Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Marsalese’

The Empire State Building Run-Up is just a few days away. Here’s a rundown of the men on the start list for the 44th edition of the event.

Wai Ching Soh (Malaysia)
Soh Wai Ching wins the Empire State Building Run Up 2021

The reigning champ is back to defend the title he won last year with a 10:46 finish. He’s spent the last week warming up with wins at the US Bank Tower in LA and the Space Needle in Seattle, while the earlier part of the year has also been full of victories and new course records at events in Europe, Asia and the USA. Far and away the most active tower runner in this line up, so anything other than a faster win than last year will be a big upset.

Ryoji Watanabe (Japan)
Ryoji Watanabe at Tokyo Tower race 2018

Third in the Vertical World Circuit in 2019, Watanabe is making his debut at the ESBRU. Throughout the VWC he showed himself capable of getting reasonably close to two former ESBRU champions Piotr Lobodzinski and Mark Bourne, so should give a good account of himself.

The last time Soh and Watanabe squared off in the same event was at the 3,398-step Shanghai Tower International Vertical Marathon in November 2019. The Malaysian finished 28 seconds – and one position – ahead of Watanabe in that event to take fifth. Both men have made significant improvements since then, with Watanabe chalking up numerous wins in Japan this year. This really is the clash of the night. Watanabe is well fired up, telling Soh in an Instagram exchange earlier in the week, ‘I’ve been waiting for the day to fight you again!’. Here’s hoping for a close race.

Fabio Ruga (Italy)

The Italian won the European Tower Running Championship in Poland earlier this year and will be making his fourth ESBRU appearance (if he makes it to the start line – TBC). Ruga’s best time at the Empire State Building is the 11:18 that earned him third in 2019, when he was just four seconds behind Wai Ching Soh. He’ll almost certainly need a sub 11-minute finish to win. Although constantly racing in the mountains, Ruga hasn’t had many outings in 1,000+ step buildings lately and that stairwell rust is probably going to have an impact. Hope to see him back on the podium but top spot might be a stretch.

Sproule Love (USA)

One of the all-time great American stair climbers, Love made his debut at the ESBRU all the way back in 1999. He’s been on the podium in New York a number of times over the years, most recently finishing third in 2018. His times at the ESBRU have varied quite a lot recently, ranging from a blistering 11.15 in 2016 to a 12.35 last year that was good enough to earn him fourth.

If he can bring back that sub 12-minute form this year, we might see an American on the podium again. But keeping up with the top visiting international athletes all the way to the 86th floor will be a tall order for The Ghost. Chance of a top five finish again for Love this year we reckon, but he’ll have to be on top of his game to ensure he holds off enough of the European challengers.

Görge Heimann (Germany)

Heimann made his one and only ESBRU appearance back in 2016, where he clocked a very respectable 12:20 to finish sixth. He won the German Tower Running Cup this year so is evidently in good shape. Imagine he’ll be hoping to finish around the lower 12-minute mark again this time and fingers crossed he manages it and it’s enough for another top-six finish.

Omar Bekkali (Belgium)

The Belgian policeman has raced three times at the ESBRU and has a PB of 11:53, which earned him second place in 2018 behind Frank Nicolas Carreno. He was a bit slower in 2019 (fifth in 12:12) and then couldn’t make the 2020 race. Highly active in years gone by, but has been largely absent from the scene this year. Not had his attendance confirmed, but if he does race it will be a case of wait and see what sort of shape he’s in once the race is over. Would be good to see some Euro athletes in the top five, so we’ll have fingers crossed Bekkali comes in fit.

David Roeske (USA)

Roeske has made six ESBRU appearances, debuting in 2015. His time each year has hovered around the 12 and a half minute mark, although last year he clocked a slightly slower 12:44 to take fifth. If everyone on the start list turns up, that sort of time probably won’t be fast enough to earn fifth again.

Best of the rest

Troy Alston – a spread of wins in the US saw Alston surge to third in the world rankings earlier this year. Highly accomplished at sprint and long-distance climbs, he’ll be looking to make an impact on his ESBRU debut.

Josh Duncan – the 2018 USA Stair Climbing Champion is well familiar with the 1,576 steps of the Empire State Building. He ran 13.31 at the 2019 event but an understandably slower 14:21 last year.

Mark Ewell – another successful American tower runner, with a good 13.26 PB at the ESBRU.

Mark Henderson – finished in an impressive 12.52 in 2019 and will surely be happy to chop any time off that this year.

