Posts Tagged ‘Towerrunning World Championship 2020’

Andrea Mayr 2019

In a sport as small and widely ignored as tower running, you’d be forgiven for having never heard of one its finest practitioners. Even more so when you consider this legend has routinely dipped in and out of the sport over a 15-year period, gracing it with short, but lasting, flashes of brilliance before disappearing from the scene for years at a time.

Although you may never have heard of her, Andrea Mayr is one of the best athletes in the world. She’s a six-time world mountain running champion, the course record holder and three-time winner at the Empire State Building Run-Up, the fastest woman to have run up Taipei 101 and has represented Austria at the World Athletics Championships (3000m SC, 2005) and Olympic Games (marathon, 2012 and 2016).

In 2015, after a long break from stair climbing, Mayr came down from the mountains to win the Towerrunning World Championship in Doha, Qatar. Then she disappeared again. What’s she been up to?

Four successful years

You could fill a small book detailing what Andrea Mayr’s been doing in the past four years. What follows¬†is only a snapshot of the accolades she’s bagged during this period. There’s way too much to cover in detail.

She won the World Mountain Running Championship and the World Mountain Running Association World Cup (WMRA) in 2016.

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Andrea Mayr on her way to winning the 2016 World Mountain Running Championship

In 2017, she was second at the World Mountain Running Championship and third at the European Mountain Running Championship. She also won the vertical race at the Ski Mountaineering World Championship that year.

In 2018 she won the WMRA World Cup and the Red Bull 400 World Championship.

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Mayr begins to pull away at the Red Bull 400 World Championship 2018

In among that busy 2018 season, Mayr was invited to partake in the Towerrunning World Championships at Taipei 101 in May.

But she was forced to withdraw due to injury, denying her the chance to defend the world title she’d won in 2015.

In terms of participation on the stairs, that news that she wouldn’t be able to compete was pretty much the last the tower running community heard about Mayr.

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Andrea Mayr wins the 2015 Towerrunning World Championships

But, as we head into another Towerrunning World Championship year, attention turns her way once more.

A wildcard entry to the event at Taipei 101 in May 2020 will be extended to the Austrian. Whether she decides to accept it is another matter. We can but hope.

It’s worth noting that Mayr is a medical doctor, working the long shifts associated with that profession and still taking examinations. The fact she has found time to put in the training required to stay at the top of the world mountain running and ski mountaineering circuit is miraculous. And that busy schedule could be an issue.

When she returned in 2015 to win the Towerrunning World Championship, she did so with no stair workouts. Suzy Walsham came within a whisker of beating her day.

If Mayr decides to come back next year she may want to set aside some time for tower running specific workouts that will put her in the best position to contend with Walsham, the resurgent Valentina Belotti and who knows who else.

But will she be able to find time? Will she even want to come back?

There’s much to ponder.

But let’s see where Mayr is now. We pick up her trail in the first quarter of 2019.

Ski mountaineering World Championships

On Wednesday 13th March 2019, Mayr was in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland for the Ski mountaineering World Championships.

When Mayr had won the title in 2017, she had done so as somewhat of an underdog against younger emerging stars like Emelie Forsberg. But this year, as the defending champion, there was far more expectation on her.

In ski-mountaineering, Mayr prefers steep courses. With her strong mountain running background, she is no stranger to routes with big vertical gains, and she was anticipating a steep course at these world champs.

But due to safety concerns as a result of adverse weather conditions, the race organisers were forced to change the route to a flatter one just a day before the event. The 4km course would take in 420m of vertical gain.

The change made Mayr nervous. But you’d never have guessed as she stormed to back-to-back titles.

You can see her in action in the video below and hear her thoughts on the race.

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Vertical kilometer course record at Trofeo Nasego

On Saturday 18th May, in rain swept Casto, Italy, Mayr went head-to-head with long-time rival Andrea Belotti. The battleground this time was the tough vertical kilomoter race at the Trofeo Nasego mountain running event.

