Gorge Heimann from Germany set out for the top.
The cloud-capped Ping An International Finance Center (PAFC) in Futian CBD in Shenzhen had 116 of its floors conquered by tower runners in the 2019 PAFC International Vertical Marathon Masters yesterday morning.
Some 400 contestants from 17 nationalities set out for the finish line on the 116th floor after Daniel Cecetka, president of the Towerrunning World Association (TWA), fired the starting gun.
Both the men’s and women’s crowns for this year’s edition went to domestic runners. Liu Zhisen, an ex-serviceman who embarked on tower running in 2016, finished the 3,201-stair ascent in 19 minutes and 52 seconds, while Jian Muhua, a female student from Xi’an Jiaotong University, overtook the top-seeded runner, Suzy Walsham from Australia, to finish the race in 23 minutes and 6 seconds.
“Racing in Shenzhen’s highest building is really an unforgettable experience for me. The tower is difficult to ascend, but you shouldn’t give up. Every step closer to the finishing line counts,” said Liu.
Ye Zhaoyang, the winner of the men’s amateur group, finished the race in 20 minutes and 2 seconds, which was 15 seconds faster than the second runner-up in the professional group.
The skyscraper with a height of 592.5 meters, the fourth-tallest tower in the world, attracted tower running masters from around the world for the challenge. Gorge Heimann from Germany, the world’s current No. 1 male tower runner who finished second in last year’s edition, told the Shenzhen Daily that the tower was probably the most challenging track he has conquered in recent years.
“The tower consists of a lot of broken paths. There are several refugee floors between the staircases, posing difficulties in adjusting your pace and breath. I finished sixth, which was not really a satisfactory result, but the race itself was awesome and well organized. I will come next year for a better result,” he said.
Walsham, the world’s current No. 1 female tower runner, also stated that she flew to Shenzhen to attend the race just a week after winning the Empire State Building Run-up in New York.
The vertical marathon also witnessed the perseverance and courage of physically challenged contestants. He Yiyi, a former footballer, finished the race with only one leg. “The race is difficult but worthwhile. I’ve never practiced tower running before, and ascending such a tall building brings more suffering for me than for other contestants. Fortunately, I didn’t give up and finally made it to the end,” he said.
As a certified race of the TWA, winners of the vertical marathon will add 200 bonus points to their TWA rankings.
Tower running is a rising extreme sport where the participants race the internal staircases of skyscrapers. Besides the PAFC, other landmark towers across the world, such as Taipei 101, the Eiffel Tower and Menara KL Tower in Malaysia, are also frequently conquered by tower runners.