Posts Tagged ‘Rich Sirrs’

Singapore has a long tower running history, with the first edition of the Swissotel Vertical Marathon taking place way back in 1987.

Over three decades later and a new group of tower running enthusiasts in Singapore are working to take the sport to new heights.

We caught up with the Towerrunning Association of Singapore to find out a bit more about who’s who in the organisation and what its goals are.

TRUK: Congratulations on getting officially registered earlier this year. Tell us about your plans for the Association and for the sport of tower running in Singapore?

TAS: Singapore is a recognised global hub for air travel, shipping, and finance and it’s our aim that one day it be considered an international hub of tower running. The Towerrunning Association of Singapore has managed to become a focal point of an already thriving underground tower running scene.

There are groups and individuals all over Singapore who are training in their local HDBs (Housing Development Board buildings) who often caught the tower running bug at one of the several high profile races which were (prior to COVID) taking place annually, such as the Swissotel Vertical Marathon, National Vertical Marathon and multiple other local community HDB and charity events.

Thomas Dold at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon 2009

There are many members of our association who have travelled internationally to races in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, USA, Malaysia and more, which makes us one of the most well travelled tower running associations in the world.

We plan to raise the profile of the sport in Singapore, develop a local stable of athletes and race against the best in the region (especially our close friends in the Malaysia Towerrunning Association who are developing their own group of strong athletes). Obviously, we’ll have to wait until the COVID situation improves so that races may open up again.

TRUK: What’s happening right now with TAS? From Instagram it looks like you guys are having regular meet ups and training sessions.

TAS: Since the virus has been brought under control in Singapore we are looking at relaunching our regular training sessions, and planning for future events. We host regular training sessions once a week on Saturdays, and have another training session during the week for the hardcore members who want to do more.

During this period we have to make sure to adhere to certain COVID restrictions still in place which mean we can train in one stairwell with a group of no more than five people, and keep proper social distancing measures.

Singapore is blessed with having ample training grounds for tower runners. To understand why, we have to go back a little in history. Prior to 1960, Singapore’s landscape was predominately low-rise, as local villages known as kampungs made up of wooden single houses known were the norm.

However, in 1961 after the largest fire in Singapore’s history gutted an entire kampung leaving 16,000 homeless, the Singapore government vowed to transform public housing with the establishment of the Housing Development Board, or HDB.

The end result is that Singapore went vertical, building thousands of high-rise concrete buildings in which 80% of Singaporeans live today. Many of these HDB buildings are 40 floors or higher with open stairwells, offering the ideal place to train. In fact Singapore has over 10,000 HDB blocks of over 10 storeys which people can use to stair train.

We’re lucky that we have access to multiple 40/50 storey HDB blocks (130m) and even a 69-floor private condo block to train (220m). We don’t think there are many training groups around the world who have such easy access to these high-rise buildings.

As we continue to train, we look to increase our membership and build more awareness toward our sport. We often see random people train on stairs when we train at different locations. Many are not aware of our Association, so we’d like to reach out and encourage them to join.

Singapore also has a large population of runners and sports enthusiasts of all kinds, and we hope to entice some to cross over to the world of tower running. Although tower running in general remains a niche sport, we hope to change that perception.

Back to our latest plans. We recently did a few time trial events that were successful and look to do more in the future. We also have the year end coming up and may do another Christmas climb which proved to be popular last year. We also have our AGM coming up in the spring next year.

TRUK: Tell us a bit about who’s who in the Towerrunning Association of Singapore

TAS: We have 13 founding Association members who come from all nationalities and backgrounds. Just to name a few, our President Eddie Tan is a seasoned veteran with 10+ years of tower running experience and many international races under his belt.

SC Tan, our Secretary, has been a dedicated stair climber for 10+ years as well. We have Michele Tan, one of the fastest female tower runners in Malaysia, Rich Sirrs, former UK number one who moved to Singapore a few years back, and Mateusz Dolata from Poland.

Charles Supapodok, an American, started stair climbing late in life but competes internationally and has posted some fast times recently. Mark Budweciz is an Aussie who has placed well in regional competitions so far. Kai Peng, our Association’s treasurer is the youngest in our group, but is a rising star.

Our remaining founding members came to know one another through regular tower running sessions. They too shared the same desire as the rest of us in promoting this sport further.

TRUK: How’s Singapore’s race calendar looking for 2021? Will you guys have events on over there?

TAS: So far it doesn’t look like there will be any events in 2021 until the COVID situation improves. Singapore moved into its Phase 2 reopening on June 19th, where it remains today. Phase 3 would increase the size for group activities from 5 to 8, but this does not seem enough to allow for races to resume. For the time being we don’t see any races happening in 2021, unfortunately. ■

You can keep up to date with the Towerrunning Association of Singapore on Instagram and Facebook.

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NSPCC Gherkin Challenge winners final

Rich ‘Beyond Human’ Sirrs is the fastest UK stair climber on the circuit. He first blew onto the UK tower running scene in 2015 after a successful run of results while working in China. The Hull native caught the tail end of the inaugural UK Tower Running championship that year, and managed to set two British records in the process – at the Gherkin and the Heron Tower.