Mayr was in majestic form as she broke the previous course record by more than four minutes, to finish in 38:39.

Clips from her winning run – from start line to finish – can be seen in the first minute and a bit of the video below.

Austrian Mountain Running Championship

On Sunday 2nd June, the Internationaler Raiffeisen Lipizzanerheimat Berglauf doubled as the Austrian national mountain running championships.

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Mayr completely dominated the race. She completed the 9.2km course (with 1,075 gain) in 52:20, over seven minutes faster than the second-placed woman.

Course record at Katrinberglauf

As the 2018 champion and course record holder at the Katrinberglauf in Austria, Mayr returned to the mountain on Sunday 16th June to defend her title.

She continued her run of outstanding form to take almost a minute off her previous best time.

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Andrea Mayr leads out the field at the Katrinberglauf 2019

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Crossing icy ground on her way to setting a new course record

European Mountain Running Championships

Winner in 2005 and 2013-2015, and then third in 2017, the Austrian has a great record at these championships.

On Sunday, 7th July in Zermatt, Switzerland she was back to challenge Europe’s best once again. The race was across a 10.1 km course with 1,030 meters of ascent.

Standing between Mayr and a fifth title was the incredible Swiss athlete, Maude Mathys, winner in 2017 and 2018.

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Mayr during the European Mountain Running Championships 2019

Despite maintaining a narrow lead in the first half of the race over the steeper parts of the course, Mayr was reeled back in by the younger Mathys as the course leveled out in the second half.

Mayr finished second, a minute back from Mathys who secured her third European crown in a row.

Piz Tri Vertical

A little under a month later (Saturday 3rd August), Mayr was back in Italy for another battle with Valentina Belotti at a vertical kilometer race (across a 3.5km course).

At the 2018 edition of the event, the Austrian had broken Belotti’s course record. The 38:11 she ran that day was called a ‘phenomenal’ and ‘sensational’ time.

That reporter would have done well to keep some superlatives back for the 2019 race report, because Mayr obliterated that record as she crossed the line in 37:20.

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On the course of the Piz Tri Vertical 2019

Red Bull 400 Bischofshofen

Three weeks later (Saturday 24th August), Mayr was on home soil to take part in the Red Bull 400 race in Bischofshofen.

She was looking to win the event for the fourth time in a row, and was squaring off against fellow Austrian multi-sport athlete, and tower runner, Veronika Windisch.

Mayr won in a brilliant 3:52, followed by Windisch in 4:44 and Finland’s Mila Koljonen in 4:46.

‘I really felt very good from the beginning and especially in the last part, where the spectators are so close. You feel really motivated,’ she told Red Bull. ‘I’m really happy with the race. It’s a competition that really is a lot of fun and that’s one of the main reasons I participate.’

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Pulling away at the Red Bull 400 Bischofshofen

Back to the Hochfelln-Berglauf

As the course record holder and nine-time winner of the Hochfelln-Berglauf, including five straight wins from 2014-2018, Mayr was expected to secure an astonishing 10th title when she returned to the event on Sunday 29th September.

And she did. It was the slowest winning time of all of her victories, but she still finished three and a half minutes ahead of second place.

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Mayr completed the roughly 9km course (with 1,074m of vertical gain) in 49:51.

Hochfelln podium 2019

Ten-time winner of the Hochfelln-Berglauf

What’s next?

So, after that snapshot of her stacked 2019 season, this is where we find the magisterial Andrea Mayr.

On Friday 15th November in Villa La Angostura, Argentina the World Mountain Running Championships will take place. Mayr will likely be planning to be in attendance to see if she can win a seventh title. She finished 6th in 2018.

Beyond that is the Towerrunning World Championship at Taipei 101 in May, 2020.

By the time that comes around it will be almost 15 years since she set the course record of 12:38 at the tower in November, 2005.

Will we get to see one of the best tower runners of all time race again?

We can only hope.

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