Vertical Rush 2018

VR Crowd.jpg

Nishad Manerikar; Total Motion Towerrunners; 15th March 2018

Background

Vertical Rush is simply the biggest towerrunning event in the UK. It is a run up the 42 floors and 932 steps of the distinctive Tower 42 near Liverpool Street station in London. Vertical Rush can claim to be one of the truly international stair runs held in the UK; elite towerrunners from across Europe and beyond have graced this event in past years. The course record, a scarcely believable time of 3:58 is held by four-time Towerrunning World Champion Thomas Dold of Germany. The women’s record of 5:01 is owned by none other than six time and reigning Towerrunning World Champion Suzy Walsham of Australia. Both were set in 2012. Six time and reigning men’s world champion Piotr Lobodzinski of Poland beat Dold to second place here last year and came agonisingly close to breaking the long-standing record - he missed it by just one second. The history of this race is illustrious indeed.

And yet, for a majority of the thousand-odd people who scale the tower, records and legends of the towerrunning world are secondary. The day and the event are all about being part of a great cause – to raise funds for Shelter, a charity that helps millions of people struggling with homelessness and bad housing every year. It is a sight to behold – a sea of people in distinctive Vertical Rush branded red shirts, music and laughter. (And a lot of tired legs, and gasping for breath, and lying on the floor panting, but that’s all at the top!)

Race Preview

This year, the towerrunning world was facing a slight distraction *cough* Tour Eiffel *cough* on the day of Vertical Rush. With the Eiffel Tower race on the same day, and with Vertical Rush not being part of the Vertical World Circuit this year, most of the European elites were not in attendance. This was a great opportunity for British athletes to shine. Elliot Slaughter, after his fine showing in Leicester last weekend was highly fancied; Mark Sims with his vast experience and prowess over longer distances edged him as the British favourite. In the mix was also Emanuele Manzi of Italy who was faster than Sims last year. With Sonja Shakespeare away racing in Paris, Sarah Frost was the clear British favourite in the women’s race. She was expected to duel with another Italian, the hugely experienced one-time Towerrunning World Champion, Cristina Bonacina.

The Race

Sixteen hundred people were expected to race today. There were celebrities and enthusiastic runners in fancy dress. There were waves of runners every hour starting from 8 am. As in Leicester, Slaughter set the early pace, running in the 8 am wave and finishing with a time of 5:01. This was a marked improvement on his time from last year. The next couple of waves saw this time go unchallenged. The 11 am wave had both Manzi and Sims. Manzi smashed the timing screens with 4:38 and Sims came in at 5:00, relegating Slaughter to third.

In the women’s race, towerrunning unknown Susie Drinkwater set the early benchmark in the 10 am wave, clocking a time of 6:11. Bonacina in the 11 am wave was unable to go better and finished on 6:35. Frost was on in the next wave and massively improved her time from last year. She could not have come any closer to getting the win – she ran a time of 6:12!

Over subsequent waves (there were waves all the way until 8 pm), these times stood unbeaten, and the final podiums looked thus – mens: Manzi, Sims, Slaughter; womens: Drinkwater, Frost, Bonacina. Heartiest congratulations to all the top finishers. We do not know of any previous towerrunning from Drinkwater. If this was indeed her first race, then it makes the victory even more impressive.

Total Motion Towerrunners

Overall, it was an impressive showing by TMT – 2nd and 3rd (Sims, Slaughter) in the men’s race and 2nd (Frost) in the women’s. All of these should rightfully be proud of their results! Frost’s first stair race was Vertical Rush last year, and she has gone from strength to strength since then, winning races and setting course records. Slaughter continues his upwards trajectory, and Sims is consistently fast as ever.

And yet, for those of us who delight in numbers and statistics, there were a few what-ifs. There was an agonisingly perverse symmetry in the results – Slaughter and Frost, winners from Leicester last week, both lost out by one second today; Slaughter on 2ndplace and Frost on 1st. Such are the vagaries of this sport at the sharp end of the field – a couple of slow turns, or an out of sync step on the landing is all it takes for you to lose a spot.

Away From the Clock

As a towerrunning group we are obviously interested in the racing and times and records. However, as the dust settles, it is humbling to look back on the event and reflect upon what Shelter and almost 1450 runners achieved today. For many runners it was the biggest challenge they had undertaken.

Big shout out to Ali Cherni who decided 42 wasn’t enough and ran the full vertical mile – 12 ascents of the tower. In reaching the top over 42 floors, the participants collectively managed to raise over £300,000 for Shelter. Shelter should look back on the tenth edition of Vertical Rush as a grand success!

See all of the race results here.
 
(All images from www.twitter.com/Shelter)

If you've got the taste for stair climbing, or just fancy giving another building a try, or even emulating Ali Cheni's 12 climbs, then why not join us at  The Broadgate Tower Run Up 2018. Free charity places are available, or you can just 'pay to play'.

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