Posts Tagged ‘Suzy Walsham’

Suzy Walsham recently sat down for a chat with Ian Deeth and Johnny Tieu from the Unlocking Athletic Potential podcast and it’s an excellent discussion that’s well worth your time listening to.

In it Suzy discusses her athletics career from child star to Commonwealth Games, her transition to tower running in late 2006, her love of training, her Red Bull 400 experiences and plenty more.

Suzy’s given a few print and podcast interviews before, but the Unlocking Athletic Potential crew do a great job of digging a bit deeper into her career and training, so there are definitely things in this interview you won’t have heard before.

There’s no fluff in the chat and it helps that the knowledgeable interviewers are already well familiar with the sport of tower running and know their stuff when it comes to fitness and training. It makes for a really informed and interesting discussion.

You can listen to the whole conversation on the Unlocking Athletic Potential podcast.

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Whether you go back to Sheila Duncan running as the only woman in the 1968 BT Tower race in London or admire the incredible ongoing career of Cindy Harris, women have been at the heart of competitive tower running since the sport’s very beginning.

Women’s tower running has come a long way since the earliest stair races at the start of the 1900s.

1903 and 1905

On the left is the unnamed winner of the women’s division at the Montmartre stair race in 1903. On the right is Mme. Baube, winner of the 1906 Eiffel Tower stair race.

This International Women’s Day we take a quick look at just a handful of some of the brilliant women who have played a key role in the sport.

Marcy Schwam

First ESBRU

Schwam (above wearing #11) was already an ultra-running pioneer before she turned up at the first Empire State Building Run-Up in 1978. Only three women took part in the inaugural event. She was the first woman to reach the top and although she never returned to race on the stairs again, she has the honour of being the first woman to win a stair race in the USA.

After the first ESBRU, Schwam went on to set multiple long distance records and is still running now.

Nina Kuscsik

kuscsik 1980

Like Schwam, Nina Kuscsik was also a pioneer of women’s participation in running events. She campaigned for equal participation for women at the marathon distance and in 1972 she won the New York and Boston marathons.

Kuscsik went on to to win three ESBRU titles from 1979-1981. She would return to the tower multiple times, racing well into her 70s.

2009 Nina Kuscsik

You can read more about Kuscsik in her NYRR Hall of Fame entry

Cindy Harris

Cindy Harris tower running

The incredible tower running career of the 2020 USA stairclimbing champion Cindy Harris is one of our favourite parts of the ongoing story of this sport.

Harris has been winning races, sometimes outright ahead of all competing men as well, at the top level for 25 years.

1998 purcell and moll

Cindy Harris after winning her first ESBRU title in 1998

In 2003, she became the first woman to secure four wins at the Empire State Building Run-Up. She has also amassed an unbelievable 25 wins at the Bop to the Top race in her hometown of Indianapolis, with the most recent victory coming at the start of the year.

Andrea Mayr

2006 Mayr wins

Three-time winner and course record holder at the ESBRU, six-time world mountain running champion and two-time Olympian, Andrea Mayr is one of the best athletes to have ever competed in the discipline of tower running.

The Austrian doctor has dipped in and out of the scene since the early 2000s, but she has left her mark with a series of stunning performances over the years, including a record-breaking run at Taipei 101 in 2005 and victory at the Towerrunning World Championship in 2015.

Andrea Mayr 2015 Towerrunning World Championship

Andrea Mayr winning the 2015 Towerrunning World Championship

You can read more about her in our article, Where is Andrea Mayr? On the trail of one of the world’s greatest athletes.

Suzy Walsham

Suzy Walsham la vertical de la tour eiffel

The name Suzy Walsham is now synonymous with tower running. In a glittering 14 year career that shows no sign of letting up, the Australian superstar has won everything there is to win.

The 2018 world championship and 10 ESBRU titles are perhaps the most prominent among her multitude of successes, but there are plenty more aside.

Five wins at Taipei 101, eight Vertical World Circuit titles and nine Towerrunning Tour titles are just a few of the additional accolades she’s secured.

That’s not to mention the brilliant track and field career she had before she turned her attention to stair climbing. You can read about that here (along with her 2007 ESBRU win).

The constant stream of praise for the humility and helpfulness of the most successful tower runner of all-time is further testament to the excellence of this fantastic ambassador for tower running.

walsham VWC 2019

These women, and many, many more besides, have each played their own important role in this sport. We’ve enjoyed researching and writing about each of them over the years and look forward to putting together many more articles about their fantastic achievements and the other incredible women in the world of tower running.

Suzy Walsham la vertical de la tour eiffel

La Verticale de La Tour Eiffel 2020 is just under four weeks away and the excitement is building for the biggest race in the European tower running calendar.

The sixth edition of the event, which takes place on the evening of Wednesday 11th March, has a strong line up of some of the best tower runners in the world. In the women’s division, five-time winner Suzy Walsham is back to defend her title. Alongside her in Paris will be 14 others looking to achieve the seemingly impossible and unseat the Australian.

Read on to find out who’s who in the elite women’s division at the 2020 edition of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

The Eiffel Tower stair race has come a long way from its early beginnings in 1905 and 1906.

MMe Baube

Mme. Baube, winner of the Eiffel Tower stair run in 1906

The latest version of the race began in 2015 and year-on-year it’s packed full of athletic talent from around the world. Just 15 women have been selected to compete in the Elite division at the 2020 edition.

As the only previous winner, Suzy Walsham is always the pre-race favourite in Paris. But this year, due to scheduled renovations on the tower, the format of the event has changed dramatically. Will the new format open the door for a different woman to finally take the crown of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel champion?

The 2020 La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel race format

Instead of the traditional climb to the top of the 1,665-step tower, the new format looks like this:

  • 1st qualifying round – 131 competitors – 665 steps (to the second level)
  • 2nd qualifying round – 131 competitors – 665 steps
  • Final – 30 competitors (20 men, 10 women) – 665 steps

The final will be held in a pursuit format with the fastest athlete from the qualifying rounds setting off first. That pursuit format means positions on the grid will be all important, so expect to see the runners going all out in both qualifying rounds to secure the best spot.

For more details on the new format for 2020, including rest times between rounds, check out our full news story.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel winners and course record

2019 – Suzy Walsham (10:16)

2018 – Suzy Walsham (10:02)

2017 – Suzy Walsham (9:34 – course record)

2016 – Suzy Walsham (9:48)

2015 – Suzy Walsham (9:44)

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

The step count of the altered format makes it difficult to predict who exactly will be among the top finishers come March. There aren’t many 650 to 700-step towers in the world where the top stair climbers have gone head-to-head.

But here’s our rundown of the 15 women selected to race in the Elite division of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2020.

Suzy Walsham – Australia

walsham VWC 2019

The 2018 world champion and current world number one has won every edition of this event since it began in 2015 and it’s difficult to not see her winning this one. But Walsham herself has said numerous times that she’s not a sprinter, so the new format presents a unique challenge for her.

She doesn’t race enough short course events for us to know exactly how she’ll fare. Last year she only did two races that were less than 1,000 steps. The first was Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali in Benidorm, which she won. The other was the 441-step Pyramidenkogel-Turmlauf in Austria. Walsham took second there behind Austrian multi-athlete Veronika Windisch, missing out on top spot by just three tenths of a second.

So despite what she says, Walsham undoubtedly has speed, which you’d expect from a former Australian national champion at 800m and 1,500m who represented her country at the Commonwealth Games.

She got her 2020 season underway at the start of February with a win in Dubai over close rival Valentina Belotti, so she should be heading to Paris full of confidence.

Only two or three women in the elite division would be able to hang with the Australian star over the long course, but naturally a few more can get closer over just 665 steps, so she will absolutely have to be at her best to secure victory. The 2020 edition of La Verticale is unlikely to be the one-sided Suzy Walsham Show that its been since 2015.

She will definitely be on the podium, and we expect her to win, but it won’t be nearly as clear cut as all her previous victories at the Eiffel Tower.

@suzywalsham

Valentina Belotti – Italy

Valentina Belotti 2019

We wrote briefly about the renaissance of Valentina Belotti last year after she set two course records in seven days at the end of August, including a solid win over Suzy Walsham at Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

She also won the Towerrunning Tour Final at the 3,398-step Shanghai Tower in November, once again finishing ahead of Walsham. The 2009 world mountain running champion is well and truly back.

She’s making her La Verticale debut this year so will have to deal with working out the nuances of the staircase for her first run at least.

It’s hard to know how Belotti will do in the sprint event. Expect to see her on the podium, but in what position is anyone’s guess.

Laura Manninen – Finland

Laura Manninen tower running

The Finn, who represented her country at the 2016 European Athletics Championships in the half-marathon, was second behind Walsham in the final rankings of last year’s Vertical World Circuit (VWC). She is one of the emerging forces on the tower running scene.

With a 16:44 PB for 5km and a bunch of sub 34-minute 10km runs to her name, it’s clear Manninen has speed. But with the stages of the VWC held mostly at massive towers, we haven’t had many chances to see how that road running pace translates onto the stairs.

Looking at two of the shortest towers she raced in last year gives us some idea. She was fifth at the 1,037-step Allianz Tower in April, where she finished over a minute behind La Verticale rivals Suzy Walsham and Iwona Wicha. She then finished fourth at Broadgate Tower in July, reaching the top behind Sarah Frost and Anais Leroy who she will also be up against in Paris.

Manninen’s chance of finishing on the podium may well have disappeared with the unanticipated format change. We think there are faster women in the lineup that will leave her in around fourth or fifth place after the final round is run.

Iwona Wicha – Poland

Iwona Wicha tower running

The Polish star made her debut at La Verticale last year and finished in fourth place.

She built on that throughout the rest of the 2019 season with home wins at the 790-step Palace of Culture and Science and the Intercontinental Tower Run (959 steps), both in Warsaw. She also took second at the Sky Tower Run in Wroclaw and fourth at the stacked Allianz Vertical Run in Milan.

Perhaps her best performance came at Rondo 1 in Warsaw in February. There she finished second, ahead of top competitors, and La Verticale rivals, including Valentina Belotti, Ilona Gradus, Sarah Frost and Cristina Bonacina.

She capped the season with 10th at the highly competitive Towerrunning Tour Final at Shanghai Tower (3,398-step Shanghai Tower), where she finished ahead of several of the women she’ll be competing against in Paris.

Of course results in buildings as tall as Shanghai Tower have little bearing on what will happen in a sprint race, but all of Wicha’s 2019 results combine to show an in-form athlete with impressive speed and endurance. It’s no surprise, given that Wicha trains with tower running world champion and five-time La Verticale winner Piotr Lobodzinski, who happens to be her husband.

She’s already got her 2020 season off to winning ways with victory at the 5km City Trail in Warsaw at the start of February. She’ll be heading to Paris full of confidence.

Expect to see her pushing for the podium.

@zyciezpasja

Dominika Stelmach – Poland

Dominika Stelmach La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

Dominika Stelmach won’t be known by many tower running followers, but she will be one of the best athletes in Paris come March.

The Polish ultra runner was silver medalist at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in 2018.

She has also been a force at the Red Bull Wings for Life for the past five years, which involves trying to outrun a Catcher Car for as long as you can. Dozens of these races start at the same time all around the world, and the top athletes compete to see who can outlast their global rivals.

Stelmach has won a Wings for Life event every year since 2015, taking victories in Europe, Australia, Africa and South America. In 2017 she was the overall global winner, running almost 6km further than her nearest rival.

She doesn’t have much experience on the stairs, but when she made her debut at La Verticale in 2017 she finished in second place ahead of far more experienced tower runners.

With a 16:46 PB for 5km we know she also has good speed. She is the real dark horse of this event.

Absolutely no idea how she will get on. Wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her in the top five, but she could well get dropped in the heats as well. Pacing a sprint on the stairs properly takes experience and, super athlete or not, Stelmach doesn’t have that. Very excited to see how she gets on.

@dominika_stelmach_runner

Sarah Frost – Great Britain

Sarah Frost towerrunning

After her La Verticale debut in March last year (she finished 7th), UK number one Frost went on to have her best ever season.

Her standout performance of 2019 was at London’s Broadgate Tower (877 steps) where she smashed the course record to set a new best time of 4:40.

She also raced at multiple international events, and only narrowly missed out on third place overall in the Vertical World Circuit. Other highlights included third at the Pyramidenkogel-Turmlauf, second at VertiGO in Paris and third at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali.

Unfortunately, Frost started the year injured and on crutches and has only just begun slowly getting back into training. Will she be back in fully competitive condition by 11 March? We really hope so. Fingers crossed!

If she is, expect to see her pushing for the top six. If not, she won’t make the final.

@sarahchaneyfrost

Anais Leroy – France

Anais Leroy La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

Still a relative newcomer to the sport of tower running – although a long-time quality runner on the track (3,000m SC) and in cross country – Leroy continues to make an impact when she crosses over onto the stairs. She was fifth on her La Verticale debut in 2018, then missed the 2019 edition despite being selected.

But she was back in action a couple of months later when she took first at the 954-step VertiGO at Tour First in Paris. She then ran sub five-minutes to take third at Broadgate Tower in July in a stacked field of international runners.

Her track speed will serve her well over the 665 steps and we expect to see her pushing for a top-eight finish.

@anais__leroy

Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel – Mexico

Maria Lopez Pimentel

One of the stars of the fast-emerging Mexican tower running scene, Lopez Pimentel has raced at the Eiffel Tower twice and finished in sixth place on both occasions.

She had a very successful 2019 season, including multiple wins and top five finishes. She was winner of the sprint, and second in the vertical mile, at the competitive Dallas Vert Mile event in January, and then second at Scale the Strat in Las Vegas in February.

She won the Mexican Towerrunning Championships in July at Pabellon M Monterrey and followed this up a week later with a win at the 654-step Carrera Vertical UVM Campus Chapultepec.

Her season ended on a high in December with victory at the Carrera Towerrunning WTC (868 steps), which was fully stacked with Mexico’s top tower runners.

If she can carry that form over the short courses into 2020 then she has a solid chance of making the final. If she manages that, then we expect to see her finishing in around sixth, seventh, or eighth place.

@melisapml

Ilona Gradus – Poland

Ilona Gradus

The third Polish athlete in the Elite division, Ilona Gradus is making her La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel debut.

She had an excellent 2019 season and her results were enough to see her finish in sixth place in the Towerrunning World Association rankings.

Among the highlights were a couple of sprint wins at European venues. First she was fastest at the 524-step Atomium Stair Race in Brussels, Belgium back in June. Then she took victory at Bieg Po Schodach Collegium Altum (392 steps) in Poznan, Poland in October.

Other impressive performances included finishing third at the Altus Cup in Poland, second at the UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava (which involves three runs of 430 steps), sixth at Rondo 1 in Poland, and sixth at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali in Benidorm.

She finished the year with a solid win at the Yayasan TM Tower Run (1,296 steps) in Malaysia in November and was then 12th at the Towerrunning Tour Final, finishing ahead of some of her La Verticale rivals.

Will be surprised not to see her in the final, but the top end of the table might be out of reach.

Cristina Bonacina – Italy

Cristina-Bonacina-

Winner of the Towerrunning World Cup in 2011, Bonacina is a highly experienced tower runner with a full spread of wins and podium finishes at venues around the world. She’s well familiar with the Eiffel Tower, too, having raced at the venue four times (2015-17, 2019).

Bonacina had a busy 2019 season, with her results bringing her up to fourth place in the Towerrunning World Association rankings.

Given the strong field of competitors, the Italian will have her work cut out to be in the 10 that proceed to the final. It’s within her capabilities, but she will have to be in top form.

@cristina_bonacina

Amandine Bertrand – France

Amandine Bertrand La verticale de la tour eiffel

Another top French athlete who will be flying the flag for the home nation on March 11th. Bertrand debuted at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in 2018 and took seventh. Last year she finished eighth.

She had a decent 2019 season, finishing 7th at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali, fourth at VertiGO in Paris, and ninth at the Dubai Holding SkyRun.

There are a number of faster women in the line up and Bertrand will be up against it to make the cut off for the final 10. But a return to 2018 form and she will be able to pull it off.

@amandine.20.bertrand

Maria Beltran Toledo – Spain

Maria Beltran Toledo

Another crossover athlete, Beltran Toledo is an excellent trail and mountain runner who is making her debut at the Eiffel Tower.

Although not a regular on the tower running circuit, the Spaniard still has a lot of race experience on the stairs and has proven herself capable of hanging with the top stair climbers a number of times.

She was second at Subida Vertical Grand Hotel Bali in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018. She was also second at the Broadgate Tower Run Up in 2018. Last year she was 11th at the Towerrunning Tour Final.

Her times at Broadgate Tower and Grand Hotel Bali suggest the sprint format in Paris could really suit her.

We think she has a good chance of making the final.

@mariabeltrantoledo

Rosalyn Russell – Philippines

Rosalyn Russell towerrunning

A successful marathoner and trail runner with loads of tower running experience, Russell should be expecting to make the final in Paris.

She was sixth in the final Vertical World Circuit rankings last year.  A seventh placed finish at Allianz Tower in Milan, fifth at One World Trade Center in New York and sixth at the Beijing Vertical Run were among her best results in very competitive races.

But she also took wins at the Fight for Air Climb Miami (648 steps) in March and the Manila Vertical Run (1,353 steps) in September.

Russell ended the year with an impressive ninth at the Towerrunning Tour Final.

If she can carry that form into 2020, she has a chance of making it to the final.

@roserussell101

Laury Eloy – France

Laury Eloy

Another long-distance trail runner crossing over to the stairs, Eloy made her debut at the Eiffel Tower last year. She finished 10th, just behind Cristina Bonacina and Amandine Bertrand.

A lack of experience on the stairs can cause real issues when trying to effectively pace a sprint climb and this might catch Eloy out come March.

We don’t think we’ll see her in the final.

@laury_eloy

Meg Santanna – USA

Unless you’re a US tower runner, or a keen follower of the sport, you might not be familiar with the name Meg Santanna. The American doesn’t tend to race internationally (it’s her La Verticale debut this year), but she is well capable of holding her own against the bulk of the women on this list.

Santanna was third at SkyRise Chicago (2,123 steps) back in November last year, finishing ahead of La Verticale rivals Rosalyn Russell and Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel. She was also third at the USA Stairclimbing Championships 2019 at Scale the Strat, Las Vegas and sixth at the Empire State Building Run-Up.

The Charlotte, NC-based athlete also took first place at the Tunnel to Towers event at the 1,207-step Duke Energy Center in her home city, and was second at the Fight For Air Climb Charlotte (883 steps).

She’s been competing at the top in the States for a few years now. She was second at the USA Stairclimbing Championships in 2017 and third in 2018. She was also third at the Empire State Building Run-Up in 2017.

If the race at the Eiffel Tower was full distance, we’d bank on Santanna finishing well inside the top 10. But the sprint format for this year throws up so many unknowns. It’s hard to predict with any confidence how she’ll fare on her debut.

@meginthequeencity

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Almas Tower Vertical Run 2020

World number ones Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski will kick off their 2020 tower running seasons on Saturday (Feb.1) at the 1,600-step Almas Tower in Dubai.

Poland’s Lobodzinski will have to see off the challenge from world number two Soh Wai Ching (MYS) and Emanuele Manzi (ITA) if he is to secure his fifth win in a row at the 7th tallest tower in Dubai.

Walsham (AUS), who set the course record of 9:21 at the tower last year, will be challenged by the 2018 winner, and former record holder, Valentina Belotti (ITA).

It’s an exciting clash so early on in the season and will give a good insight into how the athletes have fared with their training in the small off-season since they last met in November at the Towerrunning Tour Final at Shanghai Tower.

At that race, Belotti secured her second win over Walsham in 2019, following her record-setting victory at Ostankino Tower, Moscow, in August. Walsham will be keen to get back to winning ways over the Italian, before the pair clash again at the Eiffel Tower in March.

On the line in Dubai will be around £2,000 for the fastest man and the fastest woman.

Dream Team assembled in new relay category

almas-tower-vertical-run

New for 2020 at the Vertical Run Almas Tower is a four person relay race, with each runner taking on 16 floors of the 64-floor tower.

Suzy Walsham, Valentina Belotti, Emanuele Manzi and Soh Wai Ching will combine forces to try and win the £1,000 prize.

Will any foursome in Dubai be able to get close to that tower running Dream Team?

For years Australian tower runners have been among the very best in the world, winning multiple titles and setting untouchable records.

The performance of Aussie athletes at the Empire State Building Run-Up is particularly impressive. From Geoff Case and Belinda Soszyn in the 1990s to Paul Crake and Suzy Walsham throughout the 2000s.

To celebrate the national day (26th January) of the home of these incredible tower runners we’ve put together a video of all the winning Australian athletes at the ESBRU from Craig Logan in 1988 to Suzy Walsham in 2019.

Suzy Walsham Empire State Building Run Up

For the first time since 2010 Suzy Walsham will not attend the Empire State Building Run-Up.

The Australian star, who has remained unbeaten at the ESBRU since 2013, has decided not to compete at the race in May.

It’s somewhat of a surprise announcement from the athlete whose name has become synonymous with the iconic New York race. Since her debut in 2007, Walsham has gone on to become the winningest athlete ever at the venue, taking victory a record 10 times.

But her decision not to compete this year does not come as a complete shock given the close proximity of the Empire State Building Run-Up (Tuesday, May 12) to the Towerrunning World Championships at Taipei 101 in Taiwan (Saturday, May 9).

2007 Walsham wins

Suzy Walsham won on her ESBRU debut back in 2007

The absence of the 2018 world champion and reigning world number one opens the door for a new name, or a familiar one, to enter the ESBRU record books.

Walsham’s closest rivals in recent years have been four-time champion Cindy Moll-Harris (USA) and Laura Manninen (FIN).

With those two also likely to be at the World Championships in Taiwan the weekend before the ESBRU, it is perhaps unlikely they will make the long journey to New York in time for the race.

