It was a momentous evening in New York on Wednesday night with the 40th anniversary of the Empire State Building Run Up, the oldest and one of the most iconic tower races in the world. Runners climbed up the famous building’s 1,576 steps to the 86th floor observatory, 326m above the ground. It was a night of firsts as Walsham dominated the women’s field to record an historic 8th title, the most by any athlete, while in the men’s elite, Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) scored a momentous maiden victory.
In a change to previous editions, it was the men’s elite who set off first. The field was strong with last year’s winner Darren Wilson (AUS) returning, in-form Canadian Shaun Stephens-Whale, previous winner Sproule Love (USA), and of course Towerrunning World champion Piotr Lobodzinski, competing in New York for the first time. Wilson was fresh off a victory in the AON Tower in Chicago on Sunday, and despite a close battle until the 72nd floor, Lobodzinski proved too strong in the final stages to take the victory in 10:31, with Wilson 12 seconds behind in 10:43. “The race was really really tough but I continued to push hard and it is so great to come here for the first time and win this famous race” smiled Lobodzinksi. Stephens-Whale continued his good form to place third in 11:04.
In the women’s race, expectation had been building all week for Walsham’s record attempt at an 8th victory, and she did not disappoint, leading from the start and pulling away mid-race to record a fast 12:11, her second fastest time ever. “I am so thrilled to have such a strong race and win here again” beamed Walsham “It’s amazing to think I now have 8 victories.” Cindy Harris (USA), who has incredibly competed in 20 editions of the race, 15 on the podium, continued her good form coming second in 13:11, while Meg Santanna (USA) achieved her first podium position in the race placing third in 13:51. In addition to the elite races, there were also special heats for the media, celebrities, New York City Real Estate brokers, Marmot, firefighters and athletes from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), including Roseann Sdoia who lost part of her leg in the Boston Marathon bombing and completed the race with her fiancé firefighter.