Posts Tagged ‘Vertical World Circuit’

walsham VWC 2019

Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski retained their Vertical World Circuit (VWC) titles yesterday at the grand finale in Osaka, Japan.

It was the eighth straight title for Australia’s Walsham, who first won the series back in 2012, and a sixth title for Piotr Lobodzinski.

The ten-event series has seen close races around the world throughout 2019. Starting in Seoul back in April, runners have since done battle in Milan, Ho Chi Minh City, Paris, New York, London, Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai before the final race on Sunday (Nov. 10) in Osaka.

The 1,610-step Abeno Harukas was the venue for the final event.

Heading into the race, Lobodzinski needed to place at least second to be certain of retaining his title. With a resurgent Mark Bourne (AUS) in the mix, and Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) seeking his first VWC title it was not an easy situation for the Polish world champion.

But in the end he did enough. Mark Bourne took the win with a new course record of 8:29 and Lobodzinski followed in 8:43. His second-place finish enough to earn him the overall Vertical World Circuit 2019 crown.

Harukas Skyrun men’s results:

  1. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 8:29
  2. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 8:43
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 9:02
  4. Kato Satoshi (JPN) – 9:19
  5. Liang Liang He (CHN) – 9:41

‘Of course, I wanted to win today, but my shape is not as good as in spring. Mark was better and I had no chance to win the race but the points I collected in the first part of the season were enough to secure my sixth title in a row so I’m very happy and glad to be on top for so long,’ Lobodzinski told reporters after the race.

Eight straight for Walsham

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And then there were 8! 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 When I was first crowned Vertical World Circuit champion at the end of the 2012 season, it was my first full successful year after pregnancy and I was excited to see where this newish sport would take me. While I try not to put limits on myself, I still never really expected to still be competing and doing well 8 years later! Despite my advancing years and the body not quite holding up like it used to, I still aim for improvement and I’m still as motivated and determined as ever in my training and racing. It’s not possible to have this kind of success year in, year out without an amazing team behind me. So a big thank you to: – @david_freer for your love, support, guidance, encouragement and for holding the fort at home when I am frequently away racing. – my family, friends and fellow athletes from all over the world who also encourage, support and motivate me. – the companies who help me be the best athlete I can be: @nike @drgarytho @alpnutrition_official @simplyactiveasia – the @verticalworldcircuit for organising the Circuit and supporting the athletes. A special shout out to @sportingrepublic and @dshinhk for managing/directing so many of the races. I’m already excited for 2020! #worldchampion #8times #verticalworldcircuit #vwc19 #nolimits #consistency #motivation #determination #beyourbest #neverstoptrying #nevergiveup #goals #dreams #fitnessmotivation #towerrunning #verticalrunning #justdoit #seeyouinthestairs #theonlywayisup

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In the final of the women’s event, Suzy Walsham only needed to finish in fifth place to be sure of winning an incredible eighth VWC title.

Giving her the title, then, was in part mere formality, as you probably have to go back to 2011 to find the last time the Australian star didn’t finish on the podium at a tower run.

But the race still had to be run and Walsham put in a blistering performance to take the win and finish in 10:18, just four seconds off the course record set by Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi in 2017.

Harukas Skyrun women’s results:

  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 10:18:
  2. Laura Manninen (FIN) – 11:07
  3. Yuko Tateishi (JPN) – 11:30
  4. Kumi Kinoshita (JPN) – 11:59
  5. Mie Takahashi (JPN) – 12:02

‘I’m thrilled to win here in Osaka at the 2019 Vertical World Circuit final and achieve my eighth straight world title,’ said Walsham. ‘I had a strong run, although I was a little disappointed to just miss the record, but it’s hard to be at your absolute peak for every race. It’s been a great year of racing and I’m already looking forward to VWC 2020!’

