the event’s short history. In the end it was Catalan youngster Gisela Carrion Bertran who took the spoils in 17.25, the fourth fastest time ever by a woman at the event. A well-established mountain runner and vertical km racer, Carrion Bertran possibly came in under the radar of some in attendance, but her athletic pedigree is well established.

Just behind her was 2017 winner Katarzyna Kuzminska from Italy. She managed to take 20 seconds off her winning time from last year, reaching the top of the stairs in 17.28.

Italian sporting legend and Olympic cross-country skiing relay bronze medallist Antonella Confortola took third place in 17.43. Her multi-discipline medal record of world championship and European championship podium finishes in cross-country skiing, mountain running and vertical km is highly impressive. Check it out on Wikipedia.

British interest at the event was limited to Sarah Frost who finished in 26th position in 22.25.

Full results here.

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Gisela Carrion Bertran: winner of Valtellina Vertical Tube Race 2018

 

There were additional races in Bahrain, Canada, China, Estonia and USA this month, but full results are currently unavailable for all of them. We’ll be updating this article shortly.

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If you’ve signed up for a stair race, you may have started thinking about what you’re going to wear on the day.

For the most part, what you wear for a stair climb won’t differ too much from what you would wear for any other running race. Ideally you want to dress as light as possible in some form of technical gear that is breathable. Follow the link to read our brief guide on what to wear for a stair race.

But what about on your feet? The most common question we get about gear is related to the type of shoes best suited to a tower run.

Read on as we take a closer look at this popular question.

What shoes should you wear for a stair climb?

If you’re just starting out with tower running you will be fine wearing any general purpose trainers you have to hand. And until you start making significant improvements in your times because of the training you’re doing, you’ll continue to be fine in any type of running/gym shoes.

But once you reach the point where you’re looking to make small, but potentially significant, gains through gear choice, technique adjustments, strict diet etc, you might consider changing the shoes you stair race in.

There aren’t any shoes designed specifically for tower running. Why would there be, you might be thinking. It’s just running, but up stairs, right?

Well, yes and no. The various factors that influence the design of road running shoes are somewhat insignificant when it comes to stair climbing. This is mostly because of the different biomechanics involved in stair running vs regular running, and partly because of the duration of stair climbing events.

Stair climbing doesn’t generate anywhere near the forces and impacts involved in road running. It’s a very low impact activity and so decisions about the amount of cushioning you need are far less important.

For the same reason, most people can throw out their worries about over pronation when they enter the stairwell (we would suggest most people could throw it out anyway regardless of where they’re running, but that’s for another time and place).

So, while you may not feel comfortable picking out a pair of very lightweight racing flats for your upcoming 5k, 10k, half- or full marathon, you could easily get away with wearing them in the stairwell and probably take a bit of time off your finish as a result, too.

Even if stair running did generate similar forces as road running, the events (at least in the UK) are relatively short enough in duration (think 4-6mins and 5-7 mins for the faster men and women, respectively) that you could get away with a really stripped back shoe anyway. The race would likely be over before the negatives of wearing a very light shoe outweighed the positives.

So what shoes should you go for?

A famous study conducted by Nike in the 1980s showed that adding 100g to a running shoe increased the aerobic demand of running by 1%. It makes sense of course. Less weight equals less energy expended moving those shoes and faster times.

But there’s a drop off point, especially when the weight of a shoe is reduced by having less cushioning in the midsole. At a certain point the muscles will begin absorbing the landing shock the cushioning is designed to and that will lead to faster fatigue and greater energy costs.

Interestingly, the Hoka One One range bucks the trend of cutting weight by reducing the amount of midsole cushioning. Some of their thickly cushioned shoes, such as the Cavu and Mach, are only 231g, which is as light as some ‘minimalist’ shoes.

Running shoe manufacturers work tirelessly to find that cushioning sweet spot, particularly with the shoes pitched at the very fastest band of runners.

Because of the reasons given above, we think you can afford to go as light as possible with a shoe for stair climbing, without having to weigh up the same factors you would when picking a pair for road running. We feel there’s not too much need to consider aspects such as traction, responsiveness or the durability of the outsole if you’re only using them for stair running.

If you want to buy a pair exclusively for stair climbing, we’d recommend getting a pair as lightweight as possible. The less weight you have to carry up the stairs, the more energy you’ll save and the faster you’ll be.

Many people have embraced the minimalist shoe trend that’s popped up over the last decade, and we certainly have made use of zero drop shoes with little or no cushioning on both road and stairs, and that type of shoe would be a good choice. But they’re often actually not even the lightest shoes on the market. Plus, they’re not for everyone and lots of people will want at least some sort of cushioning.

New Balance have previously sold shoes that weighed less than 100g, and you can find options from multiple brands weighing less than 180g.

What are the best shoes for running and stair climbing?

But what if you’re not so into tower running that you want to buy a pair of shoes exclusively for it, and you’re looking for a dual-purpose shoe that will serve you well on the stairs and in road races?

Well, you can buy very lightweight shoes with 6mm-10mm drop and decent midfoot cushioning that will be excellent for stair climbing and will also serve you well in road races – provided you have decent running form and economy.

Some examples of this type of shoe include:

But pretty much any racing flat will do the job of a good dual-purpose option.

With all that in mind, we take a closer look at some of the shoes we’ve used for tower running events to give you a flavour of what we prefer to have on our feet when racing/training in the stairwells and why.

Merrell Trail Glove

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This was the first shoe we wore when we began stair racing.

As a trail shoe, which we primarily used it for at the time, we had mixed feelings about it. But on the stairs it was ideal.

Even though it’s a trail shoe, it lacks the deep, chunky tread usually found on trail shoes (making it a bit rubbish for wet/muddy trail conditions). This means you won’t get that sometimes lumpy underfoot feeling you can get when you wear trail shoes on hard flat ground.

It’s a flexible, minimalist ‘zero drop’ shoe that, as the name suggest, has a snug ‘glove’-like fit. This is something we personally look for when picking a running shoe to stair climb in, especially when a tower has lots of landing turns. But it’s not restrictive. We have a wide forefoot and this shoe fits it well, so if you have narrow feet you may well find the toe box a bit roomy.

While we prefer a spacious toe box for flat level running, we find the snugger fit works well for stair climbs. Especially in shorter runs where you’re running at pace and pushing off hard at each landing turn. Too much lateral foot movement inside the shoe can be annoying.

The Merrell Trail Glove has a reassuring Vibram outsole, which grips really well in dry conditions (such as in a stairwell). Even though the outsole grips really well, we never found any issues with the shoe sticking as we pivoted on landing turns, which is another plus point for this shoe.

At 230g per shoe it’s pretty lightweight, and if you race in them without socks, you’ll feel really light and free in the stairwell.

The latest version of this excellent minimalist running shoe is the Merrell Trail Glove 4, which has some design differences to the original version pictured.

Adidas Adizero Adios Boost 3

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We’re a big fan of many of the shoes in Adidas’ Adizero range. Lightweight, well-designed and with Boost cushioning they make for nice, pacey racing shoes. Although the notoriously narrow fitting brand can be a bit of a squeeze for the wide footers out there, we’ve favoured them for 5k and 10k road races and fast training runs for a while. And we’re in good company.

Dennis Kimetto broke the marathon world record in 2016 in a pair of the Adizero Adios Boost, while world tower running champion and perennial podium-topper Piotr Lobodzinski wears a variety of Adidas shoes in the various events he takes part in.

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At the recent La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris, Lobodzinski (above) appeared to be sporting the Adizero Takumi Sen 3. Weighing just 170g per shoe, these are the second-lightest model you can get in the Adidas Adizero range. The newly launched Sub 2 shoe, designed solely with the two-hour marathon barrier in mind, weighs just 160g.

These super-lightweight running shoes are a great choice for stair climbing. If we were advising on a specific shoe for stair climbing it would be something like one of those two.

For most people, they’re probably only suitable for shorter, flat road races, and even then only if you’re fairly lightweight and have good running form. So they probably aren’t the ideal dual-purpose shoe for most.

We’ve recently ran on road and stairs in the Adizero Adios Boost 3 (pictured above in blue). At 230g they’re still a light shoe, making them a good choice for stair climbing, but they also have enough cushioning to make them comfortable, and more forgiving, for longer runs/races on the road. It’s probably our preferred dual-purpose trainer.

Barefoot

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If you can get away with it, you don’t need to wear shoes at all.

Most event organisers/building managers we’ve encountered have prohibited bare feet in the stairwell on account of health and safety concerns. But we have managed it a couple of times at different events and it’s obviously as lightweight as you can get.

We’d recommend giving it a go, even if just in training. It gives you a greater connection with your surroundings, and the completely stripped-back feeling is a wonderful one. Plus any barefoot training will help strengthen your feet and lower legs, giving you a firm base for your running/stair climbing.

That said, regardless of whether the organisers would allow you to or not, barefoot stair running is not suitable for all races. Outdoor stair climb events, where the steps are sometimes grated, could prove unnecessarily uncomfortable and being barefoot could impair your performance.

We’ve also made use of a couple of Vibram Fivefingers – particularly favouring the KSO Classic, which weighs just 167g. Slipping on a pair of these is a decent alternative to going completely barefoot.

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Susie Drinkwater took the win at Shelter’s Vertical Rush in London, in her debut tower race.

The all-round endurance athlete transitioned seamlessly into stair running, taking victory in a time of 6.11.

She saw off fellow Briton, and tower running rising star, Sarah Frost (6.12), with Italy’s Cristina Bonacina third (6.35).

