June 21 -  GP of Europe Women     Galleries:  Vienna     Brno    Bratislava      Video

As with the men’s competition, the overall Grand Prix of Europe standings for the elite women went down to the wire in the final race in Bratislava, although the action started early on Friday evening up the 779 steps of the Danube Tower in Vienna.  As the runners took off in descending order based on their TWA World Cup ranking, all eyes were on the final three runners.  Polish mountain running champion Dominika Wisniewska Ulfik first posted a personal best 4:44.6, while World Cup silver medalist Lenka Svabikova (CZE) followed next in 4:45.7.  But it was four-time World Cup Champion Suzy Walsham (AUS) who took the eventual win and collected the maximum 78 points in a personal best 4:29.7.  In a surprise twist, the local Austrian winner of the women’s open event, Brigitte Stocker, broke the 5 minute mark and achieved fifth place in the overall women’s standings.

Saturday’s race moved to the 700 step AZ Tower in Brno, and although the stairwell was shorter and faster, the final steep, outdoor four floors provided a late-race challenge.  Svabikova was keen to improve her overall standings, but started out too fast, and faded slightly to finish in 3:49.9, claiming third place from fellow Czech Zuzana Krchova by only 0.1 seconds. The other two podium positions followed the same order as the previous day, with Walsham taking the win in 3:39.2 from Ulfik in 3:46.1.  After two days of competition, Walsham lead with 146 points, Ulfik was second with 122 and Svabikova third in 106 points.  “It’s been a tiring week for me so I am really happy to come away with two wins” commented Walsham, “I just have to keep it together for tomorrow and be on the podium.”

The final positions would be decided in the UFO’s short, narrow and spiraling staircase.  It was in this race last year that Svabikova first beat Walsham, and she knew she would have to repeat that performance to overtake Ulfik in the overall pointscore.  Despite slower times than the previous year, Walsham reversed the tables on Svabikova to win by just 0.1 seconds and take a clean sweep of victories and the overall title.  In a twist of fate, Ulfik took third place from Krchova also by 0.1 seconds.  And so it was that the overall Grand Prix second and third positions were decided by just 0.1 second, with Ulfik scoring 174 points from Svabikova’s 166.  “The weekend was great.  I especially enjoyed the Bratislava race because of the atmosphere and organization” Svabikova said.  Ulfik acknowledged the closeness of the competition “The Grand Prix of Europe was a real battle. I had some luck today but I am very happy with my overall second place”.  Her continued strong performance in leading World Cup races will now see her jump to third place in the TWA World Cup rankings,

The global attraction of the event was evident by the representation of 7 nations from 3 continents in the women’s Top 10, with the Czech Republic featuring prominently with 4 athletes.  In total, 43 athletes from eleven countries scored overall Grand Prix points.

June 21 -  GP of Europe Men     Galleries:  Vienna     Brno    Bratislava     Video

The TWA Grand Prix of Europe’s 3-day challenge started at one of Europe’s most historic races, with the 19th edition of the Donauturm Treppenlauf.  The tallest building in Austria, and the longest of the three events, Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) showed he was the man to beat running a personal best 3:25.7, to shave 1.2 seconds from his 2014 time.  Collecting valuable points, Tomas Celko (SVK) came in second in 3:29.7, and Tomas Macecek (CZE) ran a 6 second personal best to post 3:37.6.  But it was only the start of a long weekend of competition and after arriving back at the hotel close to midnight, the athletes didn’t have much time to catch up on valuable rest before embarking on the next event.

Saturday’s race moved to the Czech Republic’s tallest tower in Brno, the AZ Tower.  After a strong first race, local hero Macecek was looking forward to another good performance, “After my race in Vienna, I was so happy and self-confident for my home race” he said, but was left disappointed with his eventual sixth place, and slipped to fourth place in the overall standings with 104 points.  While the first and second places mirrored the previous day’s results, Celko ran a personal best 2:58.0 to close the time gap and finish less than 2 seconds behind Lobodzinski’s winning 2:56.1.  Third place went to Jakob Mayer (AUT), who moved into 3rd place in the overall standings with 114 points.  At the leaderboard, Lobodzinski’s 2 wins from 2 races saw him extend his lead from Celko by 24 points.

