Posts Tagged ‘Valtellina stair climb Italy’

April’s a relatively quiet month for UK tower running, with just the Care International event at the Leadenhall Building in London taking place on Saturday 14th.

But globally there have been lots of races so far this month, with events in Estonia, Italy and the USA among others, showcasing the truly international face of competitive stair running.

Read on for our pick of the stair climbing results from around the world this April, and find out the latest nicknames on the circuit.

April 1st – Estonian Towerrunning Championships 2018, TV Tower, Tallinn


Rauno ‘Ebajalg’ Tiits secured victory at the inaugural Estonian Tower Running Championship with a blistering run to the top of the 870-step TV Tower in the Estonian capital.

His winning time of 4.35 was also a new course record. Fans of UK tower running will be familiar with the name Tiits, as the Estonian took the win at last November’s double-run event at London’s Broadgate Tower ahead of some of the top UK stair climbers.

In second place was Poland’s Arkadiusz ‘Street Fighter’ Karbowy, another familiar name to those who follow UK stair climbing. His lightning quick time of 4.46 (the only other sub-five minute finish on the day) will come as no surprise to those who’ve seen him flying up the Tower Wing of Guy’s Hospital during training.

Rimo ‘Special Sauce’ Tiim finished third in 5.04.

In the women’s division it was a more one-sided affair with Estonian sporting star Kaisa ‘The Gift’ Kukk winning in an unrivalled 5.46.


The newly crowned Estonian tower running champions, Rauno Tiits and Kaisa Kukk.

Kukk is no stranger to sporting success. A sub-three hour marathoner, she has multiple wins in a wide range of race distances under her belt and so her transition to tower running success was no doubt expected among the Estonian athletic community.

It’s her second win of the season already, and we expect big things from Kukk if she makes stair climbing her focus. On a separate note, she’s also our tower running WCW this week. Fire!

Her nearest challenge came from Poland’s Ilona ‘Leg Breaker’ Gradus, winner of the Marriott Everest Run in Warsaw back in February, and a top ten finisher at other Polish events already this year. She hit the top step in 6.39, some way back from Kukk.

Liina ‘The DJ’ Volmerson, winner of the Saucony Trekking Championship stair race series in 2017 (alongside Rauno Tiits), finished third in 7.03.

The experience and pedigree of Kukk’s rivals makes her overwhelming winning margin all the more impressive.

Full results here.


April 7th – Fight for Air Climb Newark 2018, One Gateway Center, New Jersey


“The Beast from the East” Stephen Marsalese made light work of it at the ALA Fight for Air Climb in Newark.

The stair climbing veteran, and perennial podium finisher around the East Coast events, was the only person to go under the coveted three-minute mark as he scaled the 504 steps of One Gateway Center in 2.48.

His Tower Masters team mate, 63-year old Mark ‘The Immortal Whisper’ Greenlee, was behind him in 3.18, improving on his fifth place finish from last year. Last year’s fourth placed finisher, Ted ‘Uber Jock’ Enoch, took third this time around in a time of 3.32.56

Special mention to the speedy 13 year old who finished in fourth place in 3.32.81 – missing out on a podium spot by the very narrowest of margins. He’s so exquisitely named he needs no adornments from us. Fly Talon Falcone, fly!!

‘Champagne’ Sally Kalksma made it a double win for the Tower Masters team as she returned to winning ways following her international adventures last month at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel in Paris.


Sally Kalksma at the start line of La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel 2018

Kalksma clocked 4.39 to secure the win from Mary ‘Warlord’ Cataudella (5:02) and Nina ‘The Mason’ Mikkilineni (5.06). Full results available here.


Kalksma and Marsalese celebrate their wins (bottom) and pose with fellow Tower Master runners.

April 7th – Ginormous Climb 2018 – 200 Clarendon (John Hancock Tower), Boston


Ginormous is an underrated and underused word, but we’re glad to see the organisers of this event, at Boston’s John Hancock Tower, have kept it front and centre for five years now.

Historically this race has attracted some big tower running names, such as Tim Donahue, but they were absent this time around.

