Posts Tagged ‘la verticale de la tour eiffel’

2019 vert winners

Piotr Lobodzinski and Suzy Walsham won La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel for the fifth time in a row last Wednesday (13th March).

Lobodzinski took victory in 7:53.97, the only sub 8-minute time on the night. In the women’s division, Australian Suzy Walsham was a clear winner in 10:16.57.

Harsh conditions in the French capital had an impact all around and finishing times were generally slower than in previous editions of the event, which was in its fifth year.

The expected close competition for Lobdodzinski from Christian Riedl didn’t materialise, as the German finished third in 8:46.98.

Riedl finish

Christian Riedl takes 3rd place at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2019

His time was just bettered by Austrian Jakob Mayer, who finished in 8:44.31.

Jakob Mayer finish

Second-placed finisher Jakob Mayer

Lobodzinski was the last to run. With the heavy winds in Paris affecting most runners adversely throughout the night, the Polish world champion’s time was not expected to be particularly fast, even though, as the only man to have won La Verticale since it began in 2015, he had never finished slower than 7:56. But despite his rivals nearly all running slower than usual, he maintained his perfect record of sub 8-minute finishes by reaching the top of the 1,665 steps of the Eiffel Tower in 7:53.97.

2019 Verticale mens podium

Christian Riedl, Piotr Lobodzinski, Jakob Mayer (l-r)

Unstoppable Walsham wins again

Suzy Walsham proved once again she is a practically invincible force on the stairs with an incredible fifth straight win at the Eiffel Tower.

With China’s Muhua Jian unable to make it to the start line, Walsham’s expected strongest competition was missing, but with the harsh weather and the Australian star’s preparation seriously hampered by injury, there was still the chance that Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik might push Walsham hard.

As it happened it was Walsham’s fellow Australian, Alice McNamara, who came closest. She finished second in 11:26.36.

McNamara finish

Alice McNamara reaches the top in the second fastest time

Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik took third for the second year in a row, with a finishing time of 11:28.74.

wisniewska-ulfik finish

Poland’s Wisniewska-Ulfik finished third for the second year in a row

 

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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.

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)

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

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

ulfik

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

alice Mc

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

anais leroy

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

cnops

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

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 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.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel is one of the most prestigious stair running events in the world and in 2019 it returns for its fifth 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 2019?

The fifth edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel will take place on Wednesday 13th March 2019 at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

The event will start at 8pm (local time) with amateur runners setting off first at around 8.15pm. The first athletes in the elite wave will likely set off around 9pm.

VTE2019-3

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.

80 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.

Pre-registration closes at 11.59pm on 11 December 2018.

The lottery to select the 80 amateur participants will take place on 19th December 2018.

What is the Eiffel Tower stair race?
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Four-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 another event was held again in 1906.

But stair climbing didn’t return to the tower again until 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 earliest editions that covered around 730 steps to just the second platform.

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

Sign up now to be in with a chance of joining them.

You might also be interested in finding out when the Empire State Building Run Up 2019 is taking place.

eiffel tower 1905 picture 4

The effort you need to ascend you can not find in any other sport. It is purely athletic, because it demands from the champion as much strength as speed and as much agility as enduranceLe Journal

The fifth edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel takes place next week on Wednesday 13th of March. Among the racers taking part this year will be the reigning world champions, Piotr Lobodzinski and Suzy Walsham, who’ll be aiming to make it five wins in a row in Paris.

With its narrow field of participants – only 130 this year – and, of course, its iconic venue, entrance to La Verticale is one of the most sought after in the tower running calendar.

Tracing its origins back as far as 1905, the Eiffel Tower stair climb is probably the world’s oldest tower run. Though the first organised stair climb goes back a couple of years before that, when an outdoor stair race was held at Rue Foyatier in Paris 1903. You can read about that event here.

Combining reports from multiple newspapers and magazines from 1905, we have put together an account of that first race at the Eiffel Tower.

Le Championnat de L’Escalier 1905

Organised by a magazine called Les Sports, the race took place on Sunday 26th November 1905. It was a cold day with very heavy rains and strong winds. Yet despite the bad weather, large crowds gathered at the foot of the Tower, and on the platforms on the way up, to witness this ‘unique spectacle’. This comes as no surprise. At the time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world, with the longest staircase. Those in attendance were witnessing history.

Newspaper Le Journal said ‘Les Sports had the unique idea to have athletes from all sports battle it out on a new ground…the stairs.’ The magazine’s aim was to pit champions and elite athletes from various sporting traditions against each other in the ultimate test of fitness. Runners, cyclists and footballers were all among those who took part in the event.

Of the 300 entrants who were due to attend, 283 made it to the start line. Those who took part did so in ‘racing outfits and espadrille shoes’.

The race involved running up 729 steps to the second platform (of three) at the Eiffel Tower. The reason they didn’t run to the top is the organisers felt the stairs on the upper levels were too narrow, and that it could have proved dangerous once the stairwell got crowded.

