Posts Tagged ‘Fabio Ruga’

For over a decade the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge has been one of the most popular stair races in the UK. We take a look back at the first edition of the event in 2010.

Back then, the event (then known as NSPCC Step Change) was part of the newly established Vertical World Circuit (VWC) and attracted a spread of top international athletes.

In the women’s division, New Zealand mountain runner Anna Frost was there alongside Italy’s Daniela Vassalli and Cristina Bonacina.

The trio had been among a stellar field of tower runners that had battled it out in a double run in Milan two weeks before, in the first event of the VWC 2010.

Vassalli (winner of the inaugural Vertical World Circuit in 2009) had won that event in Milan, with Frost taking second.

In this new event in London, two runners were being set off at the same time every 30 seconds. Vassalli and Frost were paired together, so it was set to be a genuine side-by-side battle up the unique-looking tower’s 1,037 steps for top points

In the men’s event, Italians Marco De Gasperi and Fabio Ruga were the pre-race favourites and they too were paired together.

Ruga had already picked up points on the VWC, having finished second behind Thomas Dold in Milan a fortnight before. De Gasperi had yet to race in the series. It was guaranteed to be a close battle.

Other well-known tower runners in attendance included Spain’s Ignacio Cardona and Dario Fracassi from Italy.

Watch the video below (click here if embed not showing) to see Daniela Vassalli warming up (0:18), an interview with Anna Frost (0:30), De Gasperi and Ruga setting off (1:38), Vassalli and Frost starting (1:51), Fabio Ruga finishing (2:50), Vassalli finishing (2:58), Cristina Bonacina finishing (3:21) and Ignacio Cardona on the floor at the finish (4:06).

Fabio Ruga won that day, setting the fantastic course record of 4:07 that still stands. De Gasperi finished just four seconds behind his compatriot in 4:11. Ignacio Cardona was third in 4:18.

In the women’s race it was Daniela Vassalli who took top spot with a 5:42 finish. Anna Frost (who would go on to win Vertical Rush in London just over two weeks later) was just six seconds back in 5:48, while Rachael Orr (GBR) finished third in 6:13.

You might also be interested in:

 

NSPCC Gherkin Challenge winners final

C6fEkU0WcAAP4Vg

Italy has produced a set of fantastic tower runners and Fabio Ruga is one of the very best.

Italian tower runners have been topping podiums around the world for close to 15 years. Bellotti, Bonacina, De Gasperi and Manzi have all won big races against top rivals.

With a background in mountain running, Fabio Ruga made his tower running debut in Milan in 2008.

Over the past 10 years, he’s raced against, and often beat, some of the top tower runners of this generation, including stars such as Thomas Dold and Christian Riedl.

Fabio Ruga

Fabio Ruga finishes one step behind Marco De Gasperi at the Pirelli Tower in 2009

UK tower running fans should be well familiar with the Italian. The course record of 4:07 he set at the Gherkin in 2010 still stands. A year later he won Vertical Rush. Since then he’s been on the podium at Tower 42 a number of times, clocking a brilliant personal best of 4:11 in 2012.

Ruga Gherkin winner 2010

Ruga celebrates at the top of the Gherkin, after setting the course record in 2010

The indomitable Ruga is still winning races. His most recent victories (back in 2019) include the fourth leg of the Vertical World Circuit at Tour First in Paris, where he beat Omar Bekkali and Emanuele Manzi, and the Thyssenkrupp Tower Run in Rottweil, Germany, where he finished ahead of top Germans, Christian Riedl and Görge Heimann.

Fabio Ruga 2019

Fabio Ruga celebrates winning the Thyssenkrupp Tower Run, September 2019

Other notable performances include third-place finishes at the Empire State Building Run-Up and the Allianz Vertical Run in Milan in 2019.

The Italian star caught up with publication La Repubblica to discuss his win in Rottweil, plus how he got into stair running and what his real passion is. Click the link below for the full article.

La Repubblica interview with Fabio Ruga

He also gave another interesting interview to Atletica Pidaggia 15●28, in which he explains why he came back to tower running after some time away.

Atletica Pidaggia 15●28 interview with Fabio Ruga

You may also be interested in: