Posts Tagged ‘Towerrunning’


2003 Paul Crake (AUS) 4:35  Yamilka González (CUB) 6:26
2005 Javier Jover (ESP) 4:42  Sandra Ruales (ESP) 6:24
2006 Juan Antonio Fernández (ESP) ?  Jesica Núñez (ESP) ?
2007 Juan Antonio Fernández (ESP) 4:53  Verónica Gil Brotons (ESP) 6:04 – results
2008 Tomas Dold (GER) 4:40  Wafiya Benali (MAR) 5:47 – results
2009 Just Sociats (ESP) 5:06  Wafiya Benali (MAR) 6:01 – results
2010 Ignacio Cardona (ESP) 4:41  Wafiya Benali (MAR) 5:44 – results
2011 Angel Llorens Zafra (ESP) 4:41  Judith Corachán (ESP) 6:48 – results
2012 Angel Llorens Zafra (ESP) 4:37  Judith Corachán (ESP) 6:00 – results
2013 Angel Llorens Zafra (ESP) 4:38  Judith Corachán (ESP) – 6:21 – results
2014 Angel Llorens Zafra (ESP) 4:33  Rosi Llorens Zafra (ESP) – 6:34 – results
2015 Tomas Celko (SVK) 4:39  Lenka Svabikova (CZE) 5:47 – results
2016 Chistian Riedl (GER) 4:20*  Iwona Wicha (POL) – 5:55 – results
2017 Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) 4:26  Lenka Svabikova (CZE) 5:56 – results
2018 Christian Riedl (GER) 4:23 – men’s results
Wafiya Benali (MAR) 5:43 – women’s results
2019 Gorge Heimann (GER) 4:37  – men’s results
Suzy Walsham (AUS) 5:31*women’s results

* course records

Find out all the winners from other events around the world in our historical tower running results database.

1906 eiffel tower race

Tower running returned to the Eiffel Tower in 1906, as athletes from around France gathered to see if they could break the course record set the year before.

At the time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world, and on 26th November 1905 it had hosted what is believed to be the first recorded tower race in history. On that day, cyclist Eugene Forestier was the fastest up the 729 steps that led to the second platform of the tower. His winning time was 3:12.80.

A year on from that inaugural event and some of the best athletes from the French running and cycling scene arrived in Paris with one goal in mind; break Forestier’s record. Find out about the Eiffel Tower stair race of 1905, or read on for the story of the second edition.

Championnat de la tour Eiffel 1906

The second Eiffel Tower stair race took place on Sunday 18th November 1906. As it had been the year before, the event was organised by a publication called Les Sports.

Once again, the race involved running up 729 steps to the second platform (of three) of the tower. The reason they didn’t run to the top is the organisers felt the stairs on the upper levels were too narrow, and that it could have proved dangerous once the stairwell became crowded.

1906 crowds

Crowds of spectators gather underneath the Eiffel Tower to watch the athletes run

Far less people signed up for the second edition than had attended the debut race. In 1905, 300 people had signed up, with 283 making it to the start line. This time around, 200 people signed up but only 140 (some reports say 150) eventually lined up to race.

Although there were fewer people in attendance, the quality of athletes was stronger. Back to defend his title was Eugene Forestier, the cyclist who had won the race in 1905 in a time of 3:12.80.

Joining him were a host of ‘champions’, although newspaper reports fail to specify exactly what they had won. But, further research has revealed at least some of the accomplishments of a few of those in attendance.

Among those listed as ‘champions of France’ were Eugene Neveu (a top long-distance runner, up to marathon distance) – L. Orphée (a cyclist), L. Mosnier and E. Fantou.

According to a report in La Liberté, the ‘Belgian champion’ Verstraete was also there. We were unable to find records relating to that name, but a François Verstraeten was a top level cyclist at the time, who had won the Paris to Ostend race in 1906 and went on to become the Belgian Road Champion in 1907 and 1908. It may be him they were referring to.

Louis Bouchard, billed as ‘champion of Paris’ was there, too. A year earlier, he had been the French record holder for the 10,000m with a time of 33:14, but that record had since been eclipsed by his great rival, Gaston Ragueneau.