If that’s the case, it leaves the door open for a completely new name to step in and take the crown. Stephanie Hucko, Shari Klarfeld and Meg Santana, who have all finished on the podium in recent years, will likely be in the mix for top spot on Tuesday, May 12.

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2009 men's start

In 2009, a controversial incident during the start of the ladies race led to one of the greatest comebacks in ESBRU history. In the men’s division, after the anti-climax of 2008, there was a much-anticipated re-run of the showdown between three-time winner Thomas Dold and mountain running star Marco De Gasperi.

If you missed the first installment of this series on the history of the Empire State Building Run-Up covering 1978-1980, you can read it here. Or jump back to 1981-19831984-19871988-19901991-19931994-19971998199920002001200220032004200520062007 or 2008 instead.

Otherwise read on for the next installment in the series and find out what happened at the ESBRU in 2009.

The rivalry continues

Just under three weeks after he won his third ESBRU title, Thomas Dold headed for Milan, Italy, for another showdown with Marco De Gasperi on Sunday 24th February 2008. The venue this time was the 710-step Pirelli Tower, which was hosting its second event.

De Gasperi had won the inaugural event at the tower in 2007 in 3:44. After the disappointment of his fall in the lobby of the Empire State Building Run-Up at the start of February, which had denied him a proper shot at Dold, he was eager to mount a challenge against the German on more familiar territory.

But disaster struck again. Two days before the race De Gasperi picked up an injury that ruled him out.

Even though the pre-race favourite was out, Dold certainly wasn’t guaranteed top spot. With mountain running stars such as Fabio Ruga and Alberto Gramegna on the start list, the young German would still have to work extremely hard for his win. And he did.

Dold reached the top in 3:30, setting a new course record and finishing a massive 14 seconds faster than De Gasperi had the year before.

Dold Pirelli 2008 winner

Thomas Dold crosses the line to set a new course record at the Pirelli Tower, Milan, Italy

Back in Germany

The next big race on the calendar for Dold was the SkyRun Berlin at the 770-step Hotel Park Inn at Alexanderplatz on Whit Monday, 12 May 2008.

He was going for his third win in a row at the tower. In 2007 he had beaten training partner Matthias Jahn by just 0.57 seconds, and with Jahn in attendance once more, Dold would need to be at his very best to secure the triple.

It took a record-breaking performance for him to win. He crossed the line in 3:14.2, with Jahn’s finishing time just 1.8 seconds slower.

BERP1_ParkInn-Berlin-ExteriorView

The Park Inn Hotel in Berlin

Subida Vertical Gran Hotel Bali

Next up was a trip to Benidorm, Spain to race up the 936-step Gran Hotel Bali on Saturday 17 May. Paul Crake had set the course record of 4:35 there back in 2003, at the first edition of the event, a few months after he set the ESBRU record.

Dold took the win in 4:40, trailed by Ignacio Cardona who finished in 4:58.

Dold Benidorm 2008

Greetings from Benidorm: Thomas Dold celebrates his fourth win from four starts in 2008

Less than a week later, on Friday 22nd May, Dold was home in Germany where he was aiming to secure back-to-back wins at the 850-step Stuttgart TV Tower.

He held off the challenge of Matthias Jahn to make it five wins from five starts in 2008.

Dold Stuttgart Tv Tower 2008

Thomas Dold celebrates his win at the Stuttgart TV Tower

Taipei 101 Run-Up 2008

The first three editions of the Taipei 101 Run-Up had been held in November, but in 2008 the race switched to the summer.

At the 2007 edition, Marco De Gasperi had created a shock when he won the prestigious race in his debut year of tower running. On that day he had beaten Dold by 17 seconds.

On Sunday 17 June 2008, the pair were back in Taiwan to do battle again. After the upset the year before, and then the question marks that lingered after the 2008 ESBRU, Dold was determined to make a statement that he was the best tower runner in the world.

He absolutely blitzed the 2,046-step course, becoming one of the only men to have run it in under 11 minutes. His winning time of 10:53 was a massive 46 seconds faster than De Gasperi’s second-place 11:39.

Taipei 101 Run Up Dold

Dold exits Taipei 101

Taipei 101 Run Up Dold4

Taipei 101 Run Up Dold3

Roar power: Dold cries out after winning Taipei 101 Run-Up 2008

Dold wins Taipei 101 Run Up 2008

Still undefeated after six events, 2008 was shaping up to be Dold’s most successful season to date.

Chasing records in Singapore

After a summer breaking his own world records for running 800m (2:31) and 1,000m (3:20) backwards, Dold returned to the stairs on Sunday 16 November to attempt to break the course record at Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore.

The record there had been set way back in 1989 by Balvinder Singh, who had run up the hotel’s 1,336 steps in 6:55.

Thomas Dold Singapore Vert Marathon 2008

Thomas Dold at the start line of the Swissotel The Stamford Vertical Marathon 2008

Dold managed to do what no one else had been able to in 18 previous editions. He shaved three seconds off Singh’s time, crossing the line on the rooftop finish in 6:52. The win earned him a trip to New York and a spot at the 2009 Empire State Building Run-Up.

The 2008 season had been an absolute triumph. Seven races, seven wins and three course records. Dold was in supreme form.

He would head into the Empire State Building Run-Up 2009 full of confidence. And he would need to be at his best, because the lobby in February would be packed full of talent.

Suzy Walsham: racing as a two-time champion

Also at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon was two-time ESBRU champion Suzy Walsham. Like Dold, she too had been enjoying a successful season up until that point

After securing her second Empire State Building Run-Up title in February, Walsham returned to her adopted home of Singapore and spent the rest of the year competing in road races in Asia.

In June, the Australian athlete took part in the Anlene Orchard Road Mile in central Singapore.

Walsham, who had won the inaugural race in 2007, retained her title with a speedy 4:39 finish.

walsham Orchard Mile winner 2008

Suzy Walsham (third from the left) celebrates winning the 2008 Anlene Orchard Mile

Walsham upped the distance to 10km the following month, as she lined up for the Shape Run in Singapore on Sunday 20 July. She clocked 35:18 to take first place.

On Sunday 10 August, she was in Bali, Indonesia, for another 10km road race. She put in another mammoth performance to set a new PB of 34:11 and take second place.

juara-bali-10-k-putri-k5d31p-prv

Walsham with the rest of the top 5 women at the Bali 10km

In October the action returned to Singapore for the Great Eastern Women 10km event.

Walsham would be up against pre-race favourite Anintha Kiptum of Kenya, who held a 32:12 PB.

Although it was actually a slower race than anticipated, both women pushed themselves to the limit and paid for their exertions at the finish line.

Kiptum finished in 34:55, but collapsed shortly after and was later hospitalised.

Walsham followed 20 seconds later in 35:15, and was also in bad shape.

Walsham stagger

An exhausted Suzy Walsham begins to stagger at the finish line of the Women 10km

Walsham stagger 2

Supported by her partner David and a race official, Walsham is led away to the medical tent

Finishing the season on a high

Walsham was going for her third straight win at the Swissotel Vertical Marathon in November, the event at which she’d made her tower running debut in 2006.

Swissotel Vertical Marathon 2008

She duly came away with another win, reaching the rooftop finish in 8:19. Like Dold, she would now be heading back to New York to defend her title in February, 2009.

Her final race of 2008 was the Singapore Half Marathon on Sunday 7 December. Walsham put in a brilliant run to win in 1:17:42.

