Posts Tagged ‘Mark Bourne’

Eiffel tower at night

La Verticale de La Tour Eiffel 2020 is set for March and all eyes will be on Paris for the biggest race in the European tower running calendar.

The sixth edition of the event, which takes place on the evening of Wednesday 11th March, has a strong line up of some of the best tower runners in the world. In the men’s division, world champion Piotr Lobodzinski is back to defend his title. Alongside the Polish superstar in Paris will be 24 others looking to do the impossible and unseat the five-time winner.

Read on to find out who’s who in the elite men’s division at the 2020 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

The Eiffel Tower stair race has come a long way from the earliest editions in 1905 and 1906.

forestier the favourite 1905

Eugene Forestier – winner of the 1905 Eiffel Tower stair race

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 25 men have been selected to compete in the elite category at the 2020 edition.

As the only winner, Piotr Lobodzinski is always the pre-race favourite in Paris. But this year, due to scheduled renovations on the tower, the format of the event has changed dramatically. Does the new set up increase the chances of the Pole missing out on top spot for the first time ever?

The 2020 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel race format

Instead of the traditional climb to the top of the 1,665-step tower, the new format looks like this:

  • 1st qualifying round – 131 competitors – 665 steps (to the second level)
  • 2nd qualifying round – 131 competitors – 665 steps
  • Final – 30 competitors (20 men, 10 women) – 665 steps

The final will be held in a pursuit format with the fastest athlete from the qualifying rounds setting off first. That pursuit format means positions on the grid will be all important, so expect to see the runners going all out in both qualifying rounds to secure the best spot.

For more details on the new format for 2020, including rest times between rounds, check out our full news story.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel winners and course record

2019 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:53.97)

2018 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:56.67)

2017 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:54.76)

2016 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:48.77 – course record)

2015 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:50.93)

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

The step count of the altered format makes it quite hard to predict who will be among the top finishers come March. There aren’t many 650 to 700-step towers in the world where the top stair climbers have gone head-to-head.

But here’s our pick of 12 of the top racers to watch out for at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

Piotr Lobodzinski – Poland

Lobodzinski La Vertical Tour Eiffel 2019

The only man to have won La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel since it began back in 2015, Lobodzinski will be going for an incredible sixth win. He has run the Eiffel Tower course in under eight minutes every single time. To put that into perspective, only one other person has managed to do that even once – Christian Riedl in 2016. It’s a remarkable record, and proof that Lobodzinski completely rules this tower.

The Polish athlete won the Vertical World Circuit and Towerrunning Tour in 2019 and finished no lower than second in any race at all last year, winning the overwhelming majority of them. He ran the third fastest time ever at Taipei 101 at the start of May. 10 days later he became the second fastest person to ever run the Empire State Building when he won in 10:05.

He doesn’t tend to race in short buildings anymore, opting for super-tall international towers over smaller European venues. The shortest course he ran in 2019 was the 836-step Rondo 1 in Warsaw back in February, where he finished 14 seconds ahead of second-placed Görge Heimann.

But even though he hasn’t found chance to turn on the turbo boosters over short courses recently, we still know he is super fast.

Will Lobodzinski win a sixth-straight La Verticale title? The new format makes it so difficult to say, but bet against him at your peril.

@towerrunner

Mark Bourne – Australia

Mark Bourne Stairclimbing Australia

The only man to beat Lobodzinski in 2019, the Australian star managed it three times in a row at the end of last season.

Racing primarily at home and across Asia, Bourne rarely competes in the smaller towers some of his European rivals are familiar with, so it’s hard to know how he’ll fare in this short-course event.

He’ll make the final, of course, but does he have that raw pace to finish on top in the qualifiers and dominate the last run from the front?

We’re not sure he does. He’ll likely be in the mix for the top five, but the podium will prove elusive.

@markbournerun

Christian Riedl – Germany

Riedl finish

Despite winning the 2019 German Towerrunning Cup, Christian Riedl had a relatively quiet season last year. One of the best tower runners in the world throughout the 2010s, Riedl has been Lobodzinski’s closest rival for many years.

He was second to Lobodzinski at La Verticale in 2016-2018 and third in 2019. He also trailed the Pole when he won the world tower running championship in 2018.

We know Riedl is fast, as he’s proven by winning multiple short course events at European venues over the years. In 2019 he took wins at Hardy’s Hotelturmlauf (510 steps) and the ADAC Charity Treppenlauf (472 steps), as well as podium places at other short-course events.

It’s hard to imagine the German will be anywhere other than in the mix for the top three spots come race night if he’s at or near his best.

