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 and WFGT Towerrunning Challenge race 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.


April 18 -  Climb for Wilderness Calgary              Gallery

A trumpet fanfare by local musician Chris Morrison kicked off the 24th annual Climb and Run for Wilderness on a bright, crisp spring day in Calgary. For the first time in the event’s history, the exciting “Power Hour” climb was added to the day’s schedule, and the race joined the WFGT Towerrunning Challenge and Towerrunning World Cup with Premium status. Despite their unfamiliarity with such a format, international Goerge Heimann (GER) and US-living Canadian Veronica Stocker triumphed.

The “Power Hour” challenged competitors to see how many full circuits (both up and back down) of the 802 stairs and 160 m high Calgary Tower they could complete in one hour, with the event being so tough even champion Heimann commented “I haven’t taken part in such a hard race before!” An interesting aspect for competitors was the 2 separate stairwells used for the race – one for going up and one for going down; with the stairwells wrapped around each other heading in different directions. This enabled the athletes to see how far ahead or behind they were, but also enabled encouragement between them.

The race began with a mass start, and last year’s endurance winner and local favourite Jonathan Heinz was first into the stairwell. However by the 10th floor Heimann, 7th in the 2014 Towerrunning World Cup, took the lead and remained in front until the end, completing five full circuits in 49:54. The fight for bronze and silver was much closer. Alexander Workman (USA) passed Heinz on the second lap, however struggled running down the stairs, with Heinz revealing his unique technique: taking seven steps individually and then jumping the entire last seven steps, landing loudly with both feet on the stamped steel. Gaining ground on the descents, Heinz finally passed Workman and held on for second, also completing 5 circuits (58:39), with Workman third, his last minute burst securing him 5 circuits with just 3 seconds to spare.

In the women’s elite category, the beginning of the race was similar to the men’s, with last year’s endurance winner Shannon Magee starting fast in the first lap. However Stocker, the number one ranked USSCA climber, passed her shortly after and was never threatened, completing 4 full circuits in 55:12. Magee came in second, completing her 4 circuits in 58:26. American Madeleine Fontillas Ronk took the bronze, completing 3 laps. “It’s surprisingly hard to run down stairs” said Stocker “but it was a great race and I will be back next year.”

More than 1,200 participants took part across the day’s 5 athletic events: a race including a 1 km road section, a family-friendly “fun climb”, a four-hour endurance climb, a team challenge, and the Power Hour. “The 24th Climb and Run for Wilderness has been without a doubt the most exciting and rewarding Earth Day Celebration we have had the honour to present. Our newest element, the power hour, was an outstanding success and we continue to spread this event’s reach around the world,” said AWA Executive Director Christyann Olson.

April 18 - Valtellina Vertical Tube Race             Gallery         Video

 The small number of distance outdoor races is richer by a major attraction.. The premiere edition of the Valtellina Vertical tube race was a glorious success. It is one of longest towerrunning races in Europe held on a 1km long track with 2700 stairs and 500m of elevation. No rails. 250 runners finished this tough race cheered by a large crowd of enthusiastic spectators.

Very famous names from mountainrunning and a number of towerrunning specialists took the challenge on a sunny saturday in Valltelina in the north of Italy. In beautiful weather with hot  25 C Bernard Dematteis, recently 2nd at Eiffel Tower, won in an  incredible time of 14:02.  Runner up and under 15 minutes too was towerrunner Emanuele Manzi (14:52). The third podium rank in this outdoor race went to mountain runner Alex Baldaccini in 15:02. On seventh position overall Emmie Collinge  from England was the fastest woman with a time of 16:25. Second was Samantha Galassi from Italy in 18:41 before compatriote mountain runner Ivonne Martinucci in 18.54.

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