3112080384_e0b8d10ced_o

walsham singapore half marathon 2008

Suzy Walsham crosses the line to win the 2008 Singapore Half Marathon

The 2008 season had been an excellent display of athletic diversity by Walsham. She typically stayed away from longer distance races, because with her history of stress fractures and calf strains she feared the training volume required would take too heavy a toll. But she had pushed herself into running up to half-marathon distance and been rewarded for her hard work.

Still a relative newcomer to tower running, Walsham had barely focused on the stairs at all throughout the 2008 season. She was obviously in excellent shape, but would she be able to transfer that flat-level speed to the stairwell when she headed back to Manhattan to defend her title?

Empire State Building Run-Up 2009

So, the reigning champions were in New York for the 32nd edition of the ESBRU, but who else was in the building on Tuesday 3 February?

Four-time winner, Cindy Harris (née Moll) was back. She had finished second to Walsham in 2007 and 2008, and would be expected to provide one of the biggest challenges to the Australian.

Harris had been maintaining her stair climbing dominance throughout 2008, continuing her win streaks at the Hustle up the Hancock (where she set a new course record) and Sears Tower stair climbs in Chicago.

Just under two weeks before the ESBRU, she retained her title at the Bop to the Top event in her hometown of Indianapolis.

A couple of other former ESBRU champions were also in attendance.

The 1995 champion, Michelle Blessing, was in the building.

Michelle Blessing 2009 ESBRU

1995 winner Michelle Blessing at the 2009 ESBRU

So too was three-time winner Nina Kuscsik (1979-1981). Although neither would be in contention for a podium spot, it was good to see the former champions back for another run.

2009 Nina Kuscsik

Three-time winner Nina Kuscsik at the 2009 ESBRU

But three new faces would very likely be in contention for the podium.

In May 2008, Australian Jessamy Hosking had won the Australian Mountain Running Championship. She had placed second in those championships in 2006.

Jessamy Hosking

Jessamy Hosking

Three months later, she won the Sydney Tower Run-Up to earn herself a trip to New York to race at the ESBRU. She had been third there in 2007.

But five weeks before the ESBRU, Hosking had broken a bone in her toe and was unable to walk. She maintained her fitness with work on the bike and in the pool, and headed to New York in pain, but hoping for the best.

Italy’s Daniela Vassalli was another debutant Walsham and Harris would have to look out for.

An accomplished marathoner and mountain runner, Vasalli had recently turned her attention to tower running.

She had been the fastest woman at the Pirelli Tower in Milan back in February 2008, setting a new course record of 4:31.

Daniela Vassalli 2008 ESBRU

Daniela Vassalli

The final dark horse in the lobby was American runner Emily Kindlon. She had won the Run the Rock stair climb at the Rockefeller Center in 2007 and 2008. She would likely be in among the top finishers.

Emily Kindlon 2008

Emily Kindlon (with fellow winner Chris Solarz) at the 2008 Run the Rock

Another Italian, Cristina Bonacina, was also on the start line, as was ESBRU veteran Fiona Bayly.

Funnily, there was an Andrea Myers in the line up. Not sure if she got a shout out by the announcer in the lobby, but if she did it probably put a split-second jolt of shock through some, until they realised it wasn’t three-time champion and course record holder Andrea Mayr hiding at the back.

After her massive winning margin in 2008, Walsham was the obvious favourite. But the new faces added a touch of uncertainty to the proceedings. Overall it looked to have the ingredients for being a tight, competitive race.

As the starter’s claxon went, Walsham’s right foot gave way on the marble floor. Despite stumbling, she managed to stay on her feet, but Harris (and we believe Abby Woods on the far wall) got a jump on her and got out in front.

2009 womens start

Bridget Carlson (#106), Lynda Hubbard (108), Fiona Bayly (black gloves), Suzy Walsham (yellow vest), Daniela Vassalli (head visible above Walsham’s), Emily Kindlon (red vest along the far wall) and Cindy Harris out in front.

Walsham got upright again and drew alongside Daniela Vassalli. Neither was prepared to give an inch and their arms were catching each other as they vied for space.

Harris reached the door first, followed by Woods.

Next came the critical point of the race. With Walsham and Vassalli shoulder to shoulder, and only room for one to go through the door next, something had to give.

Walsham made a move to pass first, but Vassalli was having none of it.

She set her hand on Walsham’s shoulder and as the Australian went to make her pass, Vassalli shoved her hard out to the side. At the speed they were going, Walsham didn’t stand a chance. She lost her balance and smashed face first into the stone door frame, while Vassalli carried on and passed through the door in third place.

2009 ESBRU Walsham pushed

Suzy Walsham hits the deck after being pushed into the door frame by Daniela Vassalli

The following mass of runners ran into and over the prostrate Walsham. Eventually she was hauled to her feet by some of her competitors and bundled onto the stairs.

Walsham, her face already beginning to swell badly from the impact, and her clattered knee causing her serious pain, had a very quick decision to make. Pull out or carry on?

Of course the indomitable two-time champ soldiered on. She was now back in around 30th position, injured and in shock. Could she rein Harris and the other front runners back in before they got to the 86th floor?

Slowly but surely Walsham began to pass the women who had rushed pass her in the lobby.

2009 Cindy Harris

Cindy Harris out in front at the 2009 Empire State Building Run-Up

It took Walsham 50 floors before she caught up with Vassalli, who was chasing Harris and Hosking for top spot.

Revenge is sweet.

She passed the Italian and that was it. She wouldn’t let it slip now.

She powered on and caught up with Harris at around the 65th floor. An incredible show of determination, strength and will had led her to her third straight title.

Walsham crossed the line in 13:27, while Vassalli, who had surged pass Harris and Hosking in the final quarter of the race, finished 13 seconds back in 13:40.

Cindy Harris took third in 13:49 and Jessamy Hosking, with her broken foot, was fourth in 14:00. Emily Kindlon finished fifth in 14:22.

2009 Walsham finish2

2009 Walsham finish

Suzy Walsham wins the 2009 Empire State Building Run-Up

‘I thought, “What should I do? Do I stop or keep going?”‘, Walsham said after the race, holding an ice pack against her damaged knee.

‘I decided, I didn’t come all this way to pull out, so just did the best I could – power up. It was very hard. My knee was in a lot of pain and I was worried about my nose, that it was broken, but the adrenalin kicked in.’

2009 walsham trophy

Bruised but not beaten: a swollen-lipped Suzy Walsham holds up her winner’s trophy

Walsham’s fellow Australian, Jessamy Hosking, had also suffered throughout her climb.

‘I started off and I was in huge pain the whole way just hoping no one would step on my foot. I got to the top and I got 4th place. I was so happy, but so sore at the same time.’

Hosking would later refer to her fourth place finish with a broken foot as her most memorable athletic achievement.

Daniela Vassalli returned to a hero’s welcome in Italy. The athletics media was full of praise for the excellent debut run that got her on the podium. She would go on to win numerous stair races around the world over the following two or three years, including the inaugural NSPCC Gherkin Challenge in London in 2010.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, Walsham’s fall was still being considered an ‘accident’ and there was no mention of an intentional shove from Vassalli.

Daniela Vassalli 2008 ESBRU 2

Daniela Vassalli – second place at the 2009 ESBRU

But tellingly, Vassalli was never invited back to race at the ESBRU again. Perhaps somebody reviewed the footage or had been in the lobby and seen exactly what happened. *ed. note: pretty sure the race director became aware of the incident and I read that he said explicitly that Vassalli would never be invited to race the ESBRU again, but am currently unable to find the source for that.

The following year, padding was erected around the door frame to try and limit the danger of similar incidents.

