We all know how tiring walking up stairs can be, hence the popularity of ‘taking the lift!’ But how about running up several flights of stairs or, better still, Tower running – sprinting up 86 flights of stairs to the top of the Empire State Building?
Every year approximately 650 runners sprint to the top of one of New York’s most iconic landmarks in the Empire State Building Run-Up event.
This year was the 35th time this demanding 1,576-step vertical climb, which sees runners start at the ground floor and finish at the Observation Deck, has taken place.
This gruelling activity is emerging as a competitive sport known as ‘skyscraper runner’, ‘tower running’ or sometime ‘competitive stair climbing’, and is attracting some of the world’s top athletes.
Other Tower Running events, which see participants sprint and scramble up vertical stairways against the clock, are being held at some of the world’s tallest buildings asides the Empire State building, including Chicago’s Willis Tower, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan and the Menara Tower in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia.
Both male and female athletes are getting a taste for ‘tower running’. In last year’s Empire State Building Run-Up, Thomas Dold, an athlete from Germany won the race, sprinting up 86 floors in just over ten minutes. Whilst the woman’s race was won by Australian Alice McNamara, who reached the Observation Deck from ground zero in little more than 13 minutes.
Cindy Harris from Indianapolis regularly competes in these ‘tower running’ events and, during the last 13 years, has managed to finish in the top three women.
Talking about how she trains for ‘tower running’ competitions, Ms Harris told MSCBC Health.com that she trains in the stairwells of 15-storey and 30-storey buildings twice a week, as well as practising Pilates and competing in regular 5 km races and half marathons.
As for her technique, the Indianapolis athlete admits that she takes the stairs two or three at a time and uses the railings with her arms to lessen the load on her legs.
“It’s pretty intense and you’re breathing hard for almost the entire time. Your legs get heavy and you feel it in your quads,” says the top tower running athlete.
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