Posts Tagged ‘Towerrunning world championship 2018’

In her 100th tower running event, Suzy Walsham added the title of World Champion to her long list of achievements on Saturday in Taiwan.

There were no surprises as the Australian won both races in the two-part championship format.

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Suzy Walsham, Tower Running World Champion 2018 (image – Suzy Walsham)

The event began with a climb up the first 35 floors of Taipei 101. Walsham was first into the stairwell and powered up 824 steps in just 4.31. Behind her in the initial standings was the expected competition of Zuzana Krchova (4.53) and Valentina Belotti (5.01).

With Walsham very rarely beaten over longer distances, it seemed like she had the Championship wrapped up with that clear victory in the shorter race. Only a complete disaster in the following full-length race up 91 floors would have prevented her from securing her first world title.

There would be no disaster, though, and amazingly, with only around 90 minutes rest between races, Walsham managed to pull out a PB at Taipei 101 as she stormed up 2,046 steps in 13.01, securing her fourth win at the iconic building in Taiwan.

The absence of 2015 world champion Andrea Mayr and Japanese mountain running star Yuri Yoshizumi from the Championship meant the most significant challenges to Walsham were removed, but in this sort of form the Australian appeared unbeatable anyway.

‘[It’s a] big milestone for me today, it is my 100th stair race,’ said Walsham, ‘I’ve achieved a lot over the years, it’s been an incredible journey, and so i’m thrilled to be here for that 100th race’.

With 100 races in a 12-year stair climbing career, Walsham is a six-time Vertical World Circuit winner, seven-time Towerrunning World Tour winner, nine-time Empire State Building Run-Up winner and is now a worthy and unrivalled World Champion.

Her attention now turns to the Vertical World Series that begins at Lotte Tower in Seoul this coming Sunday. Walsham won there last year and will return there again to seek out another victory and kick off her attempt to retain her Vertical World Circuit title.

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In less than 48 hours time the 2018 tower running world champion will be crowned. Who will it be?

2015 world champion and current world number one Piotr ‘Showtime’ Lobodzinski is the understandable pre-race favourite. In March, the Polish star took victory at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, holding off the challenge from most of the same top-level rivals he’ll face in Taipei on Saturday. In fact, Lobodzinski finished a fairly comfortable 15 seconds ahead of second place Christian Riedl in Paris.

The best in the world have been fairly quiet since that talent-stacked race in March. Jakob Mayer, Frank Carreno and Tomas Celko were in Valtellina last month taking on the 2,700-step course there, but Riedl, Bourne and Lobodzinski have kept a fairly low profile as they prepared for this weekend’s championship.

Based solely on recent form, and specifically the result from Paris, picking Lobodzinski to retain his world title appears to be the smart bet. The Pole seems to be in almost unbeatable form.

But taking a look at results going back the last few years, it starts to look a lot less straightforward.

Who can beat Lobodzinski?

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The World Championship format consists of two races. Race one is up 824 steps of Taipei 101 and race two, 90 minutes later, will be a full run of the tower up 91 floors/2,046 steps. Points will be assigned to the top 50 and the person with the most combined points after the two races will be world champion. If points are tied after the two rounds, highest finishing position in race two will determine the overall winner.

With the most prestigious races on the tower running circuit happening at towers with more than 1,500 steps it’s not so easy to find shorter events where the world’s elite have gone head-to-head. But there have been some races that give an indication of how the top male stair climbers fare against each other in shorter races.

The Rondo 1 event in Warsaw, Poland is run over 836-steps/38 floors; very close to the distance of race one at the World Championship. Back in February, Lobodzinski took a fairly comfortable win there, finishing 11 seconds ahead of Germany’s Christian ‘The Eclipse’ Riedl.

But go a bit further back to the Grand Prix of Europe races in Vienna and Brno in September 2017 and Showtime looks a lot more mortal over the shorter distance.

At the 779-step Danube Tower in Vienna, Lobodzinski beat ‘The Zilina Avalanche’ Tomas Celko by just one second. The following day in Brno, Czech Republic, at the 700-step AZ Tower, it was Celko who came out on top, finishing three seconds ahead of Showtime.

Mark Bourne tends not to compete at shorter distances, purely because the towers with races in Australia and Asia are massive. Estimating how he might do over 824 steps is an all-important unknown.

But Lobodzinski can be taken on the short course. Celko and Riedl will be pushing him hard for sure, and he is in no way guaranteed maximum points in that first race. On the long course, his dominance is a bit more established and he is very rarely beaten. But Bourne can beat him over that distance and he has done it several times before.

Bourne vs Lobodzinski: a recent history

These two have clashed multiple times, and the Australian has probably beaten Lobodzinski in the mega-towers more times than any other stair climber on the circuit has managed to do (to be fair, very few have).

In April 2017 the pair faced off at the 1st Lotte World Tower Skyrun in Seoul, Korea. The race at the fifth tallest building in the world goes up 2,917 steps. Bourne kept Lobodzinski in second place there, finishing 14 seconds ahead of him.

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Mark Bourne wins the Lotte World Tower Sky Run 2017

Then in October 2017, Bourne took victory ahead of Showtime when they raced at Two Shanghai IFC in China. That was over 1,958 steps and Bourne won by nine seconds.

Three weeks later they met again at the 1,621-step Harukas Tower in Osaka, Japan, and Lobodzinski exacted revenge on ‘The Canberra Assassin’, finishing 13 seconds ahead.

Two weeks after that, it was Lobodzinski again who took the spoils, this time at the mammoth 3,398-stair Shanghai Tower, the second-tallest building in the world. Bourne was pushed back into third by Christian Riedl.

La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in March was the last time the pair met. Lobodzinski made it four wins in a row at the iconic Parisian landmark, while Bourne finished in fourth.

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Lobodzinski on his way to winning La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2018

So, despite Lobodzinski having the upper hand in their last three races, Bourne has shown on multiple occasions that he is more than a match. He has the ability to win the full-length race on Saturday.

How do they compare at Taipei 101?

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If we go back a little further and compare the two at Taipei 101, we add another potentially significant element to the discussion.

In 2013 Bourne beat Lobodzinski by 20 seconds on his way to setting the third fastest time ever clocked at the tower. Riedl was third.

In 2014, the podium looked exactly the same. This time, though, Lobodzinski had significantly narrowed the gap and was only four seconds behind Bourne.

Bourne was missing from the race in 2015, and Lobodzinski took his first and only win at the venue.

Neither man was there in 2016, and Bourne returned last year to take victory, with Lobodzinski absent.

So, between the two, Bourne has the fastest time at the World Championship venue and the most recent win. This is sure to give him the confidence to look beyond the most recent results between them at other towers.

If Bourne can stay within touching distance of Showtime in the shorter distance race, i.e. no more than one place behind him, then he will put himself in genuine contention for seriously competing for the title in the final race on Saturday morning.

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