@christian.riedl.77

Jakob Mayer – Austria

Jakob Mayer la verticale de la tour eiffel 2020

After finishing second at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel last year (he was third in 2018), Jakob Mayer spent the rest of the 2019 season dominating the Red Bull 400 circuit in Europe. Two wins and two second-place finishes in the Red Bull 4TITUDE Challenge saw the Austrian crowned series champion at the finale in September.

The day before that finale, he set a new course record of 2:04.38 at the 441-step (plus uphill pre-run) Pyramidenkogel Turmlauf in Austria. He also won the Muensterturmlauf in Germany (560 stairs) in June.

Mayer has already got 2020 off to winning ways, with victories in the Lustenauer Cross Country Series.

Fast, super-strong and with a great engine, Mayer is once again going to be in contention for the top spot come March.

@jakob.mayer.athlete

Soh Wai Ching – Malaysia

Soh Wai Ching La Verticale 2020

The world number two had a fantastic 2019 season, picking up wins and podium spots around the world.

Ninth on his La Verticale debut in 2018, the Malaysian stepped it up last March and finished fourth, so he’s well aware of what to expect on the stairs of The Iron Lady.

We know he’s quick. Last year he became the fourth fastest person to ever run the 932 steps of Tower 42 in London when he won in 4:17. Among the three men faster than him at that London venue are fellow La Verticale 2020 rivals, Piotr Lobodzinski (3:59) and Fabio Ruga (4:11).

Expect Wai Ching to breeze to the final, and it will be a surprise not to see him somewhere back in the top five again.

@mastowerrunner

Fabio Ruga – Italy

Fabio Ruga mountain running Italia

The course record of 4:07 that Ruga set at The Gherkin in London back in 2010 still stands. We found out he was fast then, and a decade on he’s barely lost a step.

No stranger to success in the French capital, the Italian mountain runner won the VertiGO race at the 954-step Tour First last year by a clear margin, proving he still has speed.

He’s never finished outside of the top-10 at La Verticale, with the 6th place he took last year being his best result, and we don’t expect 2020 to be any different.

He will comfortably make the final, but we don’t expect to see him pushing for the top five.

@fabioruga

Tomas Celko – Slovakia

Tomas Celko 2020

The Slovakian is a well-known speedster on the tower running scene. In August 2019 he won the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava, holding off the next two entrants on our list, Alexis Trujillo and Michal Kovac.

It was a rare appearance from Celko, who had a fairly quiet tower running season. He was active on the Red Bull 400/ski jump running scene, winning in Zakopane for the second year in a row (a sixth title in total at the venue in Poland) and at the Vertikální Horečky in the Czech Republic.

After recovering from surgery at the end of last year, Celko has begun his recovery and returned to training. Will he be able to get back to full fitness and make it to Paris? If he can, expect him to be up among the fastest finishers heading into the final.

@tomascelko

Görge Heimann – Germany

Görge Heimann towerrunning

The oldest competitor on the list, at 51 years old, the ever-impressive Heimann continues to pull brilliant performances out of the hat on a regular basis.

He had a number of standout races in 2019, particularly in buildings with less than 1,000 steps. Among the highlights was a win at the 936-step Subida Vertical Gran Hotel Bali in Benidorm where he finished ahead of La Verticale rivals, Soh Wai Ching and Michal Kováč. He also took second at the highly competitive Rondo 1 race in Poland, finishing behind Piotr Lobodzinski. He was fastest at the Tallinn TV Tower (870 steps) in April and then finished ahead of Christian Riedl at the 705-step KoelnTurm Treppenlauf in Cologne in August.

Heimann’s best finish at La Verticale is 7th (2018) and you can expect him to do as well as that, if not better, on the evening of 11 March.

@goergeheimann

Michal Kováč – Slovakia

Michal Kovac towerrunner

Kováč was on the podium a bunch of times in 2019, proving himself a real force on the European tower running scene.

He was third at Rondo 1 in Warsaw in February and then second at London’s Vertical Rush in March. In August he took third at the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava and in October he was third at the 365-step sprint Beh Do Neba Zilina in Slovakia. He’s proven multiple times he has the speed to match his endurance.

He also made his La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel debut last year and finished in an impressive 7th.

Anticipate another top-10 finish this time around too.

@kovomiso

Alexis Trujillo – Mexico

Alexis Trujillo La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

2019 was a big year for Trujillo as he finished as the world number three. Winning numerous races and finishing on the podium across multiple continents, he established himself as an international tower running star.

Among the most relevant results when assessing his chances at La Verticale is his second place at the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava in August. The Mexican had already shown he had the legs for the long races, but made it clear he is also lightning fast.

Back in Mexico he was second at the 636-step Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in March, then won the Carrera Vertical Uvm Campus Chapultepec (654 steps) in July and Carrera Towerrunning Tlaxcala (900 steps) in August.

