Posts Tagged ‘Tomas Celko’

Eiffel tower at night

La Verticale de La Tour Eiffel 2020 is set for March and all eyes will be on Paris 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 men’s division, world champion Piotr Lobodzinski is back to defend his title. Alongside the Polish superstar in Paris will be 24 others looking to do the impossible and unseat the five-time winner.

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

The Eiffel Tower stair race has come a long way from the earliest editions in 1905 and 1906.

forestier the favourite 1905

Eugene Forestier – winner of the 1905 Eiffel Tower stair race

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 25 men have been selected to compete in the elite category at the 2020 edition.

As the only winner, Piotr Lobodzinski 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. Does the new set up increase the chances of the Pole missing out on top spot for the first time ever?

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 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:53.97)

2018 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:56.67)

2017 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:54.76)

2016 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:48.77 – course record)

2015 – Piotr Lobodzinski (7:50.93)

Eiffel-Disco_GettyImages-534953254

The step count of the altered format makes it quite hard to predict who 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 pick of 12 of the top racers to watch out for at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel.

Piotr Lobodzinski – Poland

Lobodzinski La Vertical Tour Eiffel 2019

The only man to have won La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel since it began back in 2015, Lobodzinski will be going for an incredible sixth win. He has run the Eiffel Tower course in under eight minutes every single time. To put that into perspective, only one other person has managed to do that even once – Christian Riedl in 2016. It’s a remarkable record, and proof that Lobodzinski completely rules this tower.

The Polish athlete won the Vertical World Circuit and Towerrunning Tour in 2019 and finished no lower than second in any race at all last year, winning the overwhelming majority of them. He ran the third fastest time ever at Taipei 101 at the start of May. 10 days later he became the second fastest person to ever run the Empire State Building when he won in 10:05.

He doesn’t tend to race in short buildings anymore, opting for super-tall international towers over smaller European venues. The shortest course he ran in 2019 was the 836-step Rondo 1 in Warsaw back in February, where he finished 14 seconds ahead of second-placed Görge Heimann.

But even though he hasn’t found chance to turn on the turbo boosters over short courses recently, we still know he is super fast.

Will Lobodzinski win a sixth-straight La Verticale title? The new format makes it so difficult to say, but bet against him at your peril.

@towerrunner

Mark Bourne – Australia

Mark Bourne Stairclimbing Australia

The only man to beat Lobodzinski in 2019, the Australian star managed it three times in a row at the end of last season.

Racing primarily at home and across Asia, Bourne rarely competes in the smaller towers some of his European rivals are familiar with, so it’s hard to know how he’ll fare in this short-course event.

He’ll make the final, of course, but does he have that raw pace to finish on top in the qualifiers and dominate the last run from the front?

We’re not sure he does. He’ll likely be in the mix for the top five, but the podium will prove elusive.

@markbournerun

Christian Riedl – Germany

Riedl finish

Despite winning the 2019 German Towerrunning Cup, Christian Riedl had a relatively quiet season last year. One of the best tower runners in the world throughout the 2010s, Riedl has been Lobodzinski’s closest rival for many years.

He was second to Lobodzinski at La Verticale in 2016-2018 and third in 2019. He also trailed the Pole when he won the world tower running championship in 2018.

We know Riedl is fast, as he’s proven by winning multiple short course events at European venues over the years. In 2019 he took wins at Hardy’s Hotelturmlauf (510 steps) and the ADAC Charity Treppenlauf (472 steps), as well as podium places at other short-course events.

It’s hard to imagine the German will be anywhere other than in the mix for the top three spots come race night if he’s at or near his best.

@christian.riedl.77

Jakob Mayer – Austria

Jakob Mayer la verticale de la tour eiffel 2020

After finishing second at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel last year (he was third in 2018), Jakob Mayer spent the rest of the 2019 season dominating the Red Bull 400 circuit in Europe. Two wins and two second-place finishes in the Red Bull 4TITUDE Challenge saw the Austrian crowned series champion at the finale in September.

The day before that finale, he set a new course record of 2:04.38 at the 441-step (plus uphill pre-run) Pyramidenkogel Turmlauf in Austria. He also won the Muensterturmlauf in Germany (560 stairs) in June.

Mayer has already got 2020 off to winning ways, with victories in the Lustenauer Cross Country Series.

Fast, super-strong and with a great engine, Mayer is once again going to be in contention for the top spot come March.