Still, close to 400 racers turned up to climb the 1,220 stairs (61 floors) and they produced solid battles for top spot in the men’s and women’s divisions.

When the dust had settled it was Kai ‘The All Seeing Eye’ Van Horn who stood victorious with a winning time of 8.18.

11 seconds back was Samuel ‘All that glitters is not’ Goldman, while Brendan ‘The Allston Accelerator’ Harrison took third in 8.37.

The women’s division was far closer, with just ten seconds separating the top three. Elizabeth ‘Easy Work’ Burke won in a time of 10.58, with Jennifer ‘Little Bitty’ Previti right behind in 10.59. Maegan ‘Smooth Mover’ Hoover completed the trio with her 11.08 finish.

Full results here.

April 7th – Valtellina Vertical Tube Race 2018, Italy


We love this event. It’s the one event we make sure to scour the results of every year, and we have since it began back in 2015. The reason is because it gives a perfect opportunity to see how top tower runners match up against some of the world’s best mountain runners and vertical km specialists, in what is a bit of a hybrid event.

The course is a kilometer long outdoor staircase (2,700 steps) that runs straight up a mountain, alongside a hydroelectric tube that lends the event its name. So it’s technically a stair race, but so different from what tower runners are used to – no turns or railings, and outdoors – that whatever technical/strategic advantages they might have had are removed and it comes down to a straight battle of strength and endurance.

It’s one of the only races – bar arguably La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, which also includes high-level mountain runners – that you can get an idea of how the world’s elite stair climbers match up with elites from other disciplines when pitted head-to-head. For context, reigning world tower running champion Piotr Lobodzinski finished in fifth place in 2016 with a time of 14.55.

It also has a place in our heart as it’s the one international event where a British athlete has the course record. Emmie Collinge set the staggering women’s course record of 16.10 in 2016. She is the only woman to have ever run the course in under 17 minutes, managing it at the event’s first edition in 2015, too, when she finished in 16.25.

We caught up with Collinge after that debut win in 2015, and commented then that she could be the new force on the global tower running scene if she wanted to be. But alas her participation in stair races has been limited to those two stunning runs at Valtellina.

Anyway, on to the action from this year’s edition.

In the men’s event the field was understandably made up of mainly Italian competitors. But there was a decent spread of well-known tower runners and elite mountain runners from other countries in attendance, too, which included ‘Fearless’ Frank Carreno, Tomas ‘The Zilina Avalanche’ Celko and Jacob Mayer. Unfortunately there wasn’t a single British male representative at the event.

Last year’s winner, Italian Hannes Perkmann, secured victory once more with a time of 14.10, a five second improvement on his winning time in 2017. It was also the second-fastest time ever, just eight seconds off the course record of 14.02 set by Bernard Dematteis.

Perkmann is part of the Italian mountain running team and specialises in longer distance events.

Fellow Italian Alberto Vender made a massive leap from his ninth-place last year to take second place in a time of 14.44. He chopped a whopping 38 seconds off his PB in the process.

Emanuele ‘Il Guerriero’ Manzi – one of the event organisers, mountain runner and top-level tower runner – made it an all-Italian podium. He made it his third podium finish at the event (he finished sixth in 2017), finishing in his fastest ever time of 14.46.


Hannes Perkmann on his way to victory in Valtellina

The women’s race was the closest in the event’s short history. In the end it was Catalan youngster Gisela Carrion Bertran who took the spoils in 17.25, the fourth fastest time ever by a woman at the event. A well-established mountain runner and vertical km racer, Carrion Bertran possibly came in under the radar of some in attendance, but her athletic pedigree is well established.

Just behind her was 2017 winner Katarzyna Kuzminska from Italy. She managed to take 20 seconds off her winning time from last year, reaching the top of the stairs in 17.28.

Italian sporting legend and Olympic cross-country skiing relay bronze medallist Antonella Confortola took third place in 17.43. Her multi-discipline medal record of world championship and European championship podium finishes in cross-country skiing, mountain running and vertical km is highly impressive. Check it out on Wikipedia.