Trujillo will expect to be in the fight for the top five, but the podium might be out of reach this time around.

@alexistrujillo_atl

Frank Carreno – Colombia

Frank Carreno towerrunning

Carreno has finished in 5th place at each La Verticale he’s contested (2017-2019). The Colombian is another known speedster on the tower running circuit and with the new short format favouring him, he’ll be looking to do even better than 5th place this year.

He has form over this sort of step count too. Last March he won the 636-step Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in 3:17, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Alexis Trujillo. Then, in September, he won the 500-step Carrera Vertical Hotsson Smart Acapulco.

If he gets to Paris in good shape, he should be right up there competing for the top places in the final.

@frankcarreno.towerrunning

Matjaž Mikloša – Slovenia

Matjaz Miklosa

Miklosa blew onto the UK tower running radar in 2015 when he set the fantastic 2:07 course record at the 530-step Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

Last December he won the Zagrepcanka 512 in Zagreb, Croatia. That race involves two runs up 490 steps with a 10-minute rest between rounds. The format change at La Verticale suits him down to the ground.

Miklosa also took third place in the final standings of the Red Bull 4TITUDE Challenge 2019.

He’s never broken into the top 10 at La Verticale, but this could well be the year he manages it.

More:

For years Australian tower runners have been among the very best in the world, winning multiple titles and setting untouchable records.

The performance of Aussie athletes at the Empire State Building Run-Up is particularly impressive. From Geoff Case and Belinda Soszyn in the 1990s to Paul Crake and Suzy Walsham throughout the 2000s.

To celebrate the national day (26th January) of the home of these incredible tower runners we’ve put together a video of all the winning Australian athletes at the ESBRU from Craig Logan in 1988 to Suzy Walsham in 2019.

Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019

Mark Bourne and Valentina Belotti put in showcase performances yesterday to take victory at the Towerrunning Tour Final at Shanghai Tower.

Australian Bourne clocked a PB of 17:33 to take first place in the world’s second-tallest building, finishing ahead of Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) who reached the top of the 3,398-step tower in 17:57.

It was the fourth win from four races in a little over four weeks for the sensational Bourne. With recent wins over Lobodzinski at Shanghai IFC (Oct. 20) and Osaka (Nov. 10), plus victory over world number two Soh Wai Ching at Melbourne’s Eureka Tower, Bourne headed into the race as favourite.

In the first half of the season, Bourne had lost four times on the trot to Lobodzinski, at Lotte World Tower (Seoul), Allianz Tower (Milan), Landmark 81 (Ho Chi Minh city) and Taipei 101.

But the Australian mountain running star stepped away from the stairs for five months, before returning in October to begin a run of dominating performances that culminated in his win yesterday at the biggest race of the year.

MarkBourne Shanghai 2019

 

‘After a busy week and not feeling 100%, I felt quite ordinary during the warm up. Luckily I trusted my training, got into a good rhythm and even managed a PB,’ said Bourne.

China’s Wenbo Zeng took third in 18:15.

Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019 top five men:

1. Mark Bourne (AUS) 17:33
2. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 17:57
3. Wenbo Zeng (CHN) 18:15
4. Qinhua Liu (CHN) 18:19
5. Wai Ching Soh (MYS) 18:26

Belotti wins super-close battle

Victory for Italy’s Valentina Belotti was a much closer affair. Her winning time of 20:50 was just four seconds ahead of Suzy Walsham (AUS).

The in-form Belotti, who already had a confidence-boosting win over Walsham at Ostankino Tower (Moscow) in August, managed to take 54 seconds off the time she clocked at the Shanghai Tower last year.

Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019 top five women:

1. Valentina Belotti (ITA) 20:50
2. Suzy Walsham (AUS) 20:54
3. Muhua Jian (CHN) 21:23
4. Linming Chen (CHN) 22:02
5. Brooke Logan (AUS) 22:28

Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski win Towerrunning Tour 2019

Beyond the focus of the head-to-head clashes between Bourne/Lobodzinski and Belotti/Walsham was the business of seeing who would end up top of the Towerrunning World Association rankings for 2019 and secure the title of Towerrunning Tour champion.

The combined total of the top eight results of each athlete throughout the year determine their position in the final TWA rankings.

With 240 points on the table in Shanghai a lot of positions were still up for grabs, in the men’s race in particular.

With her dominance throughout the year, only a complete disaster could have prevented Suzy Walsham taking her ninth title.

In order for the Australian to lose her grip on the trophy, Cindy Harris (USA) would have to win the race, and Walsham would have to finish in 16th place or lower. Given that Walsham hasn’t finished off the podium all year, this was never going to happen.

