Runners Compete In Marathon To Top Of Empire State Building

Category: Media & Culture / Feb 07, 2013 2:23PM EDT
Australians Mark Bourne and Suzy Walsham were the fastest man and woman to race up the 1,576 steps of the Empire State Building on Wednesday (February 6) in the run up of the iconic New York landmark. Bourne finished in 10 minutes, 12 seconds and Walsham clocked 12:05 in the race up 86 floors that is described as a vertical marathon, the New York Road Runner (NYRR), which organizes the annual Empire State Building Run-Up, said. About 600 runners from 18 countries took part in the race, now in its 36th year. "Even if you're taking it a little bit...moderately easy, it's always tough to go up something like that, so yeah, the satisfaction of just completing it is enough," said Bourne. "But to win it makes it even better." Four-time champion Walsham was equally elated. She tied the record for most wins in the women's division and laid to rest the memory of her last win in 2009 when she overcame a crash at the start that gave her a black eye and lingering injury to her foot to claim her third race in a row (2007-2009). "I swore I'd never be back, but the lure of coming back to win such an iconic building and, you know, to get so that that's [2009 race and crash] not the last memory of my win. I really wanted to comeback and try and win it again, and I was lucky today. The race went my way," said Walsham who lives in Singapore. Australian Darren Wilson came in second among the men, followed by Ricky Gates of San Francisco. Brooke Logan of Australia was the second woman to reach the top, ahead of Erika Aklufi, of Los Angeles, who placed third. "That was amazing. They were trying to usher me inside, and I said 'no, no, no, I just want to see who wins the men's,' and then Mark came across and. . . you know, it's a great day for Australia to have two Aussies winning. It's fantastic," said Walsham about the Aussies runners who have a long history in the race. Paul Crake of Australia set the course record at 9:33 in 2003. His time was three minutes faster than the winning time of Gary Muhrcke's 12:33 in the inaugural 1978 race. Crake was paralyzed in a cycling accident in 2006. Andrea Mayr of Austria set the women's record of 11:23. German Thomas Dold, the defending men's champion who has won the race a record seven times, did not compete because of illness. About 30 elite men and women vertical racers, or tower runners, who storm up skyscrapers around the globe, along with fitness enthusiasts and some 200 charity runners ran from the lobby of the landmark building to the Observatory floor. The elite stair climbers powered up the building first followed by other runners in spaced intervals, according to the organizers. Many of the top skyscraper racers compete in the Vertical World Circuit, which includes buildings races in Switzerland, Spain, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Brazil. Last month Dold was named the circuit's champion for the fourth time. The Empire State Building Run-up was the brainchild of New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebow. (Video Source: Reuters)