Posts Tagged ‘Piotr Lobodzinski’

Lobodzinski Empire State Run Up 2019

Piotr Lobodzinski is unbeaten so far in 2019 and now appears practically invincible. Is it a problem for tower running or does it add to the excitement of following the sport?

Speaking after winning silver in the 400m final at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GB athlete Roger Black admitted that he and six of his fellow athletes had been competing for second place. They all knew they stood no chance against the incredible Michael Johnson from the USA, who won the gold medal in a new Olympic record.

Johnson didn’t finish any lower than second in a 400m race from the start of the 1993 season to the Olympic final in 1996 (a total of 37 races). And those second-place finishes were in the heats or semi-finals of major championships where he was likely just doing enough to qualify.

This is just one example of extreme one-sidedness in athletics. Usain Bolt had a 45-race win streak from 2013-2017, which came after his complete dominance at the World and Olympic finals before that period.

Going back a little further, Ed Moses dominated the 400m hurdles for a full decade, amassing a win streak of over 100 races.

Great runners

Moses, Johnson and Bolt all dominated for years

But dominance in the track and field sprint events is a little different. Even when Moses, Johnson and Bolt were winning repeatedly, the margins of victory were quite often small. That’s expected in the 100m and 200m (although Bolt of course had some famously massive wins in those events), but in the 400m races, Johnson and Moses were also often only winning by less than half a second.

That is, their races were still highly competitive…for the most part.

What about tower running?

Two-time tower running world champion Piotr Lobodzinski has been on top of the sport for over five years.

He’s been beaten before – Tomas Celko, Christian Riedl and Mark Bourne have all bested the Polish star over various distances on occasion in recent years.

But this season Lobodzinski seems to have elevated himself to another level that has him out of reach of almost all of his rivals.

Has the competitiveness gone out of men’s tower running at the very top?

Is a sport dominated by one person in danger of becoming boring, or does this display of individual brilliance serve as a welcome inspiration for tower running fans and participants?

Lobodzinski’s season so far

After winning his second Towerrunning World Championship title in 2018, the Polish superstar headed into the 2019 season with confidence high.

He got things underway in February in Dubai, with a perfunctory win at the 1,600-step Vertical Run Almas Tower, where he finished 91 seconds ahead of the second-placed male. High level international competition was largely absent from the event.

Next was the Rondo 1 race in Warsaw, Poland. Back on home turf, Lobdodzinski was expected to be pushed a bit harder on the mid-length course by some of Europe’s top tower runners, and he was.

But he still came out on top relatively unscathed, finishing 14 seconds ahead of runner-up Görge Heimann. Although it may not seem that big a gap to the uninitiated, considering the length of the course – 836 steps – it is fairly significant.

In March, he was back in Paris at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel to attempt to win the event for the fifth time in a row.

A very serious test was anticipated ahead of this race. Only Mark Bourne was absent from the full list of elite tower runners from around the world in attendance.

At previous editions it had been Germany’s Christian Riedl who had come closest to toppling Lobodzinski. In 2016, less than six seconds separated the pair. In 2017, the margin of difference was just under 10 seconds, while in 2018 it was 15 seconds. Although the gap was growing, it was still manageable, and an improving field of competitors was expected to launch a stiff test.

Lobodzinski La Vertical Tour Eiffel 2019

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2019

But Lobodzinski finished an unbelievable 50 seconds ahead of Jakob Mayer in second to secure a fifth straight title. Conditions on the day were bad, and it clearly impacted the runners, but Lobodzinski was unfazed. Once again he dipped under the eight minute mark, clocking a time very consistent with all his other wins.

It was this performance that made keen observers sit up and really take in how supreme he was becoming. Yes, he had been on top for some time, but this win was different.

Dominating the Vertical World Circuit

With a couple of solid wins at European venues in the bag, Lobodzinski headed to Asia to compete on the Vertical World Circuit.

First up was the 2,919-step Lotte World Tower International Sky Run in Seoul, Korea and a face-off with Australian star Mark Bourne.

Lotte World Tower run up race 2019

Lotte World Tower, Seoul, Korea

Bourne was the record holder at the tower, having set the best time of 15:44 in 2017.