So, Walsham’s second-place finish was more than enough to see her win the title.

View this post on Instagram

I’m pretty happy to finish 2nd 🥈today (even though it was a close 4secs from the win and 20sec off my course record from last year) as I achieved my aim of sub-21min. My injury interrupted year means I’ve struggled a bit in the “super towers” (the 100+ floor buildings) and today I felt strong for about 90 floors…but when the race is 119 floors that just wasn’t enough!! * But today’s performance was more than enough to secure my 9th Towerrunning World Tour Championship 🏆 and finish the year with the World #1 ranking. * Big congrats to @markbournerun and @valerun80 for their stellar wins today, and to @towerrunner for securing yet another Towerrunning World title. It was great today to see so much depth in both the men’s and women’s races with 60 elites racing and big congrats to all – it’s one long, tough race. #world1 #worldtitle #worldtour #towerrunning #towerrunningworldtour #9worldtitles #toughrace #verticalrunning #stairrunning #athletelife #friends #nike #nikesg #alpnutrition #alpnutritionsport #chiroworkssg #chiroworksathlete #justdoit #shanghaitowerverticalmarathon #theonlywayisup

A post shared by Suzy Walsham 🇦🇺🏃🏻‍♀️ (@suzywalsham) on

Towerrunning Tour 2019 women’s standings:

1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) 1126
2. Cindy Harris (USA) 850
3. Muhua Jian (CHN) 750

For Piotr Lobodzinski the permutations were a little more pressing.

Having been forced to skip the 120-point race at the Menara TM in Kuala Lumpur in favour of the rescheduled Vertical World Circuit final in Osaka (Nov. 10), Lobodzinski had gifted Soh Wai Ching – who won that Kuala Lumpur race – an excellent opportunity to take the overall title in Shanghai.

If Lobodzinski finished in second as current form suggested he might, Wai Ching needed to finish in fourth to take the 2019 Tour title.

View this post on Instagram

The calm before the storm! Being flag off at the 2nd last with a 30s gap before the World No. 1 @towerrunner from Poland. The main objective is not to let him overtake me, and aim to overtake @alexistrujillo_atl from Mexico, where he started 30s in front of me. Started at a 113 bpm, maintain the whole journey comfortably and I knew I can hold this pace for a super long journey. Decided to speed up at some point of time as I found out the landing part took me 3 steps instead of 2 steps from what I forecasted or predicted based on the floor plan I have. You will never know whether the floor plan you have are actually the exactly correct one. So you have to always subject to variable change and adapting from time to time, react and respond fast when you see an odd number of steps in the flight, hop on triple steps so that you can save a beat, which in long term wise will lead to a big gain in time. It was a tough challenge and I started to love this course and understand more of it after 2nd time of running it. I will definitely be back next year to revenge for a sub 18 at least! Thanks everyone for the support! More stories up next. Thanks once again. #MasTowerRunner #MalaysiaTowerRunningAssociation

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Alternative finishing positions could have let Alexis Trujillo (MEX) and Görge Heimann (GER) sneak in for the overall title, too. There was a lot on the line.

But Wai Ching’s 18:26 finish was only good enough for fifth place, a mere seven seconds separating him from Qinhua Liu in fourth.

Lobodzinski’s second-place finish, then, was enough to secure him his sixth Towerrunning Tour title. Just 10 points separated the top two at the end of the season.

Towerrunning Tour 2019 men’s standings:

1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 964
2. Wai Ching Soh (MYS) 954
3. Alexis Trujillo (MEX) 864

Full Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon 2019 results

Eureka Tower stair climb 2019

Mark Bourne remains undefeated at the Eureka Tower in Melbourne after picking up his eighth win yesterday.

The Canberra man clocked his second fastest time at the tower since his debut in 2011, reaching the top of the 1,958-step building in 7:45.

Eureka Tower has played host to some great battles between the best Australian tower runners of the past decade. Between 2011 and 2017, Bourne went head-to-head with Darren Wilson and Scott McTaggart.

Bourne came out on top in each of those contests, setting the course record of 7:34 back in 2013.

With Wilson and McTaggart absent from the race in 2016 and 2017, Bourne had fairly straightforward, and slower, wins those years, failing to run under eight minutes for the first time since his first race at the building in 2011. He then skipped the 2018 edition.

Yesterday, with world ranked number two, Soh Wai Ching (MYS) behind Bourne on the start line, there was hopeful anticipation for a return to tight and competitive racing in Melbourne.

