Japan’s tallest tower, the Abeno Harukas in Osaka, will see some of the world’s top athletes race up the 1,610 steps in the seventh stage of the Vertical World Circuit on Sunday, November 4.
A record field of 1,500 runners will climb the 59 floors to the rooftop in the third edition of the Harukas SkyRun. The 2017 winners and record holders will be back on the start line with some tough competition coming from a stacked line-up of international VWC competitors aiming for precious ranking points.
The records to beat were set last year by Poland’s Piotr Lobodzinski and Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi in 8’34 and 10’14” respectively. “I am very happy to come back to Japan for the third Harukas Skyrun. Previous years were lucky for me because I won two times. The stairs in Osaka are very steep which is what suits me,” commented Lobodzinski. “My last training sessions were perfect – better than last year before the race. I’m as strong and confident as ever.”
The men’s field will see no less than seven out of the top ten ranked athletes pushing the pace, with Australia’s Mark Bourne, who placed second last year, representing the biggest challenge for Lobodzinski.
“I’m back in Osaka and am looking forward to the Harukas Skyrun on Sunday. It’s a tough race with a steep finish, but I’m keen to put in a strong performance,” said Bourne.
From Japan, Ryoji Watanabe, in third position last year, will be aiming high. They will be joined by Omar Bekkali from Belgium, Liang Liang He from China and Spaniards, Ignacio Cardona, Mikel Besora and Antonio Soler.
Yuri Yoshizumi is the all-out women’s favourite. “Harukas Skyrun is my first VWC race for this year. I want to win because Osaka is my hometown and I would like to take three consecutive victories, but first of all I want to enjoy running and do my best.”
Racing on Sunday will be Iwona Wicha from Poland, in second position last year, together with Rosalyn Russell from the Philippines, ranked fifth and Australian Brooke Logan, tenth. However, some strong athletes new to the sport, could add a surprise element, such as Esbé Strydom from South Africa and Laura Manninen from Finland. “I’m a total rookie since I started tower running in September,” said Manninen. “It was just half of this vertical, so I have no idea what to expect, except a bit of pain and burning. I consider this as a learning trip towards Hong Kong which is my main goal this year, my ultimate dream.”
The Harukas Skyrun is the seventh stage of the Vertical World Circuit where the ranking is based on the results of five out of nine races. Sunday’s race will unveil the latest ranking positions before the semi-final in London on November 24 and no doubt see the continued rise of Japanese stars climb on the podium.