2019 Vertical World Circuit final standings:
Men

  1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 567 points
  2. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 561 points
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 539.5 points
  4. Emanuele Manzi (ITA) – 454 points
  5. Omar Bekkali (BEL) – 420 points

Women

  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 600 points
  2. Laura Manninen (FIN) – 533 points
  3. Yuko Tateishi (JPN) – 461.5 points
  4. Sarah Frost (GBR) – 449.5 points
  5. Cristina Bonacina (ITA) – 359 points

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Mark Bourne won the Race to Shanghai IFC this morning to become the first person to beat world champion Piotr Lobodzinski in 2019.

The Australian mountain running star reached the top of the 1,460-step tower in 7:58, ahead of Lobodzinski, who finished in 8:05.

Bourne, who set the course record of 7:42 in 2016, was back on the tower running circuit for the first time since May. But the five month break from the stairs (albeit filled with mountain running) seems to have done the Canberra man no harm at all.

‘I’m very happy to come here and win up this building again. It’s the sixth time I’ve been here and I always enjoy coming back. I’ve won it four times now. I’m looking forward to Osaka in three weeks’ time. I’ve done some very good times there in the past so looking forward to finishing off the season strongly,’ said Bourne.

The race on Sunday morning was the fifth occasion the long-time rivals had met this season, with Lobodzinski having won each of those races.

Heading into the event, Lobodzinski was on an 11-race win streak and was hoping to maintain his unbeaten run to the end of the season.

But on this particular course, the world number one has often struggled to beat Bourne, and once again he found himself undone.

It was the first time since 2014 that Lobodzinski failed to finish in under eight minutes.

Third place on the day went to Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe who finished in 8:17.

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Piotr Lobodzinski and Mark Bourne renew their rivalry this coming Sunday (20 October) in the eighth round of the Vertical World Circuit series in Shanghai, China.

The pair have faced off three times in the Vertical World Circuit this year, with Lobodzinski coming out on top on each occasion.

At the 2,917-step Lotte World Tower International Sky Run in Seoul, back at the start of April, Lobodzinski set a new course record of 15:37 – a huge 16 second improvement on his previous fastest time. Bourne himself ran a magnificent race to finish just two seconds behind in 15:39.

A week later the pair went head-to-head again in Milan, at the 1,027-step Allianz Tower.

At the finish, less than a second separated them. But once again it was Lobodzinski who came out on top, setting a new course record of 5:16 in the process.

Two weeks later the Australian had another chance to attempt to beat his Polish rival. The action returned to Asia for the inaugural Vinpearl Luxury Landmark 81 – Race to the Summit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 2,383 steps stood between the bottom and the top of the world’s 14th tallest tower.

Once again Lobodzinski took the win. His finishing time of 11:35 was a massive 50 seconds faster than Bourne’s.

VWC 2018 winner Lobodzinski

Piotr Lobodzinski won the Vertical World Circuit title in 2018

Now the action heads to Shanghai, where the pair have been swapping wins over the past few seasons.

Bourne vs Lobodzinski: Race to Shanghai IFC

2014
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:55)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (8:10)

2015
Winner: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:54)
Runner-up: Mark Bourne (8:22)

2016
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:42 – course record)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:47)

2017
Winner: Mark Bourne (7:44)
Runner-up: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:53)

2018
Winner: Piotr Lobodzinski (7:43)
Runner-up: Mark Bourne (7:59)

Heading into Sunday’s clash, Lobodzinski is confident he can maintain his unbeaten run in 2019.

‘After my win last year here, I know I can break the course record now,’ said the world number one. ‘We will see, but it should be a fast and interesting battle like always. I can’t wait!’

After recently competing at the OCR World Championships – where his Team OCRA finished 5th – Lobodzinski is refocusing on the stairs.

Although Mark Bourne has been out of the stairwells since the Taipei 101 Run-Up in May (where he also finished as runner-up to Lobodzinski), he has competed in mountain running events since then. What sort of form he’ll be in on Sunday remains to be seen.

Check back on Sunday/Monday, as we’ll have all the news from the race as results come in.

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Italy has produced a set of fantastic tower runners and Fabio Ruga is one of the very best.

