Posts Tagged ‘Taipei 101 stair race’

Australia’s Mark Bourne and Suzy Walsham took decisive victories at the Asian-Oceanian Towerrunning Championships this past weekend, held at Taipei 101 in Taiwan.


Taipei 101 (2,046 steps), venue for the Asian & Oceanian Towerrunning Championships 2017

The Aussie pair returned to Taiwan, having both taken a break from the race – a year off for Walsham and two for Bourne.

Walsham had last one in 2015 and Bourne in 2014, and they returned on Sunday to stamp their dominance on their rivals with clear wins in the eighth tallest building in the world.

In its 13th edition, the race at Taipei 101 is recognised as one of the toughest on the global race calendar.

Walsham reached the top of the building’s 2,046 notoriously steep steps in a time of 13.36 – 20 seconds off her 2015 winning time and personal best- but still well over a minute faster than fellow Australian Alice McNamara who came in second in 14.58.

Similarly, Bourne was well off his best pace at the 508m tall building – 10.52 set in 2013 – but managed to secure victory with a time of 11.24. Behind him was another Australian, Leon Keely – who has previously competed at the highly-demanding Orienteering World Cup, and was taking part in only his second ever stair climb.

Both Bourne and Walsham had taken wins at the Lotte Tower in Seoul, Korea (the fifth tallest building in the world) a fortnight before (you can see footage of Bourne breaking the tape in Seoul here where he beat reigning world champion Piotr Lobodzinski in the much-anticipated exhibition event) so were good bets for their victories in Taipei.


Suzy Walsham and Mark Bourne (image courtesy of Towerrunning World Association)

With such dominant displays over the last few weeks, surely both athletes will be looking ahead to the World Championships in China next month with huge confidence? Bourne has shown himself time and again to be one of the only real rivals to Piotr ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski, especially over the longer distances. Their expected battle for top spot will be one of the highlights of the 2017 season.

Walsham, for the most part, continues to exist in a world of her own at the top of the female rankings, so rarely is she troubled by her competitors. Only Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi has beaten Walsham in the past six months, and Walsham avenged that defeat at the Lotte Tower Run. She seems undefeatable in 2017, and her rivals at the upcoming World Championship must surely know they are ultimately competing for second place. Andrea Mayr, where are you??

There have been some big races lately, with the world’s elite competing at events in Europe and Asia. We want to quickly jump back a couple of weeks to April 23rd, to a race we didn’t get chance to write about at the time, but which involved some of Europe’s top stair runners.

Held in Vienna, the first Haus des Meeres stair race was a very closely run affair, with Austria’s best climbers battling for homeland bragging rights. In a sprint race up just 271 outdoor steps, the top five were separated by a mere five seconds. Taking a well earned victory was the perennially competitive Norbert “Hannibal” Lechner. This guy regularly takes podium places and top-ten finishes at events with the strongest fields around the world. After a disappointing final run at the World Championship in Doha, Lechner had remarked that he had lost a bit of motivation and as a result his training hadn’t been as intense as usual. It seems the slight layoff proved just what he needed as he sprinted to victory in a time of 00: 59.45. He just managed to hold off “The Mauerbach Tornado” Klaus Hausleitner, who finished in 00: 59.75.

Lechner prepares for the challenge of Taipei 101

Lechner prepares for the challenge of Taipei 101

On May 3rd Lechner’s attention turned to the gargantuan challenge of the steeply stepped Taipei 101, currently the fifth tallest buidling in the world. Also taking on the 2,046 steps were world number one Showtime Lobodzinski, Italy’s Emanuele “Il Guerriero” Manzi, “The Meat Cleaver” Petr Novotny from the Czech Republic and a number of talented local climbers. Reigning champion and multi-time winner Mark “The Assassin” Bourne was absent, so it was the perfect opportunity for Showtime to finally take victory at a race in which his previous best finish had been second. And he did just that. The 2014 Towerrunning Champion has been in incredible form recently and it shows no sign of stopping. Second place went to Manzi, also having a brilliant season, with local climber Jun Gu “Pyroclastic Flow” Guo taking a well-earned third. As usual, “Hannibal” was in the mix, finishing a strong 7th.

The top finishers at Taipei 101 celebrate their success

Some of the top finishers at Taipei 101 celebrate their success

In the women’s section there was a good spread of talent on show. Again the reigning champ, Valentina “Atalanta” Belotti, was missing, which denied us the chance to see what would have undoubtedly been a great race between her and 2014 Towerrunning Champion Suzy “The Title Magnate” Walsham. In the end, Walsham took a fairly handy win, with “The Rising Sun” Dominika Wisniweska-Ulfik finishing in second. It was great to see “The Gatekeeper” Cristina Bonacina taking third. “Need For Speed” Cindy Reid, winner in Vietnam a few weeks back, managed a solid fifth.

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