Lobodzinski had beaten Bourne at the 2018 edition in a personal best of 15:53.

At the race on 6th 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 in another leg of the Vertical World Circuit. The 1,027-step Allianz Tower serving as the venue this time.

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.

Allianz Vertical Run 2019 Lobodzinski win

Lobodzinski celebrates his win in Milan alongside fellow winner Suzy Walsham

Bourne was proving Lobodzinski’s biggest rival. Each time coming so close, but just not getting the breaks.

Two weeks later the Australian had another chance to attempt to beat his 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.

Bourne and Lobodzinski had been splitting victories for a number of years now in some of the regions tallest towers, so another close contest was anticipated. Especially after the particularly tight race in Seoul.

But once again Lobodzinski pulled out a performance for the ages. His finishing time of 11:35 was a massive 50 seconds faster than Bourne’s.

Pulling away in May

A week later on 5 May it was the Taipei 101 Run Up, where Lobodzinski had won his second world title in 2018.

He completely dominated again. This time running a personal best 10:46. Bourne was once more his nearest rival, but he finished 41 seconds back in 11:27.

A gap was opening up.

Taipei 101 Run Up 2019 Lobodzinski

Piotr Lobodzinski wins the 2019 Taipei 101 Run Up

On 14 May the Empire State Building Run-Up welcomed Lobodzinski. There was no Bourne in attendance, but Soh Wai Ching and Fabio Ruga were there to keep Lobodzinski on his toes.

But in reality they didn’t. Lobodzinski ran one of the fastest times ever at the venue (becoming the second-fastest man ever behind only Paul Crake). He crossed the line in 10:05, a full 1:13 ahead of Wai Ching in second place.

Lobodzinski Empire State Run Up 2019

Lobodzinski crosses the Empire State Building Run-Up finish line in the fifth fastest time ever

Had there been a shift in the dynamics of the competition? Were the other runners competing for second place? It was beginning to appear that way. Three races on the trot and nobody had come even close to challenging Lobodzinski.

At the end of the month he returned to Wroclaw, Poland where he clocked another straightforward win, this time against almost exclusively Polish competition.

A quiet June and July followed, with a break from tower running.

Another level of dominance

On 24 August he returned to action at the 1,704-step Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

Lobodzinski had finished second there in 2018 behind Christian Riedl, trailing the German by just a second.

Riedl was absent this time around, but even if he had been in attendance it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Lobodzinski was on another level and he set a new course record of 9:36, taking 15 seconds off the previous best time.

The perfect season?

So let’s ‘punch the numbers’, so to speak.

  • Ten races
  • Ten wins
  • Four course records (Lotte Tower, Allianz Tower and Ostankino Tower, plus default record at the inaugural race at Vinpearl Luxury Landmark 81)
  • Two additional personal bests (Taipei 101 and Empire State Building)

Lobodzinski has been on top for a number of years now, but this season he is showcasing an unprecedented degree of dominance. It feels like he is now competing on a level all of his own. There may even be more PBs in some of the races, such as Wroclaw, we’re unaware of. It’s unbelievable.

As a fan of the sport it’s exciting to see an athlete at the top of his powers, breaking records and getting closer to marks such as the mythic sub 10-minute ESBRU finish.

Personally, we like to see athletes like Lobodzinski raising the bar, bringing new levels of excellence to the sport and showing what’s achievable. But there’s a limit to how long it can go on for before things start to get a little dull, and we think men’s tower running is fast approaching it.

A key element of the appeal of following elite level sports is the competition. Take that away and what’s left?

To be fair, it’s not 100% clear that Lobodzinski has completely pulled away. But he’s been winning almost everything there is to win for close to five years and his most recent set of performances this year do indicate a shift of some kind.

If he completes the ‘perfect’ season by going unbeaten in 2019, and does so by continuing to clock significant winning margins along the way, it will be hugely impressive, but it might also have a negative impact on the appeal of the sport from the fan’s perspective.

Yes, Mark Bourne was just one or two seconds away from winning a couple of those races earlier in the year, but Lobodzinski has since opened up a gap. Bourne is capable of getting back to winning ways, but if he will or not remains to be seen.

Christian Riedl is off the scene, only dipping in for the occasional race here or there.

