Stairs And The City Stair Climb Race Report

Leadenhall .jpg

Nishad Manerikar, Total Motion Towerrunners, April 2018

The Leadenhall Building in London shares some characteristics with its tall neighbours. It is one of the new steel-and-glass skyscrapers that has sprung up in the City over the past decade, has a very distinctive shape that gives it its nickname – The Cheesegrater, and it hosts a stair race! Looking at it standing amongst a cluster of tall buildings (the Gherkin is right next door), it is difficult to judge its height. But from the top, there’s no mistaking it – it is by far the tallest building in the Square Mile. When you are at the top, you are looking down at the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and the Scalpel that has recently topped out. At 225 metres, 48 floors and almost 1300 steps, it gives us the highest stair race in the UK. Today it was home to the ‘Stairs and the City’ run for the charity Care International.

Race Preview

CARE International works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. To quote, “We put women and girls in the centre because we know that we cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities.” True to this philosophy, this was a unique event: the charity fund-raiser was a women-only tower run, and then there was a separate wave for TWA registered athletes (male and female) later.

This was only the second time a race was run in the Cheesegrater. The first one was last year and Mark Sims (6:58) and Karima Hudson (8:50) bagged victory and the course records.

The Race

After a helter-skelter four weeks in the February-March period, there was a relative lull in the UK towerrunning calendar; today we returned to racing.

The waves started off at 10:30; almost 120 women climbed to the top. By the time the elite wave came around at 14:30, there hadn’t been any surprise fast finishers. 

The course record remained unbeaten.

Sims was here to defend his title and started off the elite wave, followed by most of the UK regulars. He finished in a time of 7:01, slightly slower than his record. Mark Howard proved to be the star, running the course in 6:56 to take the win and set a new course record. Howard burst onto the UK towerrunning scene last year with fast times at the Broadgate Tower Run Up (he was just a second behind Sims in the second run). He hasn’t raced since apart from a fourth-place finish in Leicester earlier this year, but has been training regularly with the TMT crew. Matt Pleass from Leicester rounded off the podium, finishing on 7:34.

In the women’s elite race, it was a straight fight between Sarah Frost and Sonja Shakespeare. Frost prevailed with a time of 8:03, smashing another record in the process. Frost, freshly returned from her adventure in Italy at the Valtellina Tube race, has now completed a hattrick of comprehensively broken course records – Broadgate Tower, St.George’s Tower and the Cheesegrater. Shakespeare finished second with 8:28, and Chiara Cristoni bagged the final podium position in 9:18.

Full results here:

Exciting Times

These are exciting times for towerrunning in the UK, especially on the men’s side. Seven UK races in 2018 have produced five different winners so far (Mark Sims, John Tullo, Elliot Slaughter, David Harris and Mark Howard), and in almost all cases the results have been close. Having these five compete in the same race is a mouth-watering prospect; we hope it will happen soon! We now have quite a few contenders for the top spot at any given race. This bodes extremely well for the sport in the UK and demonstrates an increasing depth in the field.

We Loved the Race and the Medals!

It is great to be able to race up 48 floors and nearly 1300 steps in the UK. This is significantly higher than most of the other mid-distance races in the UK which are all in the 35-42 floor range. In addition, as Matt Hudson put it, it's just a really nice stairwell! We hope this building becomes a permanent fixture on the race calendar and is able to attract overseas elites as well.


The medals for this race were all individually hand-crafted for Care International by a woman in Zimbabwe. Each one was unique, depicting a scene that reflects the charity’s work, with a hand-written message at the back. Having these medals was a great touch and added to our fond memories of the event.

Looking for a Total Motion Stair Climb to compete in?  Why not check out our upcoming events, non charity places are usually available too

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