One newspaper report states that ‘competitors at this challenge were not allowed to pull on the railing’. There are some pictures that show competitors holding the railing, but we believe they were promotional shots taken before the event itself. None of the in-race images show runners holding on to the railing, although in one of the pictures below a runner looks dangerously close to reaching out and grabbing it. If, indeed, they didn’t touch the railing at all – and if the post-race report felt it worth mentioning, we may assume they didn’t – then the times they clocked in 1905 become all the more impressive. Ultimately it remains unknown.

The day was split into two sections; in the morning (9am-12pm) ‘veterans and novices’ took on the climb, and in the afternoon (2pm) ‘professional and amateur champions from different athletic groups’.

eiffel tower 1905 picture 3

The start from the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The runners were timed by Salomon, official timer of the A.C.F.

La Vie au Grand Air (a sports journal from the time) explains how the organisers handled the issue of timing:

The organisers had a great idea to avoid problems of classing. The runners had attached on their back a small bit of cloth on which was written a letter followed by a number – the minute of the start of their race. The runners went every minute, timed by MM Salomon & Richard. The timer at the second platform only had to calculate the difference between the start time marked on the back of the climber and the time of arrival.

Some racers really struggled on the day. This excerpt from one report will sound familiar to those who have set off a bit too fast at the start of a stair race:

Those who reach their fifth landing can conclude that it is relatively easy and with a bit of courage you could reach the top. Alas! They were disillusioned by the reality at hand – the leaders set aside, you could see the fast runners compared to the exhausted lads before even the first platform, who dragged themselves to the top painfully with sighs and desperate hiccups.

The exertion proved far too much for some runners. Apparently two or three passed out at the top and had to be resuscitated with CPR.

Aside from the stair climbers taking on the challenge as a test of their fitness, there were also ‘some eccentrics’ there on the day who ‘amused the public with unique variations: One man climbed it in 9mins 59secs while carrying a 50kg bag of cement on his back, another climbed it backwards, and a third, a waiter, did the ascent holding a tray with six full glasses.’

At the business end of things, the morning waves were highly competitive, with times from the amateurs rivaling those in the elite category later in the day.

The veterans and novices category was won by Luiz in a time of 3.19, he was followed by Pieli in 3.23, with the veteran A. Thiebaud reaching the second platform in 3.29. As seems customary of the time, competitors were largely mentioned by last name only.

eiffel tower 1905 picture 2

‘The arrival at the second floor for one of the runners’

Controversy at the elite race

The main event of the day was widely anticipated. Leading Parisian papers had write ups on the day of the event talking about the upcoming race. One even featured it on the front page.

According to Le Journal, ‘The champions of all sports fully understood the challenge and began training in a different way for this championship’.

Heading into the race, an amateur cyclist named Forestier was the favourite. He had won the Paris-Dieppe cycling race in 1903. Having done some research, he may well be Eugene Forestier, who later became a professional cyclist and came 15th in the 1908 Tour de France, competing for the Peugeot-Wolber team.

forestier the favourite 1905

Forestier

The fastest time on the day was set by Menu who finished in 3.03. But for some untold reason he was later disqualified.
The earliest report on the race came from the newspaper Le Siecle who listed the top four finishers and their times, but added, ‘We give these results with much reservation as a claim of fraud was placed against the winner.’ Obviously doubts had been raised about Menu soon after the race finished, but no where does it say exactly why he fell under suspicion.

Another report said ‘Menu did a baffling performance: 3mins 3 sec, but was disqualified…the difference in time between the first and the second – 16 seconds – had caused doubts from the start.’

The 16 second gap refers to the difference between Menu and Luiz (winner of the novices category). Presumably, Forestier hadn’t even set off before speculation arose over the speed of Menu’s time. Perhaps he was disqualified for pulling on the railing? It’s hard to think how else he may have ‘cheated’. It will remain a mystery.

With Menu disqualified victory went to the pre-race favourite, Forestier, who finished in a time of 3.12. He was followed by Lepage in 3.16 with Louis Prevost finishing third in 3.17.

eiffel tower 1905

‘The start of the first floor’

The morning papers and weekly magazines were full of praise for the performance of the athletes. One even calculated how quickly Forestier would have climbed Mont Blanc by stairs had he maintained the same pace – 2 hours and 15 minutes, apparently.

One paper asked, ‘Is this to say that ‘on the stairs’ cyclists are better than regular runners? This is possible. What is certain is that the ones who came first were especially trained at this sport.’

La Verticale 1905

Illustration of the event by Achille Beltrame featured in La Domenica del Corriere, 1905

Le Petit Journal concluded, ‘The event was remarkably organised… It allowed us to see the endurance and agility of all the sportsmen – cyclists, footballers, runners, walkers – that took part in this unique competition.’

We finish with the best quote from all the coverage:

After all, why would it be stranger to race up the stairs than to run on the road or on a track?

Why, indeed.

 

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A guide to La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2019: Elite women