32 races in two weeks. The Towerrunning season is in full swing and the results of three US Masters Races as well as European highlights in London and Madrid led to various position changes in the World Cup rankings.
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Hustle Up the Hancock
The “Hustle” going up John Hancock Center at Chicago´s Magnificent Mile is according to many climbers the most popular stair race of town. For the 2012 edition on February 26th more than 3,600 climbers accepted the challenge and participated in the second Masters Race of the season.
First elite to climb was Jesse Berg (USA), followed by Justin Stewart (USA) and Kevin Crossman (USA). Starting in a 7-8 sec interval these three favourites soon met up in the stairwell and climbed most of the race together. As Kevin Crossman lost some ground at floor 80 the victory went to Justin Stewart who crossed the finish line immediately after Jesse. Finally the Top 3 were within 6 seconds. The female race was taken by 2011 World Cup bronze medalist Kristin Frey – a special win for her in the building, where two years ago her climbing career started. With a very strong finish she held off multiple Hancock winner Cindy Harris. The third place went to Kourtney Dexter and these three all placed among the Top10 overall.
With his victory in Chicago Justin Stewart took the lead in the World Cup ranking and the leading US climbers Kristin Frey and Cindy Harris defended their positions on top of the ranking.
Vertical Rush London
On March 1st about 1,200 climbers lined up at the start of the first European season highlight in London’s Tower 42. The Vertical Rush being a member of the Vertical World Circuit and a Towerrunning World factor 1.5 race attracted elite athletes from nine nations including the reigning World Cup champions Thomas Dold (GER) and Cristina Bonacina (ITA).
Suzanne Walsham (AUS) pulverized the course record for female athletes by more than one minute and finished the race in 5:01 – 49 second ahaed of Alessandra Valgoi (ITA). Another two seconds behind Valgoi Cristina Bonacina came in on third rank. Fastest climber of the day was once again Thomas Dold. After winning in Sao Paulo and New York he achieved his third consecutive victory. After 3:58 Dold reached the finish line and was thereby 13 seconds faster than second placed Italian Fabio Ruga. Three times World Cup bronze medalist Tomas Celko (SVK) finished third after 4:30.
Besides an incredible view over the streets of London Thomas Dold received 120 valuable points for the World Cup, which brought him back in lead again.
Scale the Strat
Three days later on March 4th there were a lot of people gasping for air at the next Masters Race in Las Vegas. It was the second day of the Scale the Strat 2012 – the final climb-off. The day before more than 350 participants tried to qualifiy for this final in the 108-floor inner stairwell of the Stratosphere tower – the tallest building west of the Mississippi.
Fastest stair climber of the final day was Kevin Crossman, who took a mere 7 minutes and 5 seconds to scramble up the 1,455 steps. Eric Leninger and qualifying winner Blue Benadum completed the US triple-vicotry. Best foreign climber was fifth-placed Javier Santiago (MEX). With the assistance of her “pacemaker” Eric Leninger, the first-placed female Kourtney Dexter finished in 8 minutes and 33 seconds, just two seconds ahead of Kristin Frey, who won the qualifying round on Saturday. Rank 3 and 4 went to Cindy Harris (USA) and Veronica Stocker (CAN).
When asked about what it’s like stair racing, Frey meant, “It’s a painful experience. It’s a lot worse than any running race I’ve done or any other sport I’ve participated in.”
With another 120 points Kristin Frey extended her comfortable leading position in the World Cup ranking and made again a big step towards her third consecutive World Cup medal in 2012.
Fight for Air Climb Chicago
On the second March weekend the Presidential Towers in Chicago were in the focus of the stair climbing scene. At The “Fight for Air Climb Chicago” as the fourth 2012 Towerrunning World Cup Masters Race four towers, 180 stories and 2340 stairs had to be mastered.
As previously expected a great duell arised between 2011 World Cup silver medalist Jesse Berg and Justin Stewart, who had the chance to take the World Cup lead again with a first or second place result in Chicago. After the first of four towers Berg was a whisker ahaed – two second faster than Stewart. At the second climb Justin Stewart gained five seconds and overtook Jesse Berg. In the third building Stewart again was six seconds faster and now had an overall advance of nine seconds compared to Berg. All other participants already were more than one minute behind.
Although Jesse Berg dominated the last climb (4:01 minutes) and Justin Stewart only achieved the fourth best time in tower four (4:08 minutes) Stewart won the competition with an overall time of 15:41 minutes. And the newly crowned World Cup leader couldn’t get enough. He went back for another round of 4 x 45 floors and was very fast again.
Instead Jesse Berg had to be pleased with the second place (15:43). Third with an overall time of 17:01 was Javier Santiago (MEX).
The women’s race was dominated by Kristin Frey (18:34) who already celebrated her fourth victory and seventh podium finish in 2012. The second place went to Kourtney Dexter. With a time of 18:55 she was 12 seconds faster than third placed Cindy Harris.
Now with Kristin Frey, Cindy Harris and Kourtney Dexter three US ladies are on top of the world ranking.