Posts Tagged ‘Sonja Shakespeare’

David Harris says he will ‘enjoy every painful minute’ as he prepares for the World Championship race at Taipei 101 on Saturday.

Harris is in Taipei with fellow Team GB athlete Sonja Shakespeare, with the pair the only British representatives at the championship.

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‘I did the Taipei race last year, so at least know what to expect,’ said Harris, who is hoping to beat his 2017 finishing time of 18 minutes.

‘I’m feeling pretty relaxed and fit. I’ve not done quite as much training as I’d hoped but have stayed injury free and feel in pretty good shape for the race.’

It’s been a solid start to 2018 for Harris. He kicked off the UK race season with a second-place finish at Broadgate Tower, followed quickly by a top-five placing at the competitive Beetham Tower Run in Manchester.

He then pulled off an historic achievement in March, winning two London races just hours apart. The first at the Walkie Talkie Building saw Harris impressively dip under the coveted five-minute mark.

His second victory was at Broadgate Tower, where he set a new PB of 4.55, beating Slovakia’s Patrik Schneidgen in the process.

Having traveled to high-profile races around the world multiple times, including La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in March, Harris is no stranger to elite-level international competition.

The Briton is all too aware of the vastly different challenge posed by Taipei 101, compared with UK towers.

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David Harris at the finish line of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2018

‘[The Taipei 101 Run Up 2017] was without doubt the toughest stair race I’d done at that point. I definitely went out too fast and remember getting to around floor 30 feeling pretty awful and thinking “I’ve still got 60 odd floors to go!”

‘In terms of goals for this race, my primary aim is to beat my time from 2017. The male field is undoubtedly one of the highest quality fields ever assembled, as you’d expect for a world champs. As such to even get near to the top 30 would be a massive achievement for me. Being familiar with the fabled steepness of the course will hopefully help. The ‘sprint’ race will add a different dynamic, though,’ said Harris.

‘I’ll be giving it my best shot and will be leaving it all in the stairwell. I’m looking forward to the event hugely and aim to enjoy every painful minute!’

Shakespeare ready for ‘a hard race’

Alongside Harris, Sonja Shakespeare has the most international race experience of all UK tower runners, including runs this year at Rondo 1 in Warsaw and the Eiffel Tower.

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And like her GB team mate, she has had an excellent start to the domestic season; two wins, at the Beetham Tower Run in February and the Broadgate Tower in March, plus three second-place finishes at St George’s Tower in Leicester and the Walkie Talkie and Leadenhall Buildings in the City of London.

But the course record-holder for London’s Gherkin Building admits to feeling ‘nervous’ ahead of her World Championship debut. Why?

‘Mainly because I’ve heard how hard this race is. All stair races are hard so it’s difficult to gauge what ‘hard’ is. But when a number of top stair runners tell you ‘it’s a hard race’, I feel I need to respect this one,’ Shakespeare said.

‘As a result my training has stepped up this year ready for this race but the last two weeks I have been focused more on recovery due to an ankle and calf injury.’

‘Today I’m as ready as I can be so I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow morning. Having a short race first will be a good test of my fitness before the long race.
My individual goal is to make it to the top knowing I’ve given all I have. There is a good quality field racing so I have no expectations of a finishing position, but my finishing time will only be a consequence of my hard work.’

The tower running World Championship starts at 12.30 BST on Saturday at Taipei 101, Taiwan.

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Sonja Shakespeare set a new women’s course record at the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge event in London last Sunday (22 Oct).

One of the rising stars of UK stair climbing, Shakespeare shattered the existing record by over 30 seconds to set a new time of 6.03 and continue her success in 2017.

She was challenged strongly by the in-form Sarah Frost who set off 45 minutes after in a later wave of runners. Frost was coming in to the race off the back of two strong wins at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in September and Spinnaker Tower earlier this month. She also managed to blow past the previous course record, finishing a mere second behind Shakespeare in 6.04.

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Sonja Shakespeare celebrates with Sarah Frost (l) and fellow Total Motion Towerrunners teammate Chiara Cristoni (r)

‘I actually enjoyed the race’ said Shakespeare. ‘I was really quite nervous before, which is normal for me, although I was confident in what I needed to do and stayed completely in control during the climb.’

A relative newcomer to the sport, she has been chopping away at her PBs constantly in 2017, improving from event to event.

‘I’ve been improving, but I’ve also had some really bad races where I completely blew up on the stairs. It’s the most painful thing ever and I’ve learnt from that. I’m learning with each race.’

With the experience of a number of international races already in the bag, Shakespeare is keen to explore her limits and see exactly what she is capable of in the coming months.

Her next event will be the Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon on 26th November, where she will compete against a lineup of some of the biggest names in the sport.
Mark Sims wins NSPCC Gherkin Challenge 2017

The Gherkin Challenge was the fourth race in the ongoing UK Championship series. Organised by the charity NSPCC, it attracted over 400 competitors, but the battle for overall winner was really a two-man race as reigning UK champion Mark Sims went head-to-head with David Harris. Sims is one of only a handful of people to have completed The Gherkin in under five minutes and was determined to secure another victory following his win at Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth on 8th October.

Two-time UK champion Sims won in a time of 4.43, taking four seconds off the second-place time he set in 2015. A fast improving Harris, who has set a number of impressive PBs in 2017, took second place in 5.15.

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David Harris and Mark Sims on the podium at the Gherkin Challenge 2017

Focus in the UK now turns to the final race of the 2017 UK Championship next month. The Broadgate Tower Run Up takes place on Saturday 25th November at London’s Broadgate Tower. Not only will it feature a double-climb main event, but it also boasts the first ever vertical mile event in the UK – 12 climbs of the 877-step tower! There’s still plenty of time to sign up to the Broadgate Tower Run Up.

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