British interest at the event was limited to Sarah Frost who finished in 26th position in 22.25.

Full results here.


Gisela Carrion Bertran: winner of Valtellina Vertical Tube Race 2018


There were additional races in Bahrain, Canada, China, Estonia and USA this month, but full results are currently unavailable for all of them. We’ll be updating this article shortly.

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Stair climbing in the UK doesn’t yet enjoy the popularity it has in other parts of Europe and around the world. For years now our best climber, “The Marauder” Mark Sims has been holding his own against the best in the world. But apart from Sims, British athletes haven’t experienced that much success at global tower running events. Lately, Paul “The Puppet Master” Faulkner and “The Manchester Myth” Andi Jones have been performing excellently at races in the Emirates, and former Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington managed third place at ESBRU in 2012. But, given the UK’s rich sporting history and broad base of athletic talent it is surprising we haven’t had more success.

Could that be about to change?

Two weeks ago, British athlete Emmie Collinge stormed to victory at the inaugural Valtellina Vertical Tube Race in Italy, in what was her very first stair running event. We don’t use that word “stormed” lightly either. She finished 7th overall, ahead of seasoned stair runners such as Tomas Celko, Dario Fracassi and Milan Wurst! She was nearly a full two minutes faster than the second placed lady! Bear in mind it was her very first stair climb and, as it happens, she turned up at the event in jeans just to cheer on her boyfriend, before getting swept up by the imposing challenge of the course and dashing off to buy a pair of shorts so she could race. Incredible!!


Emmie Collinge on the climb to victory at Valtellina

To those with an interest in running in the UK, her success may not come as that much of a surprise. Emmie is a highly accomplished athlete with numerous victories to her name. Last summer she won the Lago di Como (65km) and Lago d’Orta (55km) ultramarathons, and in October she was victorious at the very competitive Red Bull Steeplechase (21miles) in the Peak District, winning the women’s section by almost 30minutes. She has a variety of other mountain and road race victories as well, so her caliber is well established. It is well worth reading this article she wrote for the Guardian newspaper about one of her skyrunning experiences.

We caught up with Emmie after her win at Valtellina to find how she found the stair running experience.

TRUK: Hey Emmie, congratulations on your fantastic debut. We know this hasn’t come out of nowhere so can you tell us a bit about your athletic background?

E.C: I ran a lot when I was younger but as soon as I went to university I started to neglect the sport a little. Over the past few years I’ve been slowly getting back into it. I did my first road marathon in October 2013 and that was probably when I first started training ‘seriously’ again. Last spring we moved to the border between Italy and Switzerland for work. Living in the mountains has been really inspiring, and for the first time I started to really enjoy running – for running’s sake and not for competition.

TRUK: How did you find out about the race at Valtellina? Did you do any stair specific workouts in the lead up to it?

E.C: The organisers of the Valtellina Vertical Tube (Marco De Gasperi and Emanuele Manzi, amongst others) also organised an amazing race last November called the Valtellina Wine Trail (21km and 42km), which was such a special race as you ran through wine cellars, past giant barrels, through vineyards etc). Quite unlike any race I’d ever done. Then in March they organised yet another storming race, the Santa Caterina Winter Trail, just 14km at 1,700m across the snowy mountains – incredible. So we knew that the Tube Race was set to be something pretty special.

I was never actually planning to do the race as I’ve been struggling with feet trouble since mid-January and thought that steps would seriously aggravate it. I travelled up there with my boyfriend in jeans and normal ‘street’ trainers but it was so sunny and once we saw the tube from a distance it was just too tempting! So I quickly popped into a shop and bought some shorts, borrowed my boyfriend’s club vest and decided to do it. I had been advising my boyfriend for the past 6 weeks to practice steps but we don’t have many near us and he didn’t think it would be that useful.

TRUK: So what does a typical week of training look like for you?

E.C: When my feet are normal I run every day, usually about 10-12 hours a week. I’d love to do more but work commitments keep me tied to the computer for too long each day. I rarely do intervals or road sessions, but I love running uphill on the small, but incredible, mountain behind our house.