Dold goes for a fourth straight win

There was some serious talent in the men’s division at the 2009 ESBRU.

Matthias Jahn, Dold’s training partner, was back. He’d finished second in 2007 and third in 2008. Could he go one better this year?

Matthias Jahn 2008 towerrunner

Matthias Jahn training in Franfurt in May, 2008

Also returning was American trail runner Rickey Gates. He had also been on the podium in 2007 and 2008, alternating positions with Jahn, while Dold took top honours.

It had been a mixed 12 months for Gates since his second place finish at the 2008 Run-Up.

A couple of weeks after the ESBRU he’d won the Run the Register stair race in Denver, Colorado.

Later in 2008 he had won trail and mountain races at home and abroad, and had placed an excellent 12th at the World Mountain Running Championships in September. But he had failed to defend the USA Trail Running Championships (10km) title he’d won in 2007, finishing in 17th place at the 2008 edition.

Rickey Gates 2008

Rickey Gates wins the 2008 Grintovec mountain race in Slovenia

Gates’ fellow Americans, Tim Donahue, Dan Casper, Eric Blake and David Tromp, were also in the lobby. They would all be hoping to make it into the top ten.

Dan Casper was a decorated track and road cyclist (as well as a fireman) who had finished in ninth place on his ESBRU debut in 2008.

Eric Blake, who was making his debut, was a mountain runner and marathoner. He had taken part in the 2004 US Olympic trials for the marathon and had also been part of the US team that took part in the World Mountain Running Championships in 2004-2006 and 2008.

In July, 2008, he had won the US Mountain Running Championship. He would be one to watch out for.

Eric Blake 2008 US champion

Eric Blake crosses the line to win the 2008 US Mountain Running Championship

Although Marco De Gasperi had been soundly beaten by Thomas Dold at the Taipei 101 Run-Up back in June 2008, the rest of his season had gone pretty well. He finished third at the European Mountain Running Championships in July and then eighth at the World Championships in September.

After the disappointment of the 2008 Run-Up, when he fell in the lobby and had to battle his way back from around 50th place to make it into the top 10, De Gasperi was hoping for much better luck this time around. All eyes were on him.

His Italian mountain running team mate, Emanuele Manzi, was on the start line as well.

Germany’s Christian Riedl, just starting out on his tower running journey, was making his ESBRU debut.

Javier Santiago from Mexico was back for the second time, looking to improve on the 16th place he’d earned in 2008.

Poland’s Tomasz Klisz was back for the sixth-straight time.

Other names that will be well familiar to many American stair climbers were also in attendance: Henry Wigglesworth, Paul Curley, Jeff Dinkin, Bruce Yang, Syd Arak, James Harris and Stephen Marsalese, to name a few.

From Australia, Scott McTaggart was back. In August 2008, he had won his third straight Sydney Tower Run-Up title, earning himself a trip to the ESBRU.

He’d also won his fourth straight Australian Mountain Running crown a few months before, so was in fantastic shape.

He had made a brilliant debut in New York the year before, finishing fourth. Could he get on the podium this time around?

1980 and 1982 ESBRU winner, Jim Ochse, was also in the building that morning, although not in the elite wave. He had taken part in the preliminary wave that ran at 9am (90 minutes before the elite women set off), with his 16:18 finish earning him 11th place there.

A lesson in the perfect ESBRU start

On the start line, Marco De Gasperi had sensibly positioned himself right out to the side, to avoid getting tripped by the charging runners behind him. But it meant he pretty much gave up getting through the door first.

To his left was cyclist Dan Casper, who had US mountain runner Eric Blake (bib #2 in the final video at the bottom of the story) just off his left shoulder.

Next along were Matthias Jahn and Thomas Dold. Scott McTaggart (red vest in the final video at the bottom) was on Dold’s left-hand side.

Rickey Gates, Tim Donahue, Duncan Lonsdale (who finished in 17:08 and should have been nowhere near the front) and Paul Curley made up the rest of the front row.

In a comical moment in the final video below (@0:11-0:16), the announcer calls out, ‘From Austria…Rudolf Reitberger’.

Matthias Jahn and Thomas Dold have a WTF? moment as they whip their heads around looking to find the two-time champion. Of course, he wasn’t there. Rudi still got a nice round of applause though.

2009 men's start

Marco De Gasperi (#37), Dan Casper, Matthias Jahn (3), Thomas Dold, Rickey Gates, Tim Donahue (in gloves and visor), Paul Curley

As always, master starter Thomas Dold reached the door first. It’s really interesting to watch the start in slow motion (0.25 playback speed on the final YouTube video at the bottom). Dold looks totally unprepared. He’s standing upright, no forward lean like his rivals and he looks relaxed. All the others are tensely staring straight ahead waiting to hear the claxon.

Dold, instead, is watching the starter (far right of the screen). At 0:22 seconds into the final video you see the starter’s arm going up with the claxon in hand. Watch Dold’s eyes track the hand up to the highest point. He then lets his weight fall forward and is already almost through pushing off his back foot as the claxon sounds.

Compare his footwork with Rickey Gates, two along from him (to the right as you look at it). Dold is almost on his third step before Gates has fully finished his first.

It’s actually masterful, and watching it this way it’s clear why Dold almost invariably made it to the door first in every ESBRU race he won. That, coupled with the spread out arms holding others back, of course.

Is it a truly false start? There’s a lot of twitching going on on the front line – Matthias Jahn also appears to jump the gun. It wouldn’t wash at an IAAF event that’s for sure.

Dold was followed through the door by Dan Casper, Matthias Jahn, Tim Donahue and Marco De Gasperi, in that order.

Just behind them, Rickey Gates had been twisted sideways by passing runners and then his legs had gone from under him. He hit the deck, with Scott McTaggart almost being taken out as well. You can see the incident beginning at 0:24 in the video below (slow it down).

Fortunately for Gates he landed on his backside and just slides along the floor right to the doorway, where he pops back up again. McTaggart did well to not go down, and you can see the mini-pause at the door as McTaggart braces against the following runners to give Gates time to get up properly.

2008 ESBRU mens lobby

Thomas Dold reaches the door first, followed by Dan Casper (#6), Matthias Jahn (3), Tim Donahue (7) and Marco De Gasperi (37). In the centre you can see Rickey Gates (87) turned sideways and heading for the floor.

2009 ESBRU men at door

The fast and frenetic battle for the door at the 2009 Empire State Building Run-Up

By the 20th floor (where we believe the image below was shot), Gates had picked up at least one place as he hunted down Dold and the other front runners.

He’s followed by Scott McTaggart, while Tim Donahue can be seen coming into the picture.

Rickey Gates ESBRU 2009

Rickey Gates, Scott McTaggart and Tim Donahue

Up ahead, Thomas Dold was running the race of his life. Marco De Gasperi was bringing out the very best in him.

At around the 40th floor, Dold caught up with the back end of the women’s wave that had been set off five minutes before the men.

The German, who led from the start, had to weave his way through scores of runners as he chased his fourth title.

Thomas Dold ESBRU 2009

Dold weaves through a crowd during the second half of the race

It’s a shame the organisers didn’t leave 10 minutes between the women’s and men’s wave, because it’s quite possible that given a clear run Dold could have become the second person (after Paul Crake) to have finished in under 10 minutes.

He pulled away from De Gasperi and the chasing Rickey Gates in the final quarter of the race to cross the finish line in 10:07. He had taken a second off the personal best time he set in 2008.