Italian tower runners have been topping podiums around the world for close to 15 years. Bellotti, Bonacina, De Gasperi and Manzi have all won big races against top rivals.

With a background in mountain running, Fabio Ruga made his tower running debut in Milan in 2008.

Over the past 10 years, he’s raced against, and often beat, some of the top tower runners of this generation, including stars such as Thomas Dold and Christian Riedl.

Fabio Ruga

Fabio Ruga finishes one step behind Marco De Gasperi at the Pirelli Tower in 2009

UK tower running fans should be well familiar with the Italian. The course record of 4:07 he set at the Gherkin in 2010 still stands. A year later he won Vertical Rush. Since then he’s been on the podium at Tower 42 a number of times, clocking a brilliant personal best of 4:11 in 2012.

Ruga Gherkin winner 2010

Ruga celebrates at the top of the Gherkin, after setting the course record in 2010

The indomitable Ruga is still winning races. His victories this year include the fourth leg of the Vertical World Circuit at Tour First in Paris, where he beat Omar Bekkali and Emanuele Manzi, and the Thyssenkrupp Tower Run in Rottweil, Germany last month, where he finished ahead of top Germans, Christian Riedl and Görge Heimann.

Fabio Ruga 2019

Fabio Ruga celebrates winning the Thyssenkrupp Tower Run, September 2019

Other notable performances this year include third-place finishes at the Empire State Building Run-Up and the Allianz Vertical Run in Milan.

The Italian star recently caught up with publication La Repubblica to discuss his win in Rottweil, plus how he got into stair running and what his real passion is. Click the link below for the full article.

La Repubblica interview with Fabio Ruga

He also gave another interesting interview to Atletica Pidaggia 15●28 earlier in the year, in which he explains why he came back to tower running after some time away.

Atletica Pidaggia 15●28 interview with Fabio Ruga

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China Wing HOtel

Suzy Walsham took victory at the China World Summit Wing Beijing for a seventh straight time on Saturday.

Walsham, the course record holder at the 2,041-step tower, reached the top in 11:59 to secure maximum points in the Beijing leg of the 2019 Vertical World Circuit.

The reigning world champion led from the claxon, eventually pulling away from Linming Chen (12:49) and Finland’s Laura Manninen (13:04) in the second half of the race.

‘I wasn’t feeling great in the warm up’, said Walsham. ‘But [I] focused and pushed hard and got the result I wanted. I focused on my own race and did not get distracted by the other runners. I was able to win by not going out too fast early on, and maintained a pretty good rhythm pulling away around the 30th floor, and it was head down to keep on going.’

The finishing time was 13 seconds off the course record she set back in 2013, but it was a very welcome return to top spot on the podium for the Australian.

The previous weekend (24th August), Walsham had to settle for second spot as former World Mountain Running Champion (2009) Valentina Belotti took victory at the Ostankino Tower in Moscow.

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Super happy to win my 7th straight title at the China World Summit Wing Beijing Vertical Run, and achieve my goals of maximising my #verticalworldcircuit points and running a sub 12min time. Wasn’t feeling great in the warm up but focused and pushed hard and got the result I wanted. Another awesome event by @sportingrepublic and a great competition. Let’s go for lucky #8 next year! 🥇🏃🏻‍♀️🔝😃 #vwc19 #cwswverticalrun2019 #国贸大酒店 #chinaworldsummitwing #sportingrepublic #winner #7wins #happy #tired #raceday #toughrace #focused #determination #motivated #neverstoptrying #nike #nikesg #alpnutrition #alpnutritionsport #chiroworkssg #chiroworksathlete #jarrahhoney #justdoit #theonlywayisup (📷 @verticalworldcircuit )

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The race was the seventh in the 11-race Vertical World Circuit. It was a third win for Walsham (Milan, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing) alongside the second place she secured in Seoul, but Laura Manninen remains on top of the overall rankings.