Bouchard has finished second behind Ragueneau at the French Cross Country Championship in 1905 and 1906.

louis bouchard

Louis Bouchard (l) and Gaston Ragueneau race for the finish line at the Challenge de La Nézière in 1905

Louis bouchard 2

Louis Bouchard (41) in the lead (ahead of Ragueneau) at the Paris Cross Country Championship, 1905

Other runners and cyclists singled out for mention in the newspapers were Louis Prévôt, L. Mephisto, E. Figniez, Tonnin and Piel. Although some of these names pop up in race records from around the time, it’s been difficult to find firm details on any of these men.

L.Orphee 1905

Champion cyclist, L. Orphée

The racers were split into different waves depending on which federation or category they belonged to. Category winners would receive a gold-plated medal, while second place would take home ‘an artistic medal’.

In the women’s wave, Mme. Baube was the only competitor to finish (or possibly even start) and won by default. She climbed the 739 steps in 7:44 (or 7:26 according to one report).

Mme Baube 1906

Mme. Baube, winner of the women’s division at the 1906 Eiffel Tower stair climb

Finishing in around the same time as Mme. Baube was a Mr. Wachoru, who climbed all the steps in 7:37. The key difference being he did it while carrying a 50kg sack on his back.

1906 50kg bag climb


In the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques wave, L. Frederick clocked 3:25 to win bragging rights among his fellow federation members. He was followed by Agogué in 3:43 and Ceroni in 3:50.

All eyes were on the wave of runners from the Union Vélocipédique de France, as among them was the 1905 winner, Eugene Forestier.

Unfortunately for Forestier, he was unable to repeat his triumph and had to settle for second place in his wave. Thiebaut finished in 3:18.40 and Forestier in 3:19.40. In third place was Chenot in 4:01.

1906 Thiebaut

Thiebaut on his way to winning his wave

Next up were athletes from La Fédération cycliste et athlétique de France (FCAF). Fastest among them was Peuvrel, who clocked 3:56.20.

In the Indépendants category, a strong performance from J. Bielen saw him go into the overall lead, ahead of Thiebaut, with a time of 3:18.20. G. Lepage followed in 3:36.20, just ahead of Goulet in 3:37.60.

Apparently Bielen’s father was one of the people who painted the Eiffel Tower after the completion of its construction in 1889.

1906 J Bielen

J. Bielen finished in 3:18.20

1906 eiffel tower race

J. Bielen poses for a photo

With Forestier failing to clock the fastest time, he had to stand by and see if anyone in the Professionnels category might take the title ahead of Bielen.

Three members of the Club des Sports – L. Prévôt , L. Mephisto and E. Neveu – all finished ahead of Bielen and beat the previous course record.

1906 Eiffel tower race 2

Orphée, Neveu and Mephisto (l-r) on the stairs of the Eiffel Tower

1906 climbers

Club des Sports: Orphée, Mephisto and Neveu (front to back) pose for a photo (although it seems unusual that it’s not Prévôt alongside Neveu and Mephisto, the original caption says it’s Orphée)

Louis Prévôt finished in 3:12.40, beating the existing record by less than half a second. L. Mephisto then smashed that time when he reached the top in 3:04.40.

But overall victory went to the long-distance runner, Eugene Neveu. He won by the narrowest of margins with a time of 3:04 flat.

1906 Neveu winner

Eugene Neveu, winner of the Eiffel Tower stair climb 1906

‘Neveu’s time of 3:04 is simply wonderful, as it beats Forestier’s record by 8 seconds. We saw how much effort the victor had to produce to accomplish such a feat’, wrote one reporter.

Although 140-150 competitors lined up at the start, it was reported that only 93 completed the course. ‘A magnificent average’, according to one newspaper, ‘if one thinks of the effort that must be made to climb 730 steps in one go.’

If only they knew what the future held.

Championnat de la Tour Eiffel 1906 results (top six):

  • E. Neveu – 3:04
  • L. Mephisto – 3:04.40
  • L. Prévôt – 3:12.40
  • J. Bielen – 3:18.20
  • Thiebaut – 3:18.40
  • E. Forestier – 3:19.40

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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.

London skyline

This year saw the fewest number of stair climb events in the UK since 2014.

In 2015, a then record 14 stair running events seemed to herald a new era for the sport in the UK. This boom continued for a spell and in 2018 there were 16 pure stair races.

But this year the number of events has dropped off and the looming loss of another big race next year is casting a shadow over the future of tower running in the UK.