Cole Hetzel – he’ll be the youngest man in the lobby of the Empire State Building but definitely one to watch. He debuted at the ESBRU last year after bagging a lottery entry and finished in 14:37. He subsequently went on to win Bop to Top in Indianapolis in January and then came second (third overall, with Wai Ching Soh winning the race) at the USA Stairclimbing Champs at Scale the Strat, Las Vegas a few weeks later. He’ll be looking to clock something much faster than last year’s time.

Josh Jackett – making his long overdue ESBRU debut this year, Jackett is the man behind the excellent Stair Life, the leading website for all things stair climbing related in the USA. A handy tower runner himself, he’s had a win and podium finish this year. No idea how he’ll fair in NYC, but hoping he has a great race.

Jason Larson – a strong athlete with tons of stair racing experience and wins around the States. Has dipped under the 13 minute mark a couple of times at the ESBRU and will be looking for more of the same tonight.

Stephen Marsalese – The Beast from the East made his ESBRU debut way back in 1996 and has clocked up 25 appearances in total. He’ll be looking to chop some time off the 14:40 he posted last year and get his finishing time back down closer to 14:00. He’ll no doubt be bolstered by the win he secured at the Corning Tower in Albany, NY last month.

Martin Pederson – the Danish athlete had to skip the Elite race last year due to travel restrictions. This year his Elite invite was pulled but he’s bagged a place in the Open. If he doesn’t get bumped up to the Elite wave, hopefully he’ll get a clear run in the Open. He clocked 13:11 in his debut in 2019, but admits to not being as good shape this year so will probably be very happy with a sub 14-minute finish.

There was a five-race extravaganza in the USA this past weekend, with climbs happening in L.A., Sacramento, Little Rock, Boston and Alexandria, VA.

The tallest climb of the weekend was the popular Fight For Air event at the AON Center in downtown Los Angeles. Some familiar names from the ranks of the West Coast’s elite climbers were decked out in their sleeveless, dri-fit finery as they prepared to tackle the 1,393 steps.

Building on an impressive placing at the Strat last month was the super-speedy John “Renegade” Osborn, who took the overall win with in a time of 8:39. Just behind him was “The Widowmaker” Jeff Dinkin, who took an impressive 23 seconds off his previous best time while finishing in 9:01. In third place was the “The Irvine Berzerker” Chris Whitney (9:10).


The rapid “Renegade” in full flow at a past event

There were some fast times among the ladies on the day too with Julie-Rae “The Step Slayer” Steinmeyer taking victory in the women’s section in a time of 10:25, with “The Eternal Blossom” Veronica Stocker (10:53) taking second and “The Chosen One” Lisa Zeigel rounding out the podium in third (12:38).

"Excuse me Lisa, what time is it?" " IT'S ZEIGEL TIME BABY!!!"

“Excuse me ma’am, do you have the time please?” ” IT’S ZEIGEL TIME, BABY!!!”

Saturday also saw climbers in Sacramento taking on the 612 steps of the Wells Fargo Center for the American Lung Association. Quickest on the day there was “Dr. Jekyll” Robert Hyde, evidently transforming into some sort of beast when he enters a stairwell, who took the win in 5:06. Just four seconds behind him was Vadim “The Elevator Racer” Koval, with Joseph “Joey Nuts” Robles taking third.

Taking the top spot in the women’s section was America “the Beautiful” Whalen with Catherine “Eat Your Damn Greens” Velez coming in second. These two speedsters were the only women on the day to go sub-6 minutes. Zoooom!!! Yayoi “Woman of the Wind” Whetstone took bronze.

The final set of Saturday results from the USA come from Little Rock, Arkansas where steppers headed to the War Memorial Stadium. We’re not entirely sure what the format there was but we do know that Sheila “The Glove” Fitts was the fastest lady and “Drive By” Andrew Cyrus was the overall winner.


Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium

There was also an event in Slovakia on Saturday, with climbers taking on the 21 floors of the European Business Centre. At the time of writing we were unable to access the results, but we believe “The Zilina Avalanche” Tomas Celko took second. There is a race video, with various clips from the build up and awards ceremony, on YouTube, which you can watch here.

On Sunday there was a climb in Boston, at One International Place, where two of the biggest names from the East Coast went head-to-head in the battle for top spot. Continuing his brilliant start to the season and adding another victory to his name was “The Stringer of Orpheus’ Harp” Adam Cellemme. He managed to push “The Beast from the East” Stephen Marsalese into second. Both these guys have had a really good season so far, and we’re really enjoying watching the growing rivalry between the New Yorkers and the Bay Staters. It’s getting like the Bloods and the Crips up in those parts. Tense!!

The weekend’s final race was in Alexandria, VA where the showcase event was the double climb, during which competitors took on two rounds of the building’s 28 floors. Fastest on the day was well-known climber Michael “The Sword of the Stairwell” Karlin who completed his two climbs in a mere 4:41. Very fast climbing there from the Tower Masters athlete.


