February 4  -  38th Empire State Building Run Up        Gallery

While the temperature outside had been sub-zero for days, the action inside the building was heating up at the 38th Empire State Building Run Up. As the first Premium Race of the 2015 Towerrunning World Cup and WFGT Tower Challenge got under way, elite athletes from 10 countries lined up to scale the 1,576 steps to the 86th floor observation deck. Continuing on from his impressive victory at the recent World Cup Final, German climber Christian Riedl finally triumphed at his sixth attempt, while Australian Suzy Walsham improved on her record-breaking tally to become a six-time winner.

The elite women were first off the mark and it was Italian Christina Bonacina and American Cindy Harris who were quickest through to the stairwell. Walsham trailed in third, but overtook soon after and powered away for her 6th victory in a strong 12min30sec. “I’ve had a really interrupted preparation with injury and illness so I wasn’t sure how I would hold up today, but I am thrilled to win again. Having done the race 8 times now, my familiarity with the building definitely helped with my race strategy”, commented Walsham. Americans filled the minor placings with Stephanie Hucko finishing in 13:50 and Shari Klarfield closely behind in 13:55. Hucko thought there were a few girls ahead of her until a race official told her she was in second place around the 66th floor, “I was so shocked I nearly tripped over”, she laughed “But I knew Shari was close behind so I told myself to leave nothing behind and went for it. I am ecstatic.”

The men’s race was equally exciting with Riedl triumphing by a mere 3 seconds in 10:16 from defending champion Norwegian Thorbjorn Ludvigsen in 10:19. Completing the international podium was Australia’s Darren Wilson in 10:53. Riedl paced his race to perfection initially trailing in 5th place, until he passed Wilson on the 45th floor and Ludvigsen on the 66th floor to storm home for the win. Speaking after the race, “It was really great. For me it was like the end of a long story, having raced here 5 times and finally winning on my sixth, but maybe it is now the beginning of another story” he smiled.

As the building was specially lit up in red and white for the evening race, there were other stories of triumph with cancer survivor Madeleine Fontillas Ronk finishing 13th place in the women’s elite race, and amputees Sarah Reinertsen and Eduardo Garcia, representing the Challenged Athletes Foundation, also completing the grueling race.

January 24  -  Towerrunning World Cup Final  2014 Vienna  - January 24, 2015                Video

An exclusive field of 67 stair runners including the top-ranked athletes of the Towerrunning World Cup, the winners of ten WFGT Towerrunning Challenge events all around the globe and Towerrunning Austria qualifiers gathered in the wintry Vienna, Mecca of the European stair racing community. In the first one of two individually timed heats, the competitors had the task to secure their ticket for the final round by placing among the top 10. Naturally, as the athletes want to save their energy for the decisive heat, this mode gives rise to tactical experiments and surprises. Australia’s Darren Wilson gambled away his chances and was eliminated on 12th position. Wilson was in good company with Cristina Bonacina (ITA), Jana Zatlukalova (SVK), Görge Heimann (GER), Norbert Lechner (AUT), and other top-ranked international athletes missing the cut.

The fastest semi-final times were set by Christian Riedl and Andrea Mayr. Did they shoot their bolt too early? By no means. No one thought possible that the course record could be broken in the ice-cold stairwell, but Christian Riedl proved us wrong. The German, racing his first World Cup competition since October, literally smashed Lobodzinski’s standing record and clocked an unbelievable time of 3:23.6 minutes, four seconds ahead of the Polish World Cup champion and further Eastern European rivals Tomas Celko (SVK), Tomas Macecek (CZE) and Stefan Stefina (SVK). Young Austrian athlete Jakub Meyer caused a stir with his 6th place in a world-class field.

Andrea Mayr, still unbeaten in Towerrunning races, gave another demonstration of her stair racing qualities and won the competition in 4 minutes and 7.4 seconds. Though she was without a chance in the battle for a World Cup medal with just five race participations in the 2014 season, the reigning European Towerrunning Champion seems to be well-positioned for the World Championships in Doha. A fortnight after her AOTC title, Suzy Walsham’s World Cup triumph was never placed in jeopardy. The Singapore-living Australian, scarcely recovered from a short illness, became runner-up and kept her World Cup rival Lenka Svabikova clearly at bay. The Czech, leading the point standings for several weeks, placed fourth in Vienna, one second behind Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik (POL).

After a short breather, the Towerrunning World Cup award presentation was held amidst great rejoicing. As mentioned in the beginning, Piotr Lobodzinski (1569 points) and Suzy Walsham (1471.5) stood atop the podium. Tomas Celko (1427) and Lenka Svabikova (1372) took silver, and the bronze medals went to Christian Riedl (1422.5) and Maria Theresa Handlbauer (955.5). With the points collected in GuangZhou and Vienna, Australia sealed the deal in the Nations Cup ranking. Towerrunning Austria’s ÖTL Cup titles, connected with an invitation to the World Championships, went to Klaus Hausleitner and Maria-Theresa Handlbauer.

