DOHA: Five of the world’s top tower runners will compete against 320 Qatar residents at the Torch Staircase Run on Saturday.
Organised by Aspire Logistics, it is the first Tower Running Association Grand Prix to come to the Middle East and consists of 1,304 steps to reach the top of the Torch Doha Hotel.
“I was looking for new challenges and running up a building is certainly a big one,” said world champion Suzy Walsham who will arrive this week to take part.
Having represented Australia as national champion in the 1500m at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Walsham turned her attention to tower running after moving to Singapore.
Since taking up the sport, she has risen through the ranks and won back-to-back Tower running world cups in 2012 and 2013 and the prestigious Empire State Building Run Up in New York five times.
One of her main rivals in the race will be Lenka Svabikova from Czech Republic. After competing in athletics since the age of 16, Svabikova switched to tower running after becoming frustrated with her sport.
“It’s probably weird, but because I was not winning in athletics, I wanted to try something else to find new motivation and lost confidence so I could enjoy racing again. The stairs have given me more than that,” said Svabikova.
After 15 years as sprinter, in which races took less than a minute to complete, Svabikova has had to adjust to the more demanding sport of tower running.
Preparing for physically demanding events is something competitor Chritsain Riedl from Germany is used to.
A former ultracyclist, Riedl won the ultracycling world cup in his age category following a non-stop 43 hour/1,000km ride.
“The attraction of tower running to me lies in the fact that there is no other sport in which you can get that fast to your physical limits and therefore feel your body in such an extremely intense way,” he said.