But Bourne was on another level as he pulled away from the Malaysian, who finished second in 8:58.

bourne and wai ching

Mark Bourne and Soh Wai Ching

It’s the third win in less than a month for the magisterial Bourne, after recently beating world number one Piotr Lobodzinski in Shanghai (Oct. 20) and Osaka (Nov. 10).

After taking more than a four-month break from tower running over the summer months, his return to the stairs in the past four weeks has been nothing short of astounding.

Next weekend he heads back to Shanghai for the TWA Tour Final, where you can expect to see him on the podium. If he wins, whatever the final rankings say, it will be hard to argue that he isn’t the top stair climber in the world right now.

Eureka Tower stair climb 2019 results

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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 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:55  Suzy Walsham (AUS)
2017 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:33  Suzy Walsham (AUS) **
2018 Ching Chun Lo  Bridget Robertson **

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

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Mark Bourne won the Race to Shanghai IFC this morning to become the first person to beat world champion Piotr Lobodzinski in 2019.

The Australian mountain running star reached the top of the 1,460-step tower in 7:58, ahead of Lobodzinski, who finished in 8:05.

Bourne, who set the course record of 7:42 in 2016, was back on the tower running circuit for the first time since May. But the five month break from the stairs (albeit filled with mountain running) seems to have done the Canberra man no harm at all.

‘I’m very happy to come here and win up this building again. It’s the sixth time I’ve been here and I always enjoy coming back. I’ve won it four times now. I’m looking forward to Osaka in three weeks’ time. I’ve done some very good times there in the past so looking forward to finishing off the season strongly,’ said Bourne.

The race on Sunday morning was the fifth occasion the long-time rivals had met this season, with Lobodzinski having won each of those races.

Heading into the event, Lobodzinski was on an 11-race win streak and was hoping to maintain his unbeaten run to the end of the season.

But on this particular course, the world number one has often struggled to beat Bourne, and once again he found himself undone.

It was the first time since 2014 that Lobodzinski failed to finish in under eight minutes.

Third place on the day went to Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe who finished in 8:17.

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Mark Bourne Stairclimbing Australia

Mark Bourne – winner of the 2013 Empire State Building Run-Up, seven-time winner of Melbourne’s Eureka Tower Stair Climb, holder of numerous course records and one of the top stair climbers in the world over the past decade – is the right man to take tower running advice from.

Bourne spoke with Men’s Health (Australia) to give some expert tower running tips, including pointers on warming up, pacing yourself and establishing a rhythm during a race.

Here are some of the highlights:

The lead up to the race

‘You definitely don’t want to be training the day before the race. I might do a light jog two days before, but it won’t be anything strenuous.’

‘Have confidence in your preparation and don’t introduce new things into your training routine.’

Warming up

‘Some 10 or 20 metre sprints at about 75 per cent would be a good warm-up. If you can find a small single stairwell to run up then that will also get the blood pumping around your body.’

Eat light

‘It’s not like a marathon so you don’t need to go carb loading. The worse thing you could do is fill yourself up to the point of feeling sick.’

‘It’s a personal preference but I also have a good hit of caffeine in the morning.’

Mark Bourne towerrunning

How to run a stair race

Aim for a steady pace

‘You’re going to be tempted to race off as quickly as you can, but you need to take it steady. Start off conservatively with a pace that you think you can maintain. And don’t worry if you find yourself running parts of the race and walking other bits, it’s bound to happen.’

‘The lactic acid will build up and burn deep in your legs, if you have to slow down then just do it. Walking intensely for a few flights will serve you better than trying to run through a pain that you can’t shake.’

Two steps at a time and use the railing

‘Make use of the railing, it can assist you when you’re going around corners. The other thing professionals do is climb two steps at a time. Whether you are walking or running, always aim for a couple steps in each time you go forward.’

Establish a rhythm

‘It’s not just a physical battle but a gruelling mental slog. You need to find a zone where you can just concentrate on your stepping rhythm and tunnel your vision towards the goal of reaching the top.’

‘It’s best to ignore any progress and avoid looking at the stairwell numbers. From the word go, see how far you can get before working out how high you are, the numbers will only slow you down.’

For the full list of tips, including what to do after a race, check out Bourne’s interview with Men’s Health Australia.

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Piotr Lobodzinski and Mark Bourne renew their rivalry this coming Sunday (20 October) in the eighth round of the Vertical World Circuit series in Shanghai, China.

The pair have faced off three times in the Vertical World Circuit this year, with Lobodzinski coming out on top on each occasion.

At the 2,917-step Lotte World Tower International Sky Run in Seoul, back at the start of April, Lobodzinski set a new course record of 15:37 – a huge 16 second improvement on his previous fastest time. Bourne himself ran a magnificent race to finish just two seconds behind in 15:39.

A week later the pair went head-to-head again in Milan, at the 1,027-step Allianz Tower.