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In May 2016 he set a new British record at the Broadgate Tower and then departed our shores once again, this time heading for Singapore. We caught up with Beyond Human to see what he’s been up to since he left. Read on to find out how a grip strengthener and training alongside the best in the world have transformed him.

TRUK: We haven’t seen you racing in the UK for a while now – where have you been and what’s going on?

RS: I moved over to Singapore in June 2016 and haven’t had a chance to get back over to the UK yet. I’m living and working here with my girlfriend and really can’t say enough good things about the place. Plenty of training opportunities and chock-a-block with sports facilities – I have two Olympic sized pools within five minutes walk of my house! I’ve taken some time out from stair racing in 2017 and trained for my first aquathlon. I’ve enjoyed mixing it up and also seeing some benefits from adding swimming to my training. I’ve recently raced another aquathlon and ended up with podium place in my category, so quite pleased with that as my swim is still a little pedestrian.

My last race in the UK was at Broadgate Tower in May 2016 where I finished second behind an inform David Robles. I’ve seen there have been some close, competitive battles in my absence and I’d like to get involved in those races.

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Beyond Human salutes a victory in 2015 from the top of the winner’s podium

TRUK: So, how is training going?

RS: I’ve been suffering with shin and Achilles injuries from running for a couple of years now and I’ve made the commitment to try and injury proof my body with a regimen of strengthening and balance exercises, plus some custom orthotics, and so far it seems to be going in the right direction.

I’ve been doing a fair bit of trail running out here, and even managed to win a trail race in Malaysia earlier in the year, despite only being able to put down 10-15km a week running for the six months before it (lots of stairs and swimming though). Further proof stair climbing is a great way to maintain/enhance fitness.

I’ve been listening to podcasts when I’m open water swimming here at the beach in Singapore (big recommendation to swim and get MP3 on) usually Tim Ferriss or Joe Rogan and usually sports or nutrition related. Anyways I came across this guy called Pavel Tsatsouline and he was talking about strength training and how all the muscles can be recruited to fire together to greatly increase strength of a movement. For example, you can grip harder if you flex your glutes at the same time! It’s called muscle irradiation and it got me thinking that perhaps it could be an important factor in stair racing where you are literally powering up the stairs and firing so many muscles at the same time. The force you can pull on the rail and how the legs can fire you upwards must be an important factor and I realised then that strength training must be a key element and was one I was overlooking.

I’ve basically added a range of body weight exercises – chin ups, dips, press ups, leg raises…and grip training using bar and also a sprung grip trainer. I’m trying to give myself a more stable and efficient movement base to increase the force I can recruit to power myself up the stairs, but also to try and move and run more efficiently.

I was actually told all of this in 2014 by an inspirational P.E teacher and former Valencia CF (when they were good) strength and conditioning coach during my time as an English teacher in Northern Spain, but at the time I didn’t act upon his advice.

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TRUK: You’ve been training with Tomas Macecek (Czech stair climber, current world number 7) and Suzy Walsham (reigning ladies tower running world champion) out in Singapore. How has it been training with the world’s best?

RS: I took Suzy and Tom on my stair running tours of Singapore. It’s basically a 5km loop of Singapore CBD, which takes in 4 or 5 open access buildings of varying height 150-225m, with a variety of stairwells. We run to a building, ascend, come down in the lift, run to the next building, and repeat.

We go at a steady pace, not killing each other but also not slow. The key thing I noted from following them up was how stable and compact they looked in the stairs. There was an assuredness to their movements. No energy was being wasted hopping around or flailing arms around the corner. It just looked compact and stable and the turns were tight and controlled.

Tom is more of a power walker and seems to sort of sit into his stride. I’ve seen something similar in videos of the Colombian stair climber Frank Carreno (current world number two). I’m guessing that lowering the pelvis helps recruit more glute to the movement. Try it next time you walk up stairs, it feels weird but you feel kinda powerful as you stride up. Anyways I was running behind Tom, but still having to work pretty hard to keep up even though he was walking.

Suzy employs a technique where she has real quick feet as she ascends the stairs and then sort of takes a mini rest on the stairwell, which involves lifting the head slightly and opening the lungs up and then popping her head back down and whipping around the turn to do the rapid feet again up the next flight.

I don’t think we are anywhere near understanding what is the best way to climb stairs, however I’m personally starting to transition my training away from a bouncy run style to a more compact rail heavy walk which whips around the corners. I call this the ‘German style’ – Christian Riedl, Görge Heimann, Ralf Hascher all have a similar style to this, in my opinion.

Beyond Human

Beyond Human: Sirrs was profiled in a Chinese magazine in 2015.

TRUK: What does your training look like at the moment?

RS: On weekends I train in the local ‘council flats’ – 50 floors/160m or so I think. I have a left turning and right turning stairwell (my left is always slower – in fact at balls out I’m about 15 seconds slower on left turning than right. The only left turning race I’ve won is Heron Tower, and it wasn’t by very much.)

