Some 315 participants to climb 86 flights in iconic New York City building
NEW YORK - (January 22, 2009) - Defending champions Thomas Dold of Germany and Suzy Walsham of Australia will attempt to return to the top of New York at the 32nd NYRR Empire State Building Run-Up on Tuesday, February 3, it was announced by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.
One of the more extreme races that NYRR organizes, the Empire State Building Run-Up will test the limits of some 315 competitors from 25 states and 17 countries as they race up 86 flights - 1,576 steps - to the outdoor observation deck of the world's most famous office building and the tallest building in New York City. In 2008, Dold crossed the finish line in 10 minutes, 8 seconds, while Walsham finished in 12:44.
"This race tests the stamina and pain thresholds of all who attempt it, and both Thomas and Suzy have scaled the heights demanded by this grueling test as fiercely as anybody in the history of the race," Wittenberg said.
Dold, 24, ran the fastest of his four Run-Ups in 2008 to become the fifth male three-peater in the race's 31-year history. He will be seeking his fourth consecutive victory this year, and will enter into an elite category if he accomplishes the feat. The legendary Paul Crake and Al Waquie are tied for the most wins with five consecutive titles apiece. Dold, who is a university student in Stuttgart, Germany, is as close to a professional tower climber as the sport has to offer, with a website, several sponsors and a list of victories around the globe. Since December, he has commuted to Frankfurt a couple of times per week to train at the Main Tower, a skyscraper that is 200 meters tall (nearly 1,000 stairs and 52 floors).
"I don't think about a fourth consecutive title," Dold said. "I will do it like the last year: prepare well and show all what I have trained for. That's what I can do. Which place that means for me, that depends on the other runners. Maybe there is a chance, if I have a really, really good day and am healthy that I will be the first European to break the 10-minute mark. That would be an unbelievable honor for me to join the club of the sub-10s."
Walsham, 35, previously competed on the international scene as a middle-distance track runner, finishing sixth in the mile and reaching the semifinals of the 800 meters at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. In winning her second Run-Up title in 2008, Walsham bettered her 2007 time by 28 seconds despite a calf-muscle injury that had limited her regular running to almost zero prior to the race. A native of Sydney, Walsham moved to Singapore in 2006 to work as an accountant in the finance group of Symantec, a global internet security company.
Cindy Moll-Harris, 40, of Indianapolis, will once again aim for her fifth title. Moll-Harris is the only woman to have won the race four times (1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003). Other notable returning champions include 70-year-old Nina Kuscsik of Long Island, a three-time winner in this race (1979-81) and a two-time New York City Marathon champion (1972-73) and 54-year-old Jim Ochse of Allentown, PA, a two-time winner (1980, '82) who currently works as a personal trainer and coach.
Ginette Bedard, 75, of Howard Beach, and Piero Dettin, 71, of Italy, are the oldest female and male participants entered in the race. On the other end of the age spectrum, 18-year-old Katherine Wagner of Hershey, PA, and 19-year-old Yipeng Huang of New York, are the two youngest entrants.
Crake, of Australia, holds the course record at 9:33, which he ran in 2003 to win his fifth consecutive Run-Up. Crake, whose course record was three minutes faster than Gary Muhrcke's winning time in the inaugural 1978 race (12:33), was paralyzed in a tragic cycling accident in 2006, the same year that Andrea Mayr of Austria set the women's record of 11:23.
A record 215 runners (156 men, 59 women) finished the 2008 invitational race. For more information, visit: NYRR.org.
Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Director
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