At the finish, less than a second separated them. But once again it was Lobodzinski who came out on top, setting a new course record of 5:16 in the process.

Two weeks later the Australian had another chance to attempt to beat his Polish rival. The action returned to Asia for the inaugural Vinpearl Luxury Landmark 81 – Race to the Summit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 2,383 steps stood between the bottom and the top of the world’s 14th tallest tower.

Once again Lobodzinski took the win. His finishing time of 11:35 was a massive 50 seconds faster than Bourne’s.

VWC 2018 winner Lobodzinski

Piotr Lobodzinski won the Vertical World Circuit title in 2018

Now the action heads to Shanghai, where the pair have been swapping wins over the past few seasons.

Bourne vs Lobodzinski: Race to Shanghai IFC

2014
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:55)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (8:10)

2015
Winner: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:54)
Runner-up: Mark Bourne (8:22)

2016
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:42 – course record)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:47)

2017
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:44)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:53)

2018
Winner: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:43)
Runner-up: Mark Bourne (7:59)

Heading into Sunday’s clash, Lobodzinski is confident he can maintain his unbeaten run in 2019.

‘After my win last year here, I know I can break the course record now,’ said the world number one. ‘We will see, but it should be a fast and interesting battle like always. I can’t wait!’

After recently competing at the OCR World Championships – where his Team OCRA finished 5th – Lobodzinski is refocusing on the stairs.

Although Mark Bourne has been out of the stairwells since the Taipei 101 Run-Up in May (where he also finished as runner-up to Lobodzinski), he has competed in mountain running events since then. What sort of form he’ll be in on Sunday remains to be seen.

Check back on Sunday/Monday, as we’ll have all the news from the race as results come in.

For years Australian tower runners have been among the very best in the world, winning multiple titles and setting untouchable records.

The performance of Aussie athletes at the Empire State Building Run-Up is particularly impressive. From Geoff Case and Belinda Soszyn in the 1990s to Paul Crake and Suzy Walsham throughout the 2000s.

To celebrate the national day (26th January) of the home of these incredible tower runners we’ve put together a video of all the winning Australian athletes at the ESBRU from Craig Logan in 1988 to Suzy Walsham in 2018.

Piotr Lobodzinski and Suzy Walsham took the first victories in the 2018 Vertical World Circuit on Sunday at the Lotte World Tower International Sky Run in Seoul, Korea.

Just a week on from their respective World Championship wins in Taipei, the pair raced up 2,917 steps to the top of the world’s fifth tallest building to kick off the nine-race VWC series.

Lobodzinski extended his unbeaten run in 2018 by holding off the challenge from Australia’s Mark Bourne and Japanese star Riyoji Watanabe.

The Bull of Bielsk Podlaski reached the top of the 550+ metre tower in 15.53, with Bourne behind in 16.16. Watanabe finished in 17.19.

It was Lobodzinski’s 123rd stair climb event, and coincidentally and fittingly the race covered 123 floors.

 

For Walsham it was a more comfortable victory as she finished over a minute faster than her nearest rival en route to setting a new course record of 18.45, two seconds faster than the time she set at the tower’s inaugural race last year.

Korea’s Ji Eun Kim gave the locals something to cheer about as she took second in 19.49.

Alice McNamara from Australia came in third in 20.08. Having missed the World Championship last weekend due to illness, McNamara will surely be extremely happy with taking a hefty 12 seconds off her time from 2017. A great return to competition.

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Great way to start the 2018 @verticalworldcircuit with a win in the tallest race on the circuit, clocking a 2sec course record (improvement of 0.016sec per floor 😉 ) at Lotte World Tower Sky Run this morning. Well done to @towerrunner for his win, and to @_alice_mac and @markbournerun for ensuring 🇦🇺 took half of the podium positions! (📷VWC / Sporting Republic) 👍🏃🏻‍♀️🔝#verticalworldcircuit #vwc18 #lotteworldtowerinternationalskyrun #lotteworldtower #sportingrepublic #verticalrunning #stairrunning #towerrunning #nike #nikeracer #justdoit #chiroworkssg #chiroworksathlete #staystrong #stayfocused #lostcountofthesteps #winner #courserecord #takethestairs #seoul

A post shared by Suzy Walsham 🇦🇺🏃🏻‍♀️ (@suzywalsham) on

The next stage in the series takes place on Thursday 24th May at Tour First in Paris.

London, which was announced last week as host for the penultimate event in the nine-race series, will be the only other European venue.

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Piotr ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski stormed to victory at Taipei 101 on Saturday to secure his second consecutive tower running world title.