What’s the problem? Is it just a blip or is UK tower running in trouble?

Tower running is too London-centric

While it makes sense that the ‘home’ of tower running in the UK should be London – the proliferation of tall buildings is ideal ground for an HQ – it’s a necessity for the growth and promotion of the sport that opportunities are available for people in other parts of the country to take part as well. Unfortunately, these opportunities are disappearing.

In the last six years there have been stair races in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth (we’re not including stadium stomps in this analysis, but Edinburgh would be included if we were). Planned events for Middlesbrough and Liverpool didn’t quite come to fruition for varying reasons, but for a time the scene outside of London was seemingly healthy and growing.

But in 2019 only Leicester and Manchester have hosted stair races outside of the capital. And, at the time of writing, the Christie Tower Run at Manchester’s Beetham Tower won’t be returning in 2020.

Not only has the sport’s spread throughout the country ceased, it’s fallen apart completely. It’s a massive disappointment.

Fortunately, London should be hosting a good set of stair races for the foreseeable future. But there’s a catch.

Tower running poverty: the reliance on charities


Although saddening, it’s no massive surprise that almost all the events that were once run around the country have ground to a halt.

Apart from the Spinnaker Tower-thon event in Portsmouth, every one of those events was put on by a charity. The events teams in those often small organisations are solely focused on getting the maximum return from every event they organise. If for just one year they don’t get the sort of return they expected or needed from the work and investment they put in, they often call time on their venture into stair racing and move onto promoting alternative activities that are more profitable for the charity.

But it’s not just a problem for charities. Even without any charity connection or fundraising minimum, plus a very reasonable entry fee of around £15, the Spinnaker Tower-thon struggled to attract the sorts of numbers needed to make it worth their while to continue hosting it. After a handful of years they called it a day.

Sometimes a charity will ride out a small turnout in the first year or two and dig in to see the event grow and grow. The LOROS Tower Run in Leicester is a brilliant example of this. They’ve been growing year-on-year since they launched in 2015, and hopefully 2020 will be their biggest event yet. They even offer a highly reasonable flat entry fee with no fundraising requirement, which has been very well received by the tower running diehards here in the UK.

But fundraising continues to be a challenge for committed stair climbers. Of the six stair races in London this year (we’ve excluded the multi-event Guy’s Urban Challenge that finishes with a stair climb), only one of them offered a straightforward non-fundraising entry at a reasonable price; the Broadgate Tower Run-Up back in July.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) event at the Walkie Talkie Building, Shelter’s Vertical Rush, the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge and the Rainbow Trust’s Grate48 event at the Leadenhall Building all require, for the most part, a commitment to raise at least £130 for the charity (GOSH are asking for £250).

There are some small exceptions, though. For £149 you can take part in the Gherkin Challenge without having to raise any additional funds – the alternative is to pay £20 entry and fundraise £250.

For most of the regular UK tower runners who tend to pay outright for their events, to save them the hassle of constant fundraising, the self-funded option provides a not insignificant saving of over £120. But paying £149 for a race lasting less than six and a half minutes for most of them isn’t really sustainable, especially if you’re hoping to do multiple races each year.

The race organiser on behalf of the Rainbow Trust’s Grate48 has managed to secure 10 male and 10 female entry fee only places for that event in November, which is fantastic. Everyone else, though, will have to pledge to raise £130 to take part.

Access is everything

"Security staff at the Shard, London."

The fact is, there wouldn’t be a tower running community in the UK if it wasn’t for these charities putting on these events. So there is a deep gratitude there, for sure. It’s highly unlikely anybody would be racing inside the Gherkin, Leadenhall or Tower 42 if it wasn’t for the charity connection. But that’s also the problem.

Vertical Rush and the Gherkin Challenge have each been running for over a decade, but will they run for another decade? If, for whatever reason, these charities decide this means of fundraising isn’t working for them anymore and stop organising the events, the ‘sport’ of tower running in the UK will very likely disappear.

Will any of London’s big towers open up for non-charity affiliated stair climbing events? So far, only Broadgate Tower has done so. Perhaps others will in the future, but its a precarious position to be in for a ‘sport’ whose followers and advocates have ambitious notions of international legitimacy and even Olympic participation.

You simply can’t build a sport on the back of just a handful of venues that could potentially deny participants access at the drop of a hat, with nobody in the tower running community having any say or impact in the decision making process.