January 9  -  Asian & Oceanian Championships Guang Zhou                         

Down Under once again has set the standards: Having claimed 9 of 10 possible victories in the 2014 season’s Grand Prix and Premium Races in East Asia and Australia, the Australian team lived up to its reputation as favourite and claimed both Asian & Oceanian Towerrunning Championship gold medals. Darren Wilson celebrated a superior triumph conquering GuangZhou’s Canton Tower in 14 minutes and 34 seconds, while it took Suzy Walsham 17:36 minutes for her race to one of the highest and largest outdoor observation decks in the world. The margins of victory were incredible 68 and 96 seconds, respectively. Even a fall on the difficult race course could not prevent Darren Wilson from his triumphal procession.

Outstanding female Chinese contestants Fengjuan Fan (19:12) and Lujiao Liao (21:19) outcompeted Xinxin Maier (21:59) in the battle for the AOTC medals, whereas the men’s heat was coined by strong performances of the European athletes. Towerrunning World Cup runner-up Tomas Celko (SVK) became second (15:42) with a mere 6 seconds gap in front of Emmanuele Manzi (ITA). Czech Republic’s Tomas Macecek came in fourth place (16:03), followed by AOTC silver medallist Jiajing Ou from China (16:05) and Görge Heimann (GER, 16:19). Defa Li (CHN - 17:12) took the AOTC bronze medal.

After five qualifying stages, almost 500 athlete dared to compete in the final race of the premiere AOTC tournament. The event, conducted under the auspice and immediate supervision of the Towerrunning World Association, has been endowed with a total cash prize purse of 7,400 USD. Dozens of media representatives and celebrities enjoyed the race and were able to convince themselves of the venue’s exceptional amenities.

Canton Tower, also referred to colloquially as “slim waist”, is 600 meters tall, with 450 meters of its main body and 150 meters of its antenna, which makes it the second-tallest tower in China. After 2580 stairs in different stairwells, connected by seven flat interchange sections, the athletes reached the finish line at the outlook terrace, encircled by the world’s highest horizontal ferris wheel. The city with its numerous skyscrapers has proved to be a perfect playground for China’s first Towerrunning circuit organized by Rings Sport Marketing.

As Canton Tower is one of the privileged members of the World Federation of Great Towers, the event also formed part of the WFGT Towerrunning Challenge series. Jiajing Ou and Wenfei Xie, overall winners of the 2014 & 2015 GuangZhou Vertical Marathon Series, were awarded with a round-trip to the joint grand finale of the WFGT Towerrunning Challenge and Towerrunning World Cup in Vienna on January 24.

June 22  -  2015 Towerrunning World Championships awarded to Aspire Zone Doha     

The Towerrunning World Association (TWA) today announced that Qatar’s Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) had won the right to host the inaugural TWA Towerrunning World Championships in 2015 at The Torch Doha. Speaking at the 2014 Towerrunning European Championships in Slovakia, TWA President Sebastian Wurster said: “We were impressed by Aspire's excellent facilities and the professional organization of the 2014 Grand Prix of Qatar. It was a logical consequence to build upon this basis and jointly develop the first edition of the Towerrunning World Championships. I am convinced that the Aspire Zone Foundation & Torch Hotel will host a great event, opening up new horizons for the Towerrunning sport.”

Aspire Zone Foundation CEO Khalid A-Sulaiteen said: “We are honoured the TWA has selected Aspire Zone to host the Towerrunning World Championships in 2015. As it is the first time the event will occur we appreciate the trust that the TWA has placed in us to jointly organize a memorable event. Aspire Zone continues to be a leader in promoting healthy lifestyles and we look forward to combining the World Championships with a Towerrunning event for the community.”

The 2015 TWA Towerrunning World Championships will take place on 27-28 March and include a two-day race programme with three heats combining different distances and competition modes. A spectacular and TV-friendly start mode, similar to automobile racing, will be used for the grand final of the top 30 male and female athletes. A dedicated elite athlete invitation policy is set to attract the strongest athletes from all over the world, who will compete for the individual and team World Champion titles and cash prizes. The sporting competition will be accompanied by a diversified supporting programme with a gala dinner, schools outreach and a medical conference.

Having organized the Torch Staircase Run for the past three years, AZF was well placed to submit a bid for the World Championships. In 2014 the race was awarded official Grand Prix status and attracted a capacity field of 350 runners including some of the best international stair runners from Europe, USA and Australia. The Torch Doha was built as a landmark of the 2006 Asian Games and houses a 5-star luxury hotel, providing high-end hospitality services and business facilities. The staircase provides a climb of 1304 steps across 51 floors.   