As spectators huddled around the live results board, the final thrilling race up Bratislava’s iconic UFO Tower played out.  Celko repeated his previous winning performances in Bratislava to claim his 3rd UFO Vertical Sprint title, finishing almost 4 seconds clear of second place.  “After two second places, I knew that I had to win UFO, and I am so happy to get my hattrick of victories here”, smiled Celko, “But if I would like to win overall, the result did not just depend on me.”  Indeed, Lobodzinski needed to finish on the podium to ensure an overall Grand Prix win, and in the end only 0.4 seconds separated second from fourth, critically impacting the final standings.  Lobodzinski clinched second place in 1:49.41, Macecek lunged at the line to claim third in 1:49.64 and secured his overall third-placed ranking, while Stefan Stefina (SVK) came in fourth in 1:49.80.  The closeness of the finish was not lost on Lobodzinski, “I am very happy to with the overall Grand Prix, but it was very close.  Luck was with me today.”

The top 5 male athletes shared in a prize pool of EUR2,100 and the final men’s standings saw Lobodzinski take the victory with 228 points, Celko second with 216 points and Macecek with 164 points.  An indication of the closeness of the competition, only 10 points separated third from fifth, with Stefina coming in fourth with 156 points, narrowly ahead of Mayer on 154 points.  Overall, six European nations were represented in the Top 10, and 46 athletes from 11 different countries scored overall Grand Prix points.

June 21 -  Grand Prix of Europe     Vienna     Brno    Bratislava   Video

After a thrilling three days of competition the TWA Grand Prix of Europe reached its exciting conclusion at the UFO Vertical Run in Bratislava, with Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) and Suzy Walsham (AUS) securing overall Grand Prix victories. After winning the first two races in Vienna and Brno it seemed Lobodzinksi would repeat his performance from last year’s European Championships, however in the short and technically challenging UFO Tower, Tomas Celko (SVK) took the win with Lobodzinski coming in second.  With only 0.4 seconds between second and fourth place, Lobozinski secured his overall Grand Prix victory by only 0.5 seconds. Celko placed second overall with his two seconds and first place from the three races, while Czech Republic’s Tomas Macecek took third overall after placing third, sixth and third.

In the women’s race, Walsham scored a hat trick of victories, however her win in the final race was the smallest margin ever in a women’s Grand Prix race, crossing the line only 0.1sec faster than Lenka Svabikova (CZE).  Dominika Wisniewsksa Ulfik (POL) came in third, also only 0.1 seconds ahead of fourth placed Zuzana Krchova (CZE), just enough for her to secure the overall Grand Prix second place with her two second places from the first two races.  Svabikova was a close third overall with her two thirds and a second place. The successful three days of competition saw more than 400 athletes from 19 countries run up more than 1,900 stairs.  While no course records were broken, many athletes achieved at least one personal best and newcomers have set benchmarks to chase in years to come.

June 14 -  SkyRun MesseTurm Frankfurt  
Lobodzinski and Walsham defend titles; Riedl and Hartl take German Championships

Germany’s top towerrunning event was held up the 61 story MesseTurm on Sunday. In addition to the overall sprint race which attracted top internationals and defending titleholders Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) and Suzy Walsham (AUS), the race also doubled as the German Towerrunning Championships. Germany’s top tower runner, Christian Riedl, went close to causing an upset in the men’s race, but Lobodzinski clinched the overall win by just 2.2 seconds, with Slovakia’s Tomas Celko running a personal best to finish third. Riedl’s 6:40.2 wonth the German Championships, with Patrick Schafer in second (7:20.9) and Jens Ludeke in third (7:26.4).

In the women’s event, Walsham was unchallenged running 7:46.6, more than one minute ahead of second place Iwona Wicha (POL) in 9:09.5 and third place Manuela Hartl (GER) in 9:19.2. It was a welcome return for Hartl, who has battled injury all year, and her performance ensured a German Towerrunning Championship win. The remaining podium finishers in the German Championships were Silvia Jacobs in 9:20.1 and Cordula Galster in 9:52.3 All eyes now turn to the Grand Prix of Europe, to be held later this week, where runners will be challenged with three races, across three countries, in three days. Stay tuned for complete men’s and women’s race previews and all the exciting results across the long weekend of competition.