Of course this isn’t a problem for the UK only. Tower runners around the world face the same issues, whether its the dominance of charities in the organisation of races or just general issues with access.

Hope for the future?

Hopefully, the fantastic London-based Total Motion Events will continue their excellent work putting on events at Broadgate Tower, regardless. Their Total Motion Towerrunners group has seen a big rise in interest and they’re now hosting training sessions at Broadgate Tower in London two nights a week. The relationship between Total Motion and Broadgate Tower is certainly a cause for much needed optimism.


London’s Broadgate Tower is host to weekly tower running training sessions

Participation at Vertical Rush, LOROS Tower Run, the Gherkin Challenge is all on the rise, so that’s another positive. But if the number of events held each year continues to fall, the tower running eggs begin to drop into one basket held by the charities, and that’s a problem. If they call time on their respective events, the bottom falls out of it all.

The loss (still to be fully confirmed) of the Christie Tower Run is a blow, but 2020 may yet see the return of other races, such as the popular UpSlideDown event at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London’s Olympic Park which didn’t run this year. It’s to be seen.

Perhaps as tower running garners increased attention, more race organisers will sit up and explore options for putting on stair climbs at alternative venues. There are certainly enough options in London. Tower running doesn’t just have to function around the high-profile towers – although it would be nice.

People have been running stairs in the capital since at least 1730 and one of the first competitive stair races in London was organised back in 1968. Ideally, with this rich base, the sport would be further along in its development.

Ultimately, towers aren’t purposely built for people to race in, so, in order to take part in their chosen sport, tower runners will always be reliant on people whose main interest isn’t tower running. Benevolent real estate moguls with a diehard passion for stair running aside, that means the power will forever be out of the hands of tower runners.

Tower running could have a bright future in the UK, but unfortunately achieving that doesn’t rest solely with those who have a love for it. And that’s a real tough spot to be in.

Sarah Frost smashed her own course record at the Broadgate Tower Run Up last Saturday to win the London leg of the Vertical World Circuit.

The British athlete held off competition from a loaded field of international stair climbers to reach the top of the 877-step tower in 4:40.

‘I feel amazing right now,’ Frost said at the top of the building in the City of London. ‘My plan was to forget what everyone else was doing and focus on my own goal which was breaking the five-minute barrier.’

‘My training must have paid off because I smashed it. I’m so very happy to be at Broadgate, a really special race for me because I train here and it’s so great to have the VWC here as well, bringing in lots more elite athletes. I’m already looking forward to the next race.’

Frost’s previous record of 5:04 was also bettered by four other women, with three of them dipping under five minutes.

Yuko Tateishi (JPN) was second in 4:52, while Anais Leroy (FRA) took third in 4:55.

Watanabe destroys men’s record

Japanese tower runner Ryoji Watanabe took an incredible 17 seconds off the previous men’s course record as he stormed to victory in 3:41.

Watanabe’s victory brings him up to fifth position in the current VWC rankings, and follows on from his win last month at One World Trade Center in New York.

‘As London is quite far from my country, Japan, I’m very happy to win the Broadgate Tower Run Up,’ Watanabe said at the finish. ‘I’m also very excited to have won two races of the 2019 Vertical World Circuit. Because the course was shorter than other VWC races, it was difficult for me to adjust during the race, but I was able to prepare the strategy for London after my New York win and perform well. I’ll be doing my best to win the next VWC race in Beijing in August.’

British newcomer Laurence Ball continued his incredible start to tower running by taking second place in 4:00.06.

Ball won his debut tower race at the Walkie Talkie Building back in March, and followed it up with a fourth-place finish at Vertical Rush two weeks later.

This great video captures some of the action from the day.

Full Broadgate Tower Run Up results

Thomas Dold towerrunning

Would you fancy your chances of beating a top tower runner if you could run up an escalator while they took the stairs?

A few years back, brave commuters at the Stadtmitte S-Bahn station in downtown Stuttgart got the chance to go up seven-time winner of the Empire State Building Run-Up, Thomas Dold.

The tower running superstar took the stairs, while members of the public, kitted out in full on safety gear, ran up the escalator beside him to see if they could beat him to the top.

Watch the video below to see how they all got on. This would make a great stunt in a London station ahead of one of the big charity climbs!


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