‘I had absolutely no idea I would win. I was really chuffed with my time, but I hoped for maybe top 10 female in my dreams’, Drinkwater told Tower Running UK.

‘I found the race incredibly hard from the outset. The only thing I can compare it to is a VO2 max test…I felt ill for a good hour afterwards.’

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Warrior’s war paint: victorious Susie Drinkwater at the top of Tower 42, the seventh tallest building in the UK.

Her background in cycling, triathlon and ultra-running obviously gave her a strong base to launch an attack on the leaderboard when she set off in the 10am wave, but she told Tower Running UK she had no idea about pacing or technique.

‘I genuinely had no idea of time or pacing, but had an idea from training I could go near 6.30. I’ve never run up a skyscraper before. I had no idea of technique, I just went for it.’

‘I only trained on a stairclimber – the stair-mill kind – about once a week. I always use it completely hands free and do intervals on it. I started using it at the gym to practice for a hilly ultra last year, and with no real big hills nearby I thought it was a good substitute. But training on it was so much harder than anything I’d done so I kept it up, and when I saw this race it looked like a real challenge, which I love. I will definitely do more.’

She combined this weekly session of stair-mill intervals with yoga, running, cycling and additional strength training, as she prepares for other events this year.

It’s interesting to see what can be achieved without training on actual stairs. We know that the top-level men and women have high-volume training schedules away from the stairs. Piotr Lobodzinski, for example, puts in a massive weekly running mileage alongside his stairwell sessions. But they almost all still work in sessions on the stairs, if only to work on technique.

But Drinkwater’s winning performance suggests you don’t need access to stairs at all to do well in the sport.

Her time and win were all the more impressive given she was caught up in a congested stairwell during her run.

‘I thought I was at the front of my wave when we went out to start for the warm up, but then we turned round and I ended up in the middle, which I took as a lesson for next time because I went out hard but found it really congested for a few floors at about level 15 where I had to walk.’

With plans to race again at some point, Drinkwater is undoubtedly one to keep an eye on for the future. Given this debut showing, she clearly has the potential to challenge some of the top ladies in the world.

Manzi takes overall win at Shelter’s Vertical Rush 2018
Manzi VR

 

In the men’s division it was Italian mountain-runner and elite stair climber Emanuele Manzi who raced to victory in a blistering time of 4.38.

With the bulk of Europe’s top racers in Paris for La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, and Vertical Rush no longer on the Vertical World Circuit tour, there was a dearth of elite level competition in attendance. The race was Manzi’s to lose.

His closest competition was expected to come from the British pair of Mark Sims and Elliot Slaughter, who had gone head-to-head in Leicester the weekend before.

Setting off in the 8am wave, in what was only his third stair race, Slaughter set an impressive benchmark of 5.01. This was a huge 10 second improvement on the time he clocked in his debut race at Vertical Rush 2017.

Manzi and Sims both set off in the 11am wave, and it was the Italian who pushed the pace. He reached the top of the 932 steps in 4.38, slightly slower than the time he ran last year.

Sims, who had actually finished ahead of Manzi at Vertical Rush in 2016, failed to dip under the five-minute mark for the first time since 2012. However, his finishing time of 5.00 was enough to push Slaughter back into third place.

Vertical Rush 2018 results

The full results are available here.

A selection of photos from the day can be viewed on the Shelter Facebook page.

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Elliot Slaughter and Sarah Frost took the overall victories at the LOROS Tower Run at St George’s Tower on Saturday, and smashed the men’s and women’s course records in the process.

It was the third edition of the LOROS Tower Run, and fast times were expected at the 351-step sprint event in Leicester city centre, which welcomed close to 400 runners.

LOROS Tower Run 2018

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In only his second stair race, Kent athlete Slaughter held off a strong challenge from last year’s event winner, and previous record holder, Mark Sims to take the win in a new record time of 1.27.9.

Sims, who was previously undefeated at the venue, finished just behind in a time of 1.32.3. David Harris, coming off the back of two wins last weekend, ran Sims close and finished third in 1:35.6.

In the ladies division it was race favourite Sarah Frost who took victory ahead of strong competition from Sonja Shakespeare and Chiara Cristoni.

Having set a course record last year at the 530-step Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, speedster Frost was hotly fancied to chase down the St George’s Tower record. She succeeded in destroying the previous record of 2.06.93 as she finished in 1.49.

Following her was the in-form Shakespeare in 1.51, who also went well under the previous record, while Chiara Cristoni made it three under the previous record as she finished in 2.06.7.

Full results here.

Attention now turns to Thursday’s Vertical Rush event at London’s Tower 42 where Slaughter and Sims will clash again. They’ll be joined by Italy’s Emanuele Manzi, who will be among those pushing for top spot in the absence of other elite European stair climbers who will be racing at the Eiffel Tower that same evening.

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