May 30 - Subida Gran Hotel Bali       Gallery

Spain’s only TWA World Cup Premium race was held in the coastal resort city of Benidorm last Saturday with the 12th staging of the Gran Hotel Bali Tower Run.  Despite strong local competition, it was World Cup silver medalists Tomas Celko (SVK) and Lenka Svabikova (CZE) who took decisive victories.

For Celko, it was his first win for 2015 and his 4:39 was only 6 seconds off the course record set last year.  “I am very happy with the win” said Celko “I liked the course and I see room for improvement.  I would definitely like to come back next year to have a crack at the course record.” In second place was Spanish runner Ignacio Cardona Torres in a strong 4:47, with Belgium Omar Bekkali a close third in 4:49.

Svabikova became only the second woman ever to break the 6min barrier, running a convincing 5:47, to finish a close 3 seconds off the course record.   After recent victories in Almere and Paris, she had reason to celebrate her third tower win in May. “I was really pleased with my run today” commented Svabikova “I really like the stairwell and it has been such a great event.”  In second place, Rosi Llorens (ESP) improved more than 30 seconds from her winning time last year to post 6mins, while Italian Ivonne Martinucci was third in 6:07.  The top 3 women’s times were some of the fastest in the history of the race.

As the tallest building in the city, it is not a surprise that the Gran Hotel Bali has hosted the event for the past 12 years.  The rising popularity of the sport of Towerrunning saw almost a three-fold increase in the number of competitors from the previous year, as runners challenged themselves up the 936 steps, 52 floors to the 190m high finish.  “We are very happy with the staging of this World Cup Premium race in Spain” commented Dano Cecetka, TWA Vice President “Gran Hotel Bali Benidorm is an ideal place to organize such an event and we look forward to a strong future collaboration between the TWA and Gran Hotel Bali to continue the tradition of this great event.”


May 3 - Taipei 101 Run Up             Gallery

The TWA Grand Prix of Taiwan and WFGT Towerrunning Challenge took place on Sunday 3 May at the popular Taipei 101 Run Up. As more than 4,500 competitors from 38 countries were lining up to conquer one of the world’s tallest buildings, the elites were already scaling the 2,046 steps and 91 floors to the Taipei 101 Observation deck, and it was World Cup leaders Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) and Suzy Walsham (AUS) who claimed victory. Despite being the only two elite athletes to fail the “medical test” (a balancing test with closed eyes), the two recorded strong victories with Lobodzinski reaching the top in 11min08sec and Walsham in 13min16sec.

It was Lobodzinski’s first win in the Tower after twice finishing runner-up, and he was pleased with the result. “I am very happy to finally win in Taipei” he smiled, “I have not done so much specific stair training since the World Championships so I was really pleased with my result and the time”. Second place went to Italian Emanuele Manzi in 11min52sec, claiming his first podium result in his fourth attempt, and much to the delight of the local crowd Kuo Chun-ku took third place in 12min53sec.

In the women’s elite race, Walsham returned to Taipei after a six year hiatus and ran almost 30 seconds faster than her previous best. “I am pleased with the win” said Walsham “but a little disappointed with the time as I really wanted to go sub-13 minutes. With the height of the stars, it was difficult to use my normal technique so I did not feel as strong as I hoped.” Second place went to rising star Dominika Wiszniewska-Ulfik (POL) in 14mins29sec, “This was the tallest building I have ever run up” she commented “but it was a good race and I enjoyed the challenge.” Experienced Italian stair climber Christina Bonacina came in third in 16mins.

This is the eleventh edition of the race and it is a key sporting event on the Taipei running scene. The race comprised four different categories of competition: elite runners, corporate teams, fundraising relays and individual amateurs; and in an effort to set an example and promote a  healthy fitness regime, even the Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je competed, finishing in a time of 45min54sec.


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