Towerrunning is one of the fastest growing sports and a striking trend in the running scene. Each year more than 100,000 athletes and running enthusiasts climb towers, skyscrapers and outdoor stairs to experience this special challenge. Towerrunning competitions are held in 40 countries and elite athletes travel worldwide to climb iconic towers and to collect points for the World Cup series of the Towerrunning World Association.

June 22  -  Towerrunning European Champions - Andrea Mayr and Piotr Lobodzinski       

Having conquered the tallest buildings of Austria (Danube Tower Vienna) and Czech Republic (AZ Tower Brno) and Bratislava's iconic Ufo in an innovative three-day tournament Andrea Mayr (AUT) and Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) emerged as the 2014 Towerrunning European Champions. While Mayr celebrated superior wins in all three stages, Piotr Lobodzinski had to struggle for the overall victory on the last 430 stairs of the championships.  

After his triumphs in Vienna and Brno, Lobodzinski entered the final as the clear leader in the point standings and a forth place in Bratislava would have been sufficient to secure the title. Reaching the finish with his last ounce of strength, Lobodzinski took the third rank in the final and thus the European Champion title - just two seconds apart from loosing the gold medal. The Bratislava win and the ECH silver medal were claimed by Tomas Celko (SVK, 1:44.6), who was able to shave another 5.1 seconds from his own track record. Christian Riedl, narrowly defeated by Lobodzinski in Brno and equal in points with Celko before the grand final, was without a chance against the Slovak in the final race. Riedl became fifth in Bratislava and ECH bronze medallist. Ranks four to six in the ECH tournament went to Bratislava runner-up Bartosz Swiatkowski (POL, 1:45.8), Fabio Ruga (ITA) and Matjaz Miklosa (SLO).

In the women's competition Andrea Mayr broke the track record (2:15.1) and crowned herself to the tournament's triple winner and undisputed Towerrunning European Champion. In the difficult and narrow spiral staircase Lenka Svabikova (CZE, 2:33.2) could beat Suzanne Walsham (AUS, 2:23.7) for the first time in her career and cemented the ECH silver medal. In the battle for the bronze medal Dominika Wisniewska-Ulfik (POL) and Maria Theresa Handlbauer (AUT) entered the last race with equal point standings. With a fourth place (2:28.4) Austria's young stair racing talent Handlbauer gathered the decisive points for the ECH bronze medal. Wisniewska-Ulfik finished the ECH fourth and Zuzana Krchova (CZE) took an unexpected fifth overall rank.

Under ideal weather conditions an outstanding selection of the strongest European athletes started their race on the Danube promenade before storming in and up the spectacular pylon of Nove Mest Bridge up to the Ufo's observatory. Similar to the first two races the ECH final was coined by fair play, a great atmosphere and an incredibly high competition level. Elite athletes from 18 countries competed in the 3 days – 3 towers – 3 countries tournament and made the European Towerrunning Championships 2014 a huge success. A total of 1909 stairs had to be climbed before the champions could hold the trophies in their hand. Austrian Towerrunning legend Andrea Mayr, extending her unbeaten series in stair races, and reigning World Cup champion Piotr Lobodzinski from Poland became worthy champions and an emotional award ceremony on the banks of the Danube River was the brilliant finale of a great event.

June 21  -  Towerrunning European Championships - Mayr and Lobodzinski Brno winners too    

Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) and Andrea Mayr (AUT) expanded their leads in Towerrunning European Championships winning the second race of the tournament in AZ Tower in Brno. Behind their backs there is a close fight for medal positions with Slovak Tomas Celko having his home final race in Bratislava and still believing in winning the European Champion title.

Andrea Mayr again showed her undisputed domination mastering 700 stairs of Brno's AZ Tower in 3:30.3 – 7 seconds faster than Australian Suzy Walsham. Lenka Svabikova (CZE) finished third in 3:45.5 keeping her second place in the European Championships classification. Fourth place went to Maria Theresa Handlbauer (AUT) who is now on the bronze medal place in the tournament ranking together with Dominika Wiśniewska-Ulfik (POL).

Men's competition saw a narrow win from Piotr Lobodzinski (2:55.0), who beat Christian Riedl (GER) by only 0.9 seconds. Tomas Celko finished third in 2:59.8 to equal with Riedl for the second place in the European Championships ranking. Lobodzinski, Riedl and Celko seem to be clear favorites to take the medal positions while the fourth place should be decided between Bartosz Swiatkowski (POL) and Fabio Ruga (ITA) during the final race in Bratislava's famous UFO.

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