@jakob.mayer.athlete

Soh Wai Ching – Malaysia

Soh Wai Ching La Verticale 2020

The world number two had a fantastic 2019 season, picking up wins and podium spots around the world.

Ninth on his La Verticale debut in 2018, the Malaysian stepped it up last March and finished fourth, so he’s well aware of what to expect on the stairs of The Iron Lady.

We know he’s quick. Last year he became the fourth fastest person to ever run the 932 steps of Tower 42 in London when he won in 4:17. Among the three men faster than him at that London venue are fellow La Verticale 2020 rivals, Piotr Lobodzinski (3:59) and Fabio Ruga (4:11).

Expect Wai Ching to breeze to the final, and it will be a surprise not to see him somewhere back in the top five again.

@mastowerrunner

Fabio Ruga – Italy

Fabio Ruga mountain running Italia

The course record of 4:07 that Ruga set at The Gherkin in London back in 2010 still stands. We found out he was fast then, and a decade on he’s barely lost a step.

No stranger to success in the French capital, the Italian mountain runner won the VertiGO race at the 954-step Tour First last year by a clear margin, proving he still has speed.

He’s never finished outside of the top-10 at La Verticale, with the 6th place he took last year being his best result, and we don’t expect 2020 to be any different.

He will comfortably make the final, but we don’t expect to see him pushing for the top five.

@fabioruga

Tomas Celko – Slovakia

Tomas Celko 2020

The Slovakian is a well-known speedster on the tower running scene. In August 2019 he won the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava, holding off the next two entrants on our list, Alexis Trujillo and Michal Kovac.

It was a rare appearance from Celko, who had a fairly quiet tower running season. He was active on the Red Bull 400/ski jump running scene, winning in Zakopane for the second year in a row (a sixth title in total at the venue in Poland) and at the Vertikální Horečky in the Czech Republic.

After recovering from surgery at the end of last year, Celko has begun his recovery and returned to training. Will he be able to get back to full fitness and make it to Paris? If he can, expect him to be up among the fastest finishers heading into the final.

@tomascelko

Görge Heimann – Germany

Görge Heimann towerrunning

The oldest competitor on the list, at 51 years old, the ever-impressive Heimann continues to pull brilliant performances out of the hat on a regular basis.

He had a number of standout races in 2019, particularly in buildings with less than 1,000 steps. Among the highlights was a win at the 936-step Subida Vertical Gran Hotel Bali in Benidorm where he finished ahead of La Verticale rivals, Soh Wai Ching and Michal Kováč. He also took second at the highly competitive Rondo 1 race in Poland, finishing behind Piotr Lobodzinski. He was fastest at the Tallinn TV Tower (870 steps) in April and then finished ahead of Christian Riedl at the 705-step KoelnTurm Treppenlauf in Cologne in August.

Heimann’s best finish at La Verticale is 7th (2018) and you can expect him to do as well as that, if not better, on the evening of 11 March.

@goergeheimann

Michal Kováč – Slovakia

Michal Kovac towerrunner

Kováč was on the podium a bunch of times in 2019, proving himself a real force on the European tower running scene.

He was third at Rondo 1 in Warsaw in February and then second at London’s Vertical Rush in March. In August he took third at the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava and in October he was third at the 365-step sprint Beh Do Neba Zilina in Slovakia. He’s proven multiple times he has the speed to match his endurance.

He also made his La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel debut last year and finished in an impressive 7th.

Anticipate another top-10 finish this time around too.

@kovomiso

Alexis Trujillo – Mexico

Alexis Trujillo La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel

2019 was a big year for Trujillo as he finished as the world number three. Winning numerous races and finishing on the podium across multiple continents, he established himself as an international tower running star.

Among the most relevant results when assessing his chances at La Verticale is his second place at the three-round UFO Vertical Sprint in Bratislava in August. The Mexican had already shown he had the legs for the long races, but made it clear he is also lightning fast.

Back in Mexico he was second at the 636-step Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in March, then won the Carrera Vertical Uvm Campus Chapultepec (654 steps) in July and Carrera Towerrunning Tlaxcala (900 steps) in August.

Trujillo will expect to be in the fight for the top five, but the podium might be out of reach this time around.

@alexistrujillo_atl

Frank Carreno – Colombia

Frank Carreno towerrunning

Carreno has finished in 5th place at each La Verticale he’s contested (2017-2019). The Colombian is another known speedster on the tower running circuit and with the new short format favouring him, he’ll be looking to do even better than 5th place this year.