In a dominant performance, the 32-year-old Polish star won both races in the two-part championship format to finish well clear of second-placed rival Christian Riedl.

The championship event began with a ‘sprint’ up the first 35 floors of Taipei 101. Although Lobodzinski was a clear pre-race favourite, it was in this shorter race that he was expected to face his toughest test. But in the end it wasn’t nearly as close as some had anticipated.

Setting off first at just before 7.30am local time, Lobodzinski powered up 824 steps in just 3.39. He was followed into the stairwell by known speedster Frank Carreno, who some had anticipated winning the sprint event.

However, the Colombian athlete, who won the Empire State Building Run Up 2018 back in February, was some way off the blistering pace set by Showtime. Carreno finished in 3.50, with Germany’s Riedl third in 3.55.

Less than 90 minutes later the athletes were back at the start line ready for the second race of the day. This time they would be going up 2,046 stairs to the 91st floor of Taipei 101.

With Lobodzinski undefeated in 2018, and rarely beaten in longer races, he was largely expected to take the win in the longer race. Pre-race speculation had considered the chances of Mark Bourne, one of the only men to have beaten Lobodzinski in a tall tower in recent years, presenting a challenge, but it wasn’t to be.

Lobodzinski reached the 91st floor in 11.11, with Riedl just behind in second (11.15) and Japan’s Riyoji Watanabe in third (11.48). Carreno was fourth in 11.49 and Bourne fifth, just a few hundredths of a second behind the Colombian.

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The top six men at the tower running World Championship 2018: (l-r) Riyoji Watanabe, Christian Riedl, Piotr Lobodzinski, Frank Carreno, Mark Bourne, Gorge Heimann.

With maximum points from both races, Lobodzinski was crowned World Champion. A third-place and second-place finish across both races secured Christian Riedl second place overall, while Frank Carreno did enough in both races to take third place.

With his win in Taipei, Lobodzinski adds a second world title to the one he won in 2015 in Doha.

What next for the Polish superstar? The nine-event Vertical World Circuit (VWC) begins next week in Seoul at the Lotte Tower. Lobodzinski was beaten there last year by Mark Bourne, so will be expected to return to Korea to exact revenge and set himself up on the way to another VWC title. In this sort of form, who would bet against him?

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In less than 48 hours time the 2018 tower running world champion will be crowned. Who will it be?

2015 world champion and current world number one Piotr ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski is the understandable pre-race favourite. In March, the Polish star took victory at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, holding off the challenge from most of the same top-level rivals he’ll face in Taipei on Saturday. In fact, Lobodzinski finished a fairly comfortable 15 seconds ahead of second place Christian Riedl in Paris.

The best in the world have been fairly quiet since that talent-stacked race in March. Jakob Mayer, Frank Carreno and Tomas Celko were in Valtellina last month taking on the 2,700-step course there, but Riedl, Bourne and Lobodzinski have kept a fairly low profile as they prepared for this weekend’s championship.

Based solely on recent form, and specifically the result from Paris, picking Lobodzinski to retain his world title appears to be the smart bet. The Pole seems to be in almost unbeatable form.

But taking a look at results going back the last few years, it starts to look a lot less straightforward.

Who can beat Lobodzinski?

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The World Championship format consists of two races. Race one is up 824 steps of Taipei 101 and race two, 90 minutes later, will be a full run of the tower up 91 floors/2,046 steps. Points will be assigned to the top 50 and the person with the most combined points after the two races will be world champion. If points are tied after the two rounds, highest finishing position in race two will determine the overall winner.

With the most prestigious races on the tower running circuit happening at towers with more than 1,500 steps it’s not so easy to find shorter events where the world’s elite have gone head-to-head. But there have been some races that give an indication of how the top male stair climbers fare against each other in shorter races.

The Rondo 1 event in Warsaw, Poland is run over 836-steps/38 floors; very close to the distance of race one at the World Championship. Back in February, Lobodzinski took a fairly comfortable win there, finishing 11 seconds ahead of Germany’s Christian ‘The Eclipse’ Riedl.

But go a bit further back to the Grand Prix of Europe races in Vienna and Brno in September 2017 and Showtime looks a lot more mortal over the shorter distance.

At the 779-step Danube Tower in Vienna, Lobodzinski beat ‘The Zilina Avalanche’ Tomas Celko by just one second. The following day in Brno, Czech Republic, at the 700-step AZ Tower, it was Celko who came out on top, finishing three seconds ahead of Showtime.

Mark Bourne tends not to compete at shorter distances, purely because the towers with races in Australia and Asia are massive. Estimating how he might do over 824 steps is an all-important unknown.