2009 Thomas Dold finish

Thomas Dold 2009 ESBRU finish

Marco De Gasperi finished second in 10:29. Rickey Gates made it back onto the podium for the third year in a row by finishing third in 10:40.

De Gasperi and Dold ESBRU 2009

Marco De Gasperi congratulates Thomas Dold

Thomas Dold 2009 Empire State Building Run Up

‘This is such a special win for me,’ said Dold. ‘You have to train a lot to get a victory like this, and it gets harder every year—lots of guys want it.’

2009 Dold celebrates

Thomas Dold celebrates his fourth ESBRU win

Dold had to fight to hold onto the finish tape he took as a souvenir. In the video below (posted by Javier Santiago who finished in ninth place), you can see Santiago’s finish (he crashes into reporters as Dold is being interviewed) and then you see the doorman trying to yank the finishing tape out of Dold’s hands as he heads back inside.

2009 winners colour

Empire State Building Run-Up 2009 winners – Suzy Walsham and Thomas Dold

This is a really good video from NYRR and has some different angles of the start, plus more in-race footage than the one underneath it. You can see Walsham running at 1:20-1:35, and you can watch Thomas Dold working his way past some of the slower finishing ladies at 1:44-1:52.

This final video is the one that was referenced throughout this piece, i.e. where you can see Dold’s start and Rickey Gates’ fall, etc.

 

2009 Empire State Building Run-Up results

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walsham VWC 2019

Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski retained their Vertical World Circuit (VWC) titles yesterday at the grand finale in Osaka, Japan.

It was the eighth straight title for Australia’s Walsham, who first won the series back in 2012, and a sixth title for Piotr Lobodzinski.

The ten-event series has seen close races around the world throughout 2019. Starting in Seoul back in April, runners have since done battle in Milan, Ho Chi Minh City, Paris, New York, London, Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai before the final race on Sunday (Nov. 10) in Osaka.

The 1,610-step Abeno Harukas was the venue for the final event.

Heading into the race, Lobodzinski needed to place at least second to be certain of retaining his title. With a resurgent Mark Bourne (AUS) in the mix, and Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) seeking his first VWC title it was not an easy situation for the Polish world champion.

But in the end he did enough. Mark Bourne took the win with a new course record of 8:29 and Lobodzinski followed in 8:43. His second-place finish enough to earn him the overall Vertical World Circuit 2019 crown.

Harukas Skyrun men’s results:

  1. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 8:29
  2. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 8:43
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 9:02
  4. Kato Satoshi (JPN) – 9:19
  5. Liang Liang He (CHN) – 9:41

‘Of course, I wanted to win today, but my shape is not as good as in spring. Mark was better and I had no chance to win the race but the points I collected in the first part of the season were enough to secure my sixth title in a row so I’m very happy and glad to be on top for so long,’ Lobodzinski told reporters after the race.

Eight straight for Walsham

View this post on Instagram

And then there were 8! 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 When I was first crowned Vertical World Circuit champion at the end of the 2012 season, it was my first full successful year after pregnancy and I was excited to see where this newish sport would take me. While I try not to put limits on myself, I still never really expected to still be competing and doing well 8 years later! Despite my advancing years and the body not quite holding up like it used to, I still aim for improvement and I’m still as motivated and determined as ever in my training and racing. It’s not possible to have this kind of success year in, year out without an amazing team behind me. So a big thank you to: – @david_freer for your love, support, guidance, encouragement and for holding the fort at home when I am frequently away racing. – my family, friends and fellow athletes from all over the world who also encourage, support and motivate me. – the companies who help me be the best athlete I can be: @nike @drgarytho @alpnutrition_official @simplyactiveasia – the @verticalworldcircuit for organising the Circuit and supporting the athletes. A special shout out to @sportingrepublic and @dshinhk for managing/directing so many of the races. I’m already excited for 2020! #worldchampion #8times #verticalworldcircuit #vwc19 #nolimits #consistency #motivation #determination #beyourbest #neverstoptrying #nevergiveup #goals #dreams #fitnessmotivation #towerrunning #verticalrunning #justdoit #seeyouinthestairs #theonlywayisup

A post shared by Suzy Walsham 🇦🇺🏃🏻‍♀️ (@suzywalsham) on

In the final of the women’s event, Suzy Walsham only needed to finish in fifth place to be sure of winning an incredible eighth VWC title.

Giving her the title, then, was in part mere formality, as you probably have to go back to 2011 to find the last time the Australian star didn’t finish on the podium at a tower run.

But the race still had to be run and Walsham put in a blistering performance to take the win and finish in 10:18, just four seconds off the course record set by Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi in 2017.

Harukas Skyrun women’s results:

  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 10:18:
  2. Laura Manninen (FIN) – 11:07
  3. Yuko Tateishi (JPN) – 11:30
  4. Kumi Kinoshita (JPN) – 11:59
  5. Mie Takahashi (JPN) – 12:02

‘I’m thrilled to win here in Osaka at the 2019 Vertical World Circuit final and achieve my eighth straight world title,’ said Walsham. ‘I had a strong run, although I was a little disappointed to just miss the record, but it’s hard to be at your absolute peak for every race. It’s been a great year of racing and I’m already looking forward to VWC 2020!’

2019 Vertical World Circuit final standings:
Men

  1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 567 points
  2. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 561 points
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 539.5 points
  4. Emanuele Manzi (ITA) – 454 points
  5. Omar Bekkali (BEL) – 420 points

Women

  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 600 points
  2. Laura Manninen (FIN) – 533 points
  3. Yuko Tateishi (JPN) – 461.5 points
  4. Sarah Frost (GBR) – 449.5 points
  5. Cristina Bonacina (ITA) – 359 points

Swissotel Vertical Marathon 1 winners

1987 Kenneth Keng (SIN) 7:20  Helen Gilbey (AUS) 9:04
1988 Kenneth Keng (SIN) 7:35  Helen Gilbey (AUS) 8:46
1989 Balvinder Singh (SIN) 6:55
1990 Law Kah Yew (SIN) Helen Gilbey (AUS)
1991 – 1998 Results yet to be found
1999 Adrian Mok (SIN)
2000 ?
2001 ?
2002 ?
2003 Pedro Ribeiro (POR)
2004 Ben Pulham 7:35  Esther Tan
2005 Pedro Ribeiro (POR) 7:18  Kristy Rice (USA) 10:13
2006 Pedro Ribeiro (POR)  Suzy Walsham (AUS)
2007 Mwai Zakayo Nderi (KEN) 7:03  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:31
2008 Thomas Dold (GER) 6:52  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:19
2009 Thomas Dold (GER) 6:46*  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:29
2010 Thomas Dold (GER) 6:51  Melissa Moon (NZL) 8:57
2011 Matthias Jahn (GER) 7:16  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:23
2012 Darren Wilson (AUS) 7:13  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 7:51*
2013 Mark Bourne (AUS) 6:51  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 7:57
2014 Mark Bourne (AUS) 6:46*  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:02
2015 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:48  Suzy Walsham (AUS) 7:46**
2016 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:55  Suzy Walsham (AUS)
2017 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:33  Suzy Walsham (AUS) **
2018 Ching Chun Lo  Bridget Robertson **

* course record
** indoor finish on 69th floor due to poor weather on 73rd floor helipad

jumeirah-web

Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski smashed their course records at the Dubai Holding SkyRun this morning.

In the penultimate leg of the Vertical World Circuit, the world champions each took a massive chunk off their respective best times at Jumeirah Emirates Towers.