  • I start with 4 x 50 floors steady.
  • Then it’s onto 10-floor sprints up to the 50th. I’m looking for around 45 seconds to complete the sprint and another 45 seconds recovery. I’m using these more to develop my coordination and feel for the stairs rather than endurance so I don’t pay too much attention to recovery time.
  • Once a month or so I try to do a vertical km in this building, taking it easy but looking for the volume.

I will also do a lot of lunch time sessions during the week in my 36-floor office building:

  • 2 x 36 floors at a tempo pace, which is a steady pace that feels fairly quick but isn’t a full gas effort. This stairwell has very runnable stairs, which actually allow ‘aerobic stair running’. Basically I mean I can ascend and keep HR around 150 and still maintain a run. Not easy to do in most stairwells as it’s just too bloody hard on the body.
  • 2×10-floor sprints with recovery between sprints. 10 floor sprints are for me more about getting used to moving fast in the stairs and practising the coordination which it takes to move quickly without falling over. It definitely hurts, but for me the real pain comes in a 20-floor sprint, as you need time to get into that pain zone (it usually kicks in at around 16 floors). I’m not using 10 floor sprints to build endurance. It’s about coordination of hands and feet to whip around the turns. I don’t think the movements are easy and they take a lot of practice.
  • 20 floors steady + 16 floors surge. I recently introduced a training run where I take 20 floors at the tempo pace and then push for the last 16 floors. This hurts big time and helps to strengthen the mind to take on this zone when it inevitably arrives during a race. I started doing this after reading your article on Terry Purcell.
  • I also do a monthly vertical km here, too. Ascending seven times at a steady pace (around five minutes per climb). The idea here is to build some strength.

 

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“I could get used to this!” Sirrs embraces the perks of being a champion

TRUK: Do you do anything for recovery? How about diet and nutrition?

RS: I love eating too much, especially here in Singapore – got to be the world’s best place for food. Get anything you can imagine, all pretty well priced and eat outside every night. I consider my race weight to be around 70kg, but I’ve put on a little muscle recently since the strength training, so up that a couple of kilos.

I realise weight is a key factor in heaving yourself up the stairs and I’ve seen there is a trend for the top guys to drop weight. Some were definitely more bulky and muscular looking a few years ago and seem to have improved their times by trimming down.

It’s probably a place I can get some improvements in, but I lack a little will power when it comes to food! One thing i’ve started taking is probiotics. I suffered for three years with a recurring problem with yeast infections and gut problems. I put it down to training too much, which maybe was stressing the body and lowering my immune system. I started taking probiotics and it cleared up almost immediately and hasn’t come back.

TRUK: Can we expect to see you back in the UK anytime soon for a race?

RS: Not anytime soon!

TRUK: Where the f**k are the OPSRC (Orchard Park Stair Running Club) lads??

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To Hull and Back: the successful Orchard Park Stair Running Club (l-r) Michael “The Rampart” Johnston, Lawrence “Bleed ’em” Needham, Daniel “Beast Mode” Sirrs, Rich “Beyond Human” Sirrs and manager Paul “Toolbox” Spivey.

RS: I know mate, don’t get my started!!! I’m considering withdrawing their OPSRC membership. We cant have Total Motion Tower Runners as the best team in the UK! That keeps me up at night sometimes.

My bro (Daniel Sirrs) moved to Canada this year, hopefully we’ll see him in a U.S/Canada race in 2017! We have talked about doing a U.S trip in 2017 or 2018. I’m thinking Las Vegas race (Scale the Strat) could be good! We’ll have a good battle with West Coast Labels and Total Motion coming up soon and I expect it might be close! Imagine that, cross country style scoring format. That would be fun.

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The UK’s Rich “Beyond Human” Sirrs stormed to victory in the latest installment of the International Vertical Marathon Series in Guangzhou, China.

The five-race series takes in some of the tallest buildings in the region and culminates in a premium race at Canton Tower in October.

Beyond Human salutes his victory from the top of the winner's podium

Beyond Human salutes his victory from the top of the winner’s podium

Representing the Hull-based Orchard Park Stair Racing Club, Sirrs took victory in a time of 6.20, with his nearest rival in the 45 floor race coming in ten seconds behind. It was “sweet revenge” for Beyond Human, who had finished behind his rival at a race last January at Canton Tower.

“I could get used to this!” Sirrs embraces the perks of being a champion

“The race went well”, said Sirrs, “The stairs were steep, but I managed to run them all and felt really good until around floor 37.” The British athlete, who is currently living and training out in China, and has been one of our top stair climbers for the last few years, believes he is hitting some good form of late: “So far competition’s going well this season. I’ve won a mountain marathon and now have this victory, with another five races coming up over the next month and a half.”

The rich vein of form is timely as Beyond Human is likely to go up against the reigning Chinese champion at a race in Shenzen in a few weeks.

Congratulations to Sirrs and best of luck for those upcoming races.