But Lobodzinski can be taken on the short course. Celko and Riedl will be pushing him hard for sure, and he is in no way guaranteed maximum points in that first race. On the long course, his dominance is a bit more established and he is very rarely beaten. But Bourne can beat him over that distance and he has done it several times before.

Bourne vs Lobodzinski: a recent history

These two have clashed multiple times, and the Australian has probably beaten Lobodzinski in the mega-towers more times than any other stair climber on the circuit has managed to do (to be fair, very few have).

In April 2017 the pair faced off at the 1st Lotte World Tower Skyrun in Seoul, Korea. The race at the fifth tallest building in the world goes up 2,917 steps. Bourne kept Lobodzinski in second place there, finishing 14 seconds ahead of him.

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Mark Bourne wins the Lotte World Tower Sky Run 2017

Then in October 2017, Bourne took victory ahead of Showtime when they raced at Two Shanghai IFC in China. That was over 1,958 steps and Bourne won by nine seconds.

Three weeks later they met again at the 1,621-step Harukas Tower in Osaka, Japan, and Lobodzinski exacted revenge on ‘The Canberra Assassin’, finishing 13 seconds ahead.

Two weeks after that, it was Lobodzinski again who took the spoils, this time at the mammoth 3,398-stair Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world. Bourne was pushed back into third by Christian Riedl.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in March was the last time the pair met. Lobodzinski made it four wins in a row at the iconic Parisian landmark, while Bourne finished in fourth.

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Lobodzinski on his way to winning La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2018

So, despite Lobodzinski having the upper hand in their last three races, Bourne has shown on multiple occasions that he is more than a match. He has the ability to win the full-length race on Saturday.

How do they compare at Taipei 101?

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If we go back a little further and compare the two at Taipei 101, we add another potentially significant element to the discussion.

In 2013 Bourne beat Lobodzinski by 20 seconds on his way to setting the third fastest time ever clocked at the tower. Riedl was third.

In 2014, the podium looked exactly the same. This time, though, Lobodzinski had significantly narrowed the gap and was only four seconds behind Bourne.

Bourne was missing from the race in 2015, and Lobodzinski took his first and only win at the venue.

Neither man was there in 2016, and Bourne returned last year to take victory, with Lobodzinski absent.

So, between the two, Bourne has the fastest time at the World Championship venue and the most recent win. This is sure to give him the confidence to look beyond the most recent results between them at other towers.

If Bourne can stay within touching distance of Showtime in the shorter distance race, i.e. no more than one place behind him, then he will put himself in genuine contention for seriously competing for the title in the final race on Saturday morning.

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Australia’s Mark Bourne and Suzy Walsham took decisive victories at the Asian-Oceanian Towerrunning Championships this past weekend, held at Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

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Taipei 101 (2,046 steps), venue for the Asian & Oceanian Towerrunning Championships 2017

The Aussie pair returned to Taiwan, having both taken a break from the race – a year off for Walsham and two for Bourne.

Walsham had last one in 2015 and Bourne in 2014, and they returned on Sunday to stamp their dominance on their rivals with clear wins in the eighth tallest building in the world.

In its 13th edition, the race at Taipei 101 is recognised as one of the toughest on the global race calendar.

Walsham reached the top of the building’s 2,046 notoriously steep steps in a time of 13.36 – 20 seconds off her 2015 winning time and personal best- but still well over a minute faster than fellow Australian Alice McNamara who came in second in 14.58.

Similarly, Bourne was well off his best pace at the 508m tall building – 10.52 set in 2013 – but managed to secure victory with a time of 11.24. Behind him was another Australian, Leon Keely – who has previously competed at the highly-demanding Orienteering World Cup, and was taking part in only his second ever stair climb.

Both Bourne and Walsham had taken wins at the Lotte Tower in Seoul, Korea (the fifth tallest building in the world) a fortnight before (you can see footage of Bourne breaking the tape in Seoul here where he beat reigning world champion Piotr Lobodzinski in the much-anticipated exhibition event) so were good bets for their victories in Taipei.

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Suzy Walsham and Mark Bourne (image courtesy of Towerrunning World Association)

With such dominant displays over the last few weeks, surely both athletes will be looking ahead to the World Championships in China next month with huge confidence? Bourne has shown himself time and again to be one of the only real rivals to Piotr ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski, especially over the longer distances. Their expected battle for top spot will be one of the highlights of the 2017 season.

Walsham, for the most part, continues to exist in a world of her own at the top of the female rankings, so rarely is she troubled by her competitors. Only Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi has beaten Walsham in the past six months, and Walsham avenged that defeat at the Lotte Tower Run. She seems undefeatable in 2017, and her rivals at the upcoming World Championship must surely know they are ultimately competing for second place. Andrea Mayr, where are you??