Walsham (AUS) completed the 1,334-step course in 8:03, taking 13 seconds off the 8:16 record she set in 2017.

The victory was the second in five days for Walsham, after she won in commanding fashion in Shanghai last Sunday.

Top five women:

1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) 8:03
2. Laura Manninen (FIN) 8:48
3. Huan Wang (CHN) 8:59
4. Lyubov Novgorodtseva (RUS) 9:15
5. Sarah Frost (GBR) 9:17

Lobodzinski bounces back

After the disappointment of having his unbeaten run in 2019 ended by Mark Bourne in Shanghai last Sunday, Piotr Lobodzinski came right back with the perfect performance to demonstrate why he is still the finest tower runner in the world.

The Polish star had said before the race that he felt in good shape and was planning a sub seven-minute finish. And he was absolutely true to his word.

His previous best time of 7:09 was smashed as he crossed the finish line in a new magnificent record of 6:55.

Top five men:

1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 6:55
2. Emanuele Manzi (ITA) 7:17
3. Omar Bekkali (BEL) 7:59
4. Mickael Pourcelot (FRA) 8:04
5. Gholamreza Cheraghikavari (IRI) 9:09

Full results of Dubai Holding SkyRun 2019

Whether you’re after training ideas from the best, or just looking to keep up with what’s happening in the global tower running community, these Instagram accounts will keep you motivated and in the know.

Suzy Walsham @suzywalsham

The Australian superstar posts regularly on the platform with pictures from her training sessions, race updates and more. Her account gives a great insight into the relentless amount of hard work the 10-time winner of the Empire State Building Run-Up puts in to stay on top.

Piotr Lobodzinski @towerrunner

If you’re going to follow any tower runner, it may as well be the best in the world, right? Lobodzinski isn’t the most consistent poster on Instagram but still, it’s good to keep up with the global travels and triumphs of one of the best stair climbers of all time. It’s worth noting, though, that many of his captions are in his native Polish so you’ll have to translate those. Dzięki!

Soh Wai Ching @mastowerrunner

In terms of followers, Wai Ching is well out in front in the tower running world (over 6,600 at the time of writing). The current world number two is a prolific poster, providing a look into his training and travels as he continues toward his goal of becoming the top stair climber in the world.

Alexis Trujillo @alexistrujillo_atl

With his chiseled good looks and winning smile, the darling of Towerrunning Mexico is easy on the eye. He’s up to third in the world, as of the most recent TWA rankings, so his posts on training are well worth a read. His often lengthy captions are all en español, though, so you’ll need your Spanish dictionary (or Google translate) to hand.

Sarah Frost @sarahchaneyfrost

Frost is the standout star of UK tower running and her account is packed full of quality shots and videos from her intense training and racing schedule. She often breaks down her training sessions in the captions, which is super useful for anyone wondering how the hell to actually train for a stair race. Frost is also a keen rock climber and horse rider, so as an added bonus you’ll occasionally get to see cool videos of her tackling some tough bouldering routes or jumping obstacles on horse back.

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Suzy Walsham ESBRU

Suzy Walsham is one of the greatest tower runners of all time, so who better to hear from to find out more about the sport of stair climbing?

In this episode of the excellent Everyday Running Legends podcast, Suzy chats with Brodie Sharpe and discusses her journey from an elite track and field career to stair climbing super-stardom.

The episode also covers how she trains for a tower run, the differences between stair running and flat running, and her tips for those looking to start out in the sport.

Click the link below to listen to the full podcast:

Everyday Running Podcast – Reaching the top of the world in tower running with Suzy Walsham

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Pyramidenkogel-Aussichtsturm

Britain’s Sarah Frost took third place at the Pyramidenkogel-Turmlauf in Keutschach, Austria on Friday afternoon.

The British number one reached the top of the distinctive tower’s 441 steps in 2:45.04 to continue her impressive run of form in 2019.

‘It was a better result than I expected, so I am super stoked’, said Frost.

‘There’s still a large gap between myself and the legends of Windisch and Walsham, so I can’t wait to get back to training in London – lots of work to do to catch up.’

Austria’s Veronika Windisch, who set the course record at the inaugural event in 2018, returned to take the narrowest of wins ahead of Australia’s Suzy Walsham.

Windisch clocked a winning time of 2:36.42, while world number one Walsham finished agonizingly close in 2:36.68, to claim second.

Walsham followed the race with a ski jump run-up at the Red Bull 400 event in Planica, Slovenia on Saturday, where she finished fourth overall.

Sarah Frost is set to return to action on home soil at next month’s NSPCC Gherkin Challenge, where she is hotly tipped to break her own course record.

Valentina Belotti 2019

Valentina Belotti set a new course record on her way to victory at the Valle Camonica Vertical in Malegno, Italy on Saturday (31 August).

The in-form Italian was untouchable as she climbed the 2,975 steps (with 750m of vertical gain) in a new record of 25:51, taking a massive 1:20 off the previous best time.

The victory made it two wins from two races (plus two course records) in just seven days for the 2009 world mountain running champion.

It followed her stunning victory the weekend before (24th August) at the 1,704-step Ostankino Tower in Moscow. There she set a new course record of 10:54, easily beating a stacked field of international tower runners that included the world number one Suzy Walsham (second in 11:40) and American Cindy Harris (third in 12:46).

ostankino-tower-tour

The Ostankino Tower in Moscow

Belotti has become a dominant force on the emerging Italian outdoor stair climbing scene. Last year she won at the 535 in Condotta event in Moio de’ Calvi, in similarly dominant fashion. She is now taking this form back indoors more consistently now, securing wins and podium places around the world.

It’s somewhat of a renaissance for the mountain running star. A four-time winner at Taipei 101 (2011-2014) with multiple VWC stage wins to her name as well during that period, Belotti was the dominant force on the global tower running scene in the early to mid-2010s.

She focused her athletic endeavours elsewhere for a few years, popping up occasionally for races, but not committing fully to the stair running circuit.

However, in 2018, her second-place finish at the tower running world championship event at Taipei 101 heralded the return of one of the best stair climbers ever.

If Belotti can maintain this type of form throughout the winter and into the World Championship year of 2020, she may prove to be the greatest challenge to the dominance of reigning world champion Walsham.

China Wing HOtel

Suzy Walsham took victory at the China World Summit Wing Beijing for a seventh straight time on Saturday.

Walsham, the course record holder at the 2,041-step tower, reached the top in 11:59 to secure maximum points in the Beijing leg of the 2019 Vertical World Circuit.

The reigning world champion led from the claxon, eventually pulling away from Linming Chen (12:49) and Finland’s Laura Manninen (13:04) in the second half of the race.

‘I wasn’t feeling great in the warm up’, said Walsham. ‘But [I] focused and pushed hard and got the result I wanted. I focused on my own race and did not get distracted by the other runners. I was able to win by not going out too fast early on, and maintained a pretty good rhythm pulling away around the 30th floor, and it was head down to keep on going.’

The finishing time was 13 seconds off the course record she set back in 2013, but it was a very welcome return to top spot on the podium for the Australian.

The previous weekend (24th August), Walsham had to settle for second spot as former World Mountain Running Champion (2009) Valentina Belotti took victory at the Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

The race was the seventh in the 11-race Vertical World Circuit. It was a third win for Walsham (Milan, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing) alongside the second place she secured in Seoul, but Laura Manninen remains on top of the overall rankings.

The next race will take place at Two Shanghai IFC on 20th October. Walsham is also course record holder at that 1,460-step tower, and she will be expected to repeat her 2018 win.