The next race will take place at Two Shanghai IFC on 20th October. Walsham is also course record holder at that 1,460-step tower, and she will be expected to repeat her 2018 win.

Tower 42, formerly The Natwest Tower, is a tough old building. Just short of 22 years ago it had almost every window blown out of it as the result of a large bomb planted in the area by the IRA. A few years later a fire swept through some of its upper floors. However, the sixth tallest building in the UK stands strong and remains a well known landmark in the City of London. It is also home to Vertical Rush, which is perhaps the most well-known and popular of the UK’s stair running events.

Vertical Rush is organised by the charity Shelter, which offers support to those experiencing housing problems and also campaigns for and raises awareness about this issue. It first took place in 2009, and in 2012 it was one of the key races on the Towerrunning.com calendar. As a result, that year it attracted lots of the top athletes and its course records for the men’s and women’s divisions were made that day by Thomas Dold (3:58) and Suzy Walsham (5:01).

This year it is one of the eight races on the Vertical World Circuit, so we expected it to attract some of the strongest climbers from Europe and beyond. We were not to be disappointed. It was a bright sunny day down on Bishopsgate and with close to 800 runners set to hit the steps it was pretty busy. Vertical Rush always attracts a lot of press and celebrity backing, and this year TV-presenter/architect George Clarke was taking part. Alongside him was former X Factor winner and now theatre showman Shayne Ward.

The real celebrities, however, those veterans of the unforgiving stairwells, no doubt blended in with the crowd. Their anonymity somehow remaining unmolested despite headbands, compression socks, special gloves, extensive warmups, steely gazes, ridiculously defined quads and calves and vests emblazoned with sponsors logos.

Piotr “Showtime” Lobodzinski, the current Towerrunning champion, was an obvious favourite heading into the race and he maintained his rep taking the win in 4:12. In a brief interview with the Vertical World Circuit (which you can read here) he said he was ‘a little disappointed’ as he had hoped to get closer to the course record. “Showtime” also commented, “The staircase was not comfortable for me, it was quite wide and therefore it was only possible to use the inside rail. I prefer a right-handed rail, so the left is a little disadvantage.” It certainly didn’t seem to have that much of a hinderance on his performance. Lobodzinski signed off by saying he would “now go for a 20 km run and do some sight seeing.” Come on mate, don’t take the piss. I need medical assistance to squat on the toilet after some of my races; don’t dupe the non-stair climbing public into thinking it’s easy or anything 😉

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“Showtime” Lobodzinski tackling the 920 steps of London’s Tower 42

Hot on his tail was Fabio “Stair Charmer” Ruga, from Italy, whose PB at the event is 4:11. Unfortunately for him he couldn’t replicate that awesome time and had to settle for second place in 4:28. Taking third spot was another well known name in the stair running world, Spain’s David “El Conquistador” Robles Tapia.

Fourth place was grabbed by Ralf “The Natural” Hascher (winner at the Broadgate Tower Run Up, also in London, three days earlier) in a time of 4:44, while Britain’s pride Mark “The Marauder” Sims took an incredible 12 seconds off his PB, reaching the top in 4:49 while representing his employers Pershing. This is his second PB of the season (his first was set in Vienna in January) so Mark is showing incredible form already this year. Amazing stuff!!

In the women’s division only two elites came over for the race so it seemed all set up to be a battle between Lenka “Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself” Zvabikova and the ever-present Italian, and last year’s female winner, Cristina “The Gatekeeper” Bonacina.

Svabikova took the victory in a time of 5:39. Having finished second in the final standings of last year’s Towerrunning championships this was to be expected. She is quite a force. Bonacina was to be denied second place by Anna “The Flying Consultant” McKinven who topped out in 6:18, running for the Accenture corporate team, with the Italian coming in third with a time of 6:35.

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Czech Republic’s Lenka Svabikova making it look easy at Vertical Rush

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The day’s winners out on the roof of Tower 42

Well done to all who took part and congratulations to the winners.

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* Photo copyright iancorless.com