TRUK: Can you describe the race for us, please? How did you pace it?

E.C: Normally I get really nervous but as I went to the race completely unprepared – I considered myself quite unfit so wasn’t expecting anything spectacular – I was far more relaxed than usual.

I started off running two at a time, but only very briefly! Then I just tried to be as light as possible and keep running. The crowds were incredible and that really helped – although perhaps too much initially as I think I started a bit quick. After a while I ended up a bit like a monkey and clambered, trying to spring up two at a time. It was so steep that I had to have my hands on the steps in front. Stumbled a few times as soon as I lost concentration. It was quite scarily steep! Not knowing where the finish was, or having any idea of how long it should take me, it was quite hard to judge my pace and I had more capacity left in me when I finished.

TRUK: What are your plans for the future now? Do you think you will be signing up for more stair runs, or are they just something you might do occasionally between your main races?

E.C: Definitely quite curious to try some stair races, I like my running to stay varied and fun so they’d be a welcome variation.

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The worldwide appeal of our ever-rewarding sport was on show this Saturday with races in Asia, North America and Europe. Some of the best climbers around laced up their shoes, adjusted their metronomes and said “how do you do?” to their old friend lactic acid, as they tackled varied buildings and race formats in Canada, Vietnam, Germany, Italy and the USA.

We’ll kick things off in Radebeul, Germany where a crew of hardened souls were taking on a step-marathon that matched the elevation of Mount Everest. We can’t quite make sense of the results right now but you can take a look here to see what was going on. Looks like there might have been some sort of 24hour race option there too. We heard a rumour that some guys have a strategically placed slop bucket to save themselves the ‘hassle’ of going to the proper toilet, which is a bit of a walk from the stairs. Dedication or savagery? Let us know in the comments section below!! Anyway, well done to all who braved that challenge. We salute you!

Down in Valtellina, Italy, there was the first Vertical Tube Race. This had received quite a lot of pre-race attention and attracted a strong field of athletes. They even had this awesome promo video doing the rounds in the run up to the event too.

Look at those stats!! 60% incline (in parts), 2,700 steps and 500m of vertical ascent. It looked and sounded like it was going to be a brilliant event.

Taking the win on the day was Italy’s Bernard “Ultimate Ascent” Dematteis in 14:02. The name might sound familiar, and that would be because he came third at the Eiffel Tower run up last month. Big Bernie is a very successful mountain runner and is making a strong transition to stair running, with back-to-back podium finishes. Hot on his trail was the ever-competitive Emanuele “Il Guerriero” Manzi who took second in 14:50, with Alex “Popeye” Baldaccini making it a clean sweep for Italy by finishing third in 15:02. This race is firmly on our stair climb wish list! For those of you who are into this sort of thing you can re-watch the race by clicking here. Be warned it’s a single camera shot, so there isn’t that much to see and the runners look pretty beat up by the time they reach the point of filming.


The lean figure of Bernard Dematteis during a mountain running event

There were shouts of “gooooood morning Vietnam” (probably) ringing out in the stairwell of Hanoi’s Landmark 72 on Saturday too. Climbers there were taking on 1,914 steps in the quest for victory, and top honours went to the ubiquitous Austrian Rolf “The Wanderer” Majcen, who smashed the race with a sub-11 minute finish. Surely, The Wanderer has by now secured some sort of record for the most international stair races completed? This master climber is the Phileas Fogg of the stair climbing world, and shows no signs of letting up as he consistently gets podium places and wins.

CHARITY Tower 090410

“The Wanderer” powering up the stairs at London’s Vertical Rush

Victory in the women’s section was reserved for another outsider as Australia’s Cindy “Need for Speed” Reid charged to the top in 14:33, which also earned her a top-10 overall spot. Cindy is an experienced personal trainer who lives in Hong Kong, where she is a Director of The HIT Room. It seems Australian domination of the Asian tower running scene isn’t limited to Suzy Walsham. Good going Cindy!!

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