“The Sword of the Stairwell” cuts through another flight on his way to victory

Congratulations to all who took part and best of luck to those racing this coming weekend.

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It was a busy, busy time in the stair running world this past weekend with three events on Saturday 21 Feb and four events on Sunday 22 Feb happening around the world.

Over in Omaha, Nebraska, course record holder Ivan “The Phantom” Marsh took the win at the 9th Trek Up The Tower, clearing the 870 steps of the First National Tower in a speedy 4:41. He was pushed hard by Ryan “King Kong” Long in a time of 4:54, with the pair clocking the only sub-5 minute times of the day. The impressive Nikki “Whispering Buffalo” Perry was the fastest female, taking a top ten finish at the same. Fist pump to Nikki!!

Up in Minneapolis it was all go at the 8th Fight For Air Climb at the US Bank Plaza. To be honest, we can’t quite make sense of the preliminary results but you can have a look here if you like and try to figure it out. Well done to all who took part anyway.

In Hannover, Germany there were nine people taking on the gargantuan task of a vertical marathon!!! This involved climbing and descending a stairwell 194 times for a total of 41,904 steps (up only). The “winner” (they’re all winners, seriously) finished in 11hours and 38minutes. Here is a brief video from the event. We’re not so sure what is being said, but these guys look tough as nails and at 0:46 you will also see probably the shortest shorts ever made in the history of global textile production. Yes stair climbing is serious business, but who says we can’t look sexy while we do it? Am I right??

Sunday saw one of the biggest events in the United States stair running calendar, as racers gathered at the John Hancock Centre in Chicago for the 18th Hustle Up the Hancock. Powering up the 1632 stairs in first place was Eric “Veritas” Leninger, with a semi-mind bogglingly speedy time of 9:51. In hot pursuit was distance running coach Dan “The Vision” Walters in 10:12, with stair running legend Jesse “Ice” Berg filling the podium in 10:40. With Leninger pipping Walters at the Fight For Air Climb in Oakbrook a few weeks back too, their burgeoning rivalry will be something to follow over the coming year. Unfortunately Justin Stewart took ill before the race and had to pull out. This is a real shame as his inclusion would have added a very interesting element to the proceedings.

The women’s side of the race was dominated by some familiar names as “The Phenom” Cindy Harris added another win to her record, finishing in 11:44. Just three seconds behind in 11:47 was Liz “The Punisher” Ruvalcaba. Liz is the girlfriend of Eric Leninger; talk about a Power Couple. Love birds be getting things DONE!!

We can’t quite fathom that third place may actually be just 14 years old, but the results suggest that Brett “The Bullet” Chody is just that. Her sub-13 minute time of 12:25 is a bit of a revelation. If she stays in the sport, we can certainly expect to see her name topping race results in the future, for sure. Congratulations Brett, we are humbled!!

Of course the essence and appeal of stair running isn’t about times or results. It’s about guts, not quitting, camaraderie and pushing through. This is all on show in this video that shows a guy called Mark Block setting a PB, cheered on by his friend Karen Geninatti. This is pretty awesome!!

In Philadelphia, runners took to the 53 stories of the BNY Mellon Bank Center for the 28th Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Climb. The Tower Masters (and West Coast Labels team members) stayed true to their name as legend Stephen “The Beast from the East” Marsalese took the men’s top spot in a clean 7minutes flat, with fellow team member Sally “Phoenix” Kalksma taking the ladies win (and 7th overall) in 9:35.

Stephen Marsalese and Sally Kalksma toasting their victories

Stephen Marsalese and Sally Kalksma toasting their victories

In Denver, David Roeske took the win at the 10th Fight For Air Climb at the Republic Plaza, with Heather Inglis taking honours in the ladies section.

Stair climbers in Australia got to break in a new stairwell as they tackled the Q1 Tower in Queensland’s Gold Coast, at the inaugural Sea to Sky Stair Climb. Despite stormy weather that threatened to keep some climbers away, the event went off successfully and we are sure the race will be a very welcome addition to Australia’s list of annual climbs. As expected, the phenomenal Mark Bourne took the win fairly handily on the day in 6:45, with Kim Hamilton leading the women in with a time of 10:03. Adam Ryan from Stair Climbing Australia has put together this excellent video, which shows a variety of the elite runners at different times throughout the race. Seeing Mark Bourne still powering away somewhere on the 76th floor is worth checking out. Nice little soundtrack on this one too. Great work!

That wraps up this week’s results. Congratulations to everyone who got out there and took part. Keep climbing!!