Posts Tagged ‘Shari Klarfeld’

The Empire State Building Run-Up is just a day away and the excitement is building for the biggest race in the tower running calendar.

The 43rd edition of the event is slightly diminished by the absence of Suzy Walsham who has decided not to defend her title, while Italy’s Valentina Belotti, who would have been the hot favourite, is unable to attend due to travel restrictions.

Nevertheless, there’s a strong contingent of athletes set to line up on Tuesday night to claim the coveted crown of ESBRU winner.

Read on to find out who’s who in the elite women’s division at the 2021 edition of the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Cindy Harris
Cindy Harris finishing the Empire State Building Run-Up 2019

Cindy Harris won her first ESBRU title back in 1998, and three more followed in 2000, 2001 and 2003. The fact that she’s still competing at the top of the sport of tower running says everything about what a formidable athlete she is. Incredibly, this will be her 23rd appearance at the ESBRU!

The 2020 US stairclimbing champion set her ESBRU personal best of 12:45 back in 2001. Don’t expect to see a sub 13 minute time at this year’s event, but if Harris can get in around the 13.38 she clocked to take third in 2019, then that will likely be good enough to earn her a fifth ESBRU title.

Shari Klarfeld (USA)

A road runner who competes at 5km and 10km, Shari Klarfeld is the least experienced tower runner on the list – but she’s also one of the most formidable. She typically does just one stair race a year – the Empire State Building Run-Up – and she does it well. Klarfeld was third at the ESBRU in 2015 and again in 2018, and took fourth in 2019.

She’s had some good results at local road races over the past year and a bit, so seems to be in decent shape. Her personal best time at the Empire State Building is 13.43. If she can run another sub 14-minute time then expect to see her back on the podium.

Meg Santanna (USA)
Meg Santanna (second from the right)

Santanna was third at the ESBRU in 2017 with a 13.51 finishing time. But her times at the following two events were considerably slower (14.50 and 14.22 respectively), so who knows which Santanna will show up. With tower runs only recently starting up again in the US, and Santanna absent from them, it’s impossible to say how she might fare on Tuesday night.

She has finished ahead of most of the other athletes on the start list at one race or another, so we expect to see her in the top five and possibly back on the podium.

Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel (Mexico)

The only non-American athlete on the start list, Lopez Pimentel is a highly accomplished stair climber well used to competing at big races. She’s got lots of experience racing in the States, and has been on the podium at Scale the Strat in Las Vegas and the Dallas Vertical Mile. She made her ESBRU debut in 2018 and finished an impressive fourth with a time of 14.17. She ran even faster in 2019 (14.05) and that earned her fifth.

Will be no surprise to see her on the podium this time around and depending how quick the race is a win isn’t completely out of the question either.

Anna Carlson (USA)

Carlson debuted at the ESBRU in 2019 and took seventh in a time of 14.29. Just before the pandemic pulled the rug out from under the 2020 tower running season, she took second at the US stair climbing championship at Scale the Strat, Las Vegas. Only 13 seconds behind Cindy Harris that day, her time indicated she had made serious improvements and had a strong tower running season ahead of her.

She has spent 2021 competing in triathlons, with her last race just earlier this month, so she is in shape for sure. But can she translate triathlon fitness to the demands of the 86 stories of the Empire State Building? A very solid option if you’re picking your podium finishers.

Debbie Officer (USA)

Officer already has a tower run victory under her belt this year. She took a commanding win at the 1,197-step 555 California St. building in San Francisco back in September. That recent stair racing experience will certainly help on Tuesday night, but Officer will need a massive improvement on the 16.04 she clocked at the ESBRU in 2019 if she’s to be in among the top finishers.

Tricia O’Hara (USA)

A well-known stair climber in the USA (although she lives abroad), O’Hara has been racing the ESBRU for a number of years and clocked her personal best 15.36 at the event in 2019. A strong athlete, but unlikely to feature among the top finishers this time around.

Vertity Rees (USA)

Rees took second in an 861-step stair race in Tampa, Florida earlier this month, so is coming into the ESBRU in shape. She clocked a respectable 15.28 on her ESBRU debut in 2019. Imagine she’ll be looking to cut a chunk off that PB, but unlikely to see her competing for the podium.

Olga Starikova (USA)

Another familiar name to anyone who follows US stair climbing, Starikova has been on the circuit for a few years now, with some podium places to her name.

She finished the ESBRU in 2019 in 15.53. With the winner on Tuesday expected to clock sub 14-minutes, or close to it, we don’t anticipate seeing Starikova in the running for the top third of the leaderboard.

Unable to attend

Valentina Belotti (ITA) – unable to travel

Cristina Bonacina (ITA) – injured

Kamila Chomanicova (SVK) – unable to travel

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