Broadgate Tower Run Up - "A Special Race"

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Sarah Frost, Total Motion Towerrunners; July 2019

On Saturday 20thJuly, the 5thannual edition of the Broadgate Tower Run Up took place in central London. This race doubled as the 6thrace in the 2019 Vertical World Circuit, and attracted many international towerrunners, for what turned out to be a very exciting race with new records set in both the men’s and women’s categories.

As the previous record holder at the tower (5.04 for the 35 floors and 877 steps), I knew I had my work cut out to try and retain my title! Despite whatever happened in the initial elite wave, I was also looking forward to enjoying the rest of the day spectating all of the other race categories. The Broadgate Tower Run Up hosts many race formats, such as the standard single climb, family category, and triple or dozen climb categories which are equivalent to a quarter or full vertical mile in elevation. Some participants were competing on behalf of their chosen charities, others were there to enjoy a new racing experience. We even had firefighters, dressed in full gear, completing multiple ascents – the real heroes! Here is my overview and personal experience of the brilliant day.

Men’s elite race

The elite men were the first of the day to race up the tower. Racing conditions were ideal – warm and breezy. I happened to jog past the results screen at the start line during my own warm-up and did a double take at the insane results. Japanese athlete Ryoji Watanabe absolutely obliterated the previous record of 3.58 to 3.41 – the standard has now reached a new level! What an amazing performance. 2ndand 3rdpositions were decided by less than one second – fellow TMT runner and relative newcomer Laurence Ball scooped up 2ndin 4 minutes flat, with French athlete Mickey Pourcelot exceedingly close behind, also in 4 minutes.

Here’s what Laurence had to say:

“Broadgate Tower was my first international elite tower race and it did not disappoint; a great venue, brilliant organisation and a real buzz around the arena. My plan was to go out hard but controlled, and take a chunk out of my test-run time. I was surprised and elated with my final time, and was lucky to have the split seconds on my side! First place Ryoji was in a different league, showing us where we need to get to. A fantastic morning – well done to all TM Tower Runners, many of whom did multiple climbs!”

Similarly, it was a tight battle for 4thand 5thposition. My training pal Mark Howard set himself a new impressive PB of 4.03, whilst Takaaki Koyoma from Japan also improved on his time set last year, from 4.14 to 4.03 for 5thplace. Also worth mentioning is UK-based Ross Jarvis, who ran 4.09 to take 6thposition – in his first ever tower race. Let’s hope we see some more stair races from Ross!

Women’s elite race

The women’s elite wave started shortly after. Every year I try to take the pressure off myself by focusing on my own result and trying not to think about the standard of the other athletes. I knew I was well prepared in my goal of breaking the 5-minute barrier – training had been going well and I was feeling confident about precisely how I was going to tackle the 35 floors. I had changed my strategy from last year – by slowing down from the start, I had learned how to climb at a more consistent pace for the whole route, rather than starting fast and gradually reducing speed the whole way. Decreasing my time from 5.04 to 4.40 was definitely a pleasant surprise and exceeded my expectations – it is amazing though how quickly ambitions and goals can change, as I am now planning to run sub 4.30 next year, now I know it is possible!

The other elite women all ran brilliantly - four more women joined me in breaking the previous record, which is pretty cool really. I think this just shows how the women’s standard is improving, and I can’t wait to see more improvements next year – and be a part of it too! Yuko Tateishi from Japan bettered her 2018 result of 3rdplace by knocking off 17 seconds, to take 2ndwith 4.52. Newcomer to the tower, Anais Leroy from France completed the podium with a very impressive 4.55. I’m looking forward to racing these two in more VWC races later in the year!

Broadgate Tower is where I get in the majority of my stair training with my fellow Total Motion Towerrunners, so it is definitely true to say this building is special to me, and is the place where I feel most comfortable getting uncomfortable in training! I am definitely very lucky to have regular access to this tower, and I am certain that this is one of the main reasons for my large improvement in time, particularly when I can train with fellow TMT runners like Mark who help to push me closer to my limits. Similarly to other sports, towerrunning is a combination of challenging physical and mental effort. Having the regular sessions at Broadgate has greatly improved my confidence in this tower in particular, because I have perfected my inner dialogue on the way up when I am racing. Essentially, I know exactly what to tell myself on what floor to help keep me going.  I have also perfected every single turn and step to find the most efficient method for ascending the tower as fast as possible, whilst wasting as little energy as possible. Now I have to wait and see if I can translate some of this new found ‘racing confidence’ into other Vertical World Circuit events taking place later this year.

You can see highlights of the Vertical World Circuit Elite race here.

Ultimate competitors

This year, there were a few competitors who decided that a vertical mile simply isn’t enough, and therefore entered into literally every single category. As in, the single, triple, and dozen climb categories. So, 16 climbs of the tower, or 560 floors, over 14,000 steps. Say what?! Overall eight competitors achieved this incredible feat, and with overall climb times ranging from 1.26.56 to 2.53.20, they all deserve a huge congratulations for completing this mammoth challenge.

Extremely Ultimate competitors

Let’s just take it up another notch – need to mention Catalan, Marc Toda, who thought that he would make the trip to London worthwhile by entering the Ultimate, after finishing off the Elite category in the morning. Felix Allen, a local to Broadgate Tower, and ultra-runner Adam Holland also both seemed to have the same idea. Marc finished 11thplace, one position ahead of Felix in the Elite category, with times of 4.26 and 4.33 respectively. By the end of the day however, Felix had managed to turn the tables on Marc, and won the overall Ultimate category in 1 hour 26.56, with Marc close behind in 1 hour 33.56. Hats off to all of you, especially Marc who had plenty of energy left for a night out with us at Pop World after!

Everyone is a winner

Overall, there are just too many notable performances to mention – everyone who participated on the day did an amazing job. I was back in the stairwell alongside plenty of other Total Motion Towerrunners teammates after we were finished with the elite category. We all love volunteering at these events and seeing the other competitors toughing it out on the stairs. We completely understand what you were all going through!  I hope you all enjoyed the ascents as much as I did shouting (words of encouragement) at you all on the way up past the 30thfloor.

So what’s next? The Broadgate Tower Run Up 2020 is set to be an even better event, with the same standard of world class athletes participating, thanks to the partnership with the Vertical World Circuit. I will of course be seeking to retain my title and run sub 4.30, so hopefully I can put in plenty more training before next year to make sure this happens. In addition, it has been such a privilege training alongside plenty of newcomers to towerrunning, who all pulled off such impressive PB’s and performances on the day. It is always great to see this wonderful and unique sport growing in popularity. I’m sure we will be welcoming plenty of new towerrunners to our weekly training sessions in the lead up to this event next year. A huge thanks to Matt at Total Motion for putting on such a fab event, to all of the sponsors, and of course to all of you amazing entrants who were brave enough to conquer the tower! I hope to see you all at training soon. #STAIRSUP

Vertical World Circuit Elite Race Video

Sarah Frost Instagram @SarahChaneyFrost

Thank you to Ben Lumley for the images.

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