Soh Wai Ching and Ryoji Watanabe are making great gains, but they still appear some way off being considered strong enough rivals to topple Lobodzinski.

There are four races left in the Vertical World Circuit where we might get to see Lobodzinski and Bourne go head-to-head again. Other races outside of the VWC will also likely see Lobodzinski face the best in the world.

Will they be able to rein him back in or will we all just be following the Piotr Lobodzinski Show until he calls time on his glittering career?

But let’s be clear. Despite the slightly provocative title of this post, we are massive fans of Showtime Lobodzinski. He is a brilliant ambassador for the sport and we thoroughly enjoy following his stair climbing exploits around the globe. He’s making the most of his powers to reap the rewards and accolades of years of hard work and training, and long may it continue.

We’d love to see him complete a perfect, unbeaten run in 2019, but maybe he could falter at least once in 2020…just to keep things interesting.

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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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Tower running world champions Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski won at the Almas Tower Vertical Run in Dubai on Saturday.

The race up the 1,600 steps of the Almas Tower, the seventh tallest building in Dubai, was the first in 2019 for both tower runners.

COPYRIGHT JORGE FERRARI

Almas Tower, Dubai (courtesy Jorge Ferrari)

In the absence of any other leading international tower runners, the pair cruised to practically uncontested victories.

Lobodzinski was fastest overall on the day with a winning time of 7:50. It was the fourth year in a row the Polish star has won the event, and his winning performance bagged him a handsome prize of around £2,000.

Lobodzinski Dubai Almas Tower 2019

Lobodzinski celebrates outside the Almas Tower, Dubai

In what was her 100th stair climb victory, in 12 years of tower running, Suzy Walsham finished an impressive second overall as she reached the top in 9:21, a split second faster than the second-fastest man, Belgium’s Christophe Huybrighs.

It was a huge course record for the Australian, too. The previous best time of 9:50 having been set in 2018 by Italy’s Valentina Belotti.

It’s a great start to the season for the pair. The next race they will be at again together will be La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris on 13th March, where each will be looking to win the event for the fifth straight time.

Almas Tower Vertical Run 2019 full results

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

The selection of the elite male and female runners for the 2019 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel has been announced.

15 women and 25 men from around the world were picked by the organisers of the event, which is coming into its fifth year.

Since launching in 2015, the race, which takes place on Wednesday 13th March at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, has become the premier European tower running event.

Each of the four previous editions (2015-2018) have been won by Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) and Suzy Walsham (AUS), and they will both return to Paris in 2019 to try and secure a fifth straight win.

Joining Walsham will be:

  • Amandine Bertrand – France
  • Laure Chardin – France
  • Kamila Chamanicova – Slovakia
  • Vanja Cnops – Belgium
  • Cristina Bonacina – Italy
  • Sarah Frost – Great Britain
  • Muhua Jian – China
  • Anais Leroy – France
  • Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel – Mexico
  • Alice McNamara – Australia
  • Laurie Phai – Cambodia
  • Sonja Shakespeare – Great Britain
  • Iwona Wicha – Poland
  • Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik – Poland

 

Challenging Lobodzinski will be:

  • Christophe Anselmo – France
  • Mark Bourne – Australia
  • Michel Bowie – France
  • Nicolas Cantagrel – France
  • Roberto Delorenzi – Switzerland
  • Fabio Ruga – Italy
  • Frank Nicolas Carreno – Colombia
  • Matthieu Gandolfi – France
  • Gediminas Grinius – Lithuania
  • Christof Grossegger – Austria
  • Gorge Heimann – Germany
  • Michal Kovac – Slovakia
  • Sproule Love – USA
  • Mateusz Marunowski – Poland
  • Matjaz Miklosa – Slovenia
  • Jakob Mayer – Austria
  • Mickael Pourcelot – France
  • Stephane Ricard – France
  • Christian Riedl – Germany
  • Soh Wai Ching – Malaysia
  • Stefan Stefina – Slovakia
  • Alexis Trujillo – Mexico
  • Laurent Vicente – France
  • Simon Wuethrich – Switzerland

 

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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?

lobodzinski-c2a9iancorless-com_c2a9iancorless-com_vwc_vertigo2017

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?

taipei-101-tower

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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