He has form over this sort of step count too. Last March he won the 636-step Carrera Vertical Torre Latino in 3:17, finishing 12 seconds ahead of Alexis Trujillo. Then, in September, he won the 500-step Carrera Vertical Hotsson Smart Acapulco.

If he gets to Paris in good shape, he should be right up there competing for the top places in the final.

@frankcarreno.towerrunning

Matjaž Mikloša – Slovenia

Matjaz Miklosa

Miklosa blew onto the UK tower running radar in 2015 when he set the fantastic 2:07 course record at the 530-step Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

Last December he won the Zagrepcanka 512 in Zagreb, Croatia. That race involves two runs up 490 steps with a 10-minute rest between rounds. The format change at La Verticale suits him down to the ground.

Miklosa also took third place in the final standings of the Red Bull 4TITUDE Challenge 2019.

He’s never broken into the top 10 at La Verticale, but this could well be the year he manages it.

More:

May 30:

After a couple of weeks break in the American race calendar, there were three events at the end of May; one in Columbia, South Carolina, one in Austin, Texas and the final one in Minneapolis, MN.

Capitol Center in Columbia, South Carolina

Capitol Center in Columbia, South Carolina

In Columbia, around 90 athletes took on the Capitol Center’s 479 stairs. Fastest male on the day was 17 year old Jared “Sweet Tears of the Falcon” Elliot who was the only runner to go sub-3 minutes. The quickest lady was Stacie “The Believer” Weaver in 3.35, which earned her 7th overall.

In Austin, TX there were some big names racing at a two-part event in the city’s Frost Bank Tower. In addition to a single climb up the building’s 660 steps, there were also a hardened crew that took on a double climb option.

Fastest in the solo climb was Eric “North Face of The” Geiger who clocked a speedy 3.20. Winner of the double climb option was West Coast Labels athlete Scott “The Chalice of Thunder” Stanley, who took his second win on the trot. We’re very pleased to see a real turnaround in his season.

The unique looking Frost Bank Tower in Austin

The unique looking Frost Bank Tower in Austin

In Minneapolis, Minnesota it was business as usual for “The Steel Oath” Jason Larson as he took another victory. The event took place at the TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota, and saw competitors take on 6,054 steps. The Steel Oath finished his climb in 34.02, nearly two minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

The biggest race of the day was in Benidorm, Spain where some of the world’s elites converged in battle for crucial ranking points at a Towerrunning World Cup premium race. The event, now in its 13th year, takes place at the Grand Hotel Bali and covers 936 stairs. In attendance were top names that included Omar Bekkali, Ralf Hascher and Dario Fracassi.

Taking the win in a tight race, in which the top four were separated by only 13 seconds, was Tomas Celko. The consistent Celko currently sits second on the Towerrunning World Cup leader board and this win will have given him a bit of a cushion between himself and third placed Christian Riedl.

Omar Bekkali maintained his recent form by taking a bronze position on the podium for the second week in a row, while Spain’s Ignacio Cardona Torres kept the locals happy with his second place finish.

Following her solid win in Paris the weekend before, it was Lenka Svabikova who came out on top in the women’s division. In doing so she became only the second woman at the event to ever run under 6 minutes, and was just three seconds shy of the course record.

Men and women podium finishers in Benidorm: (l-r) Omar Bekkali, Ivonne Martinucci, Lenka Svabikova, Tomas Celko, Ignacio Cardona, Rosi Llorens

Podium finishers in Benidorm: (l-r) Omar Bekkali, Ivonne Martinucci, Lenka Svabikova, Tomas Celko, Ignacio Cardona, Rosi Llorens

The final race of the day was in Kolbnitz, Austria where the daunting task of 8,971 stairs, alongside a mountain railway, stood before a small number of competitors. The event attracted some big names, including Matjaz “The Slovenian Multi-Tool” Miklosa and Germany’s Rudolf “One Shot” Reitberger.

The win however was taken by Richard “Big Ricky Beans” Obendorfer who finished his run up in 54mins 46secs.

The gorgeous setting for the Reißeck Bergbahn stair race in Kolbnitz, Austria

The gorgeous setting for the Reißeck Bergbahn stair race in Kolbnitz, Austria

May 31:

The final two races in May took place in Germany. The first was an inaugural race in Hemer with 466 steps, which was won by Jeroen “Jerry the Chin” Vochteloo in a time of 2.26. The other race was held in Darmstadt and saw Franz “Franky Fingers” Maier from Towerrunning Germany take victory.

Keep climbing!