After the first three stages of the 2019 Vertical World Circuit in Seoul, Milan and Ho Chi Minh City, the international skyscraper racing series will head for Paris on Thursday, May 16, the fourth stop on the eleven-race tour.
The VertiGo, an official VWC race since 2014, takes place on the tallest building in France, the Tour First, which will host more than 1,000 runners together with elites competing for the VWC ranking points. They will climb 48 race floors and 954 steps to the finish line and, from the roof top, enjoy a unique 360° view of the city of Paris.
Racing for VWC ranking points are 20 élite athletes from eight countries, including two-time winner, Emanuele Manzi from Italy, currently ranked fifth. “I have a special feeling for the Paris race having won it twice! As the proverb says, third time lucky…even though I’m one year older I’ll give it another shot. May the best man win!”
Another Italian, Fabio Ruga, after a year’s absence from the circuit, placed an excellent third in the recent Allianz Vertical Run in Milan “I’m excited to be racing again in the VWC and to face some of the world’s top athletes – whom I hope to beat! Let’s see how it goes in Paris. My objective this year is to try to beat Piotr [Lobodzinski] and to prevent him from winning the world champion title!”
The men’s competition will be tough with Belgian Omar Bekkali, ranked third, on the start line. Participating for the fourth time in the event, last year he closed just 2” off Manzi. “It is a pleasure to come back to Paris. The organisation is great and the start line is really fun. As the VertiGo donates to kids in need, it’s another plus,” he said.
Aiming for the podium will also be Spaniards Ignacio Cardona and Antonio Soler, ranked fourth and eighth respectively and, from Japan, Takaaki Koyama.
Last year’s runner-up in the women’s field was Sarah Frost from the UK. “Paris will be my second VWC race this year following Milan. I was pleased with my eighth position there and will be looking to better that in Paris, but there is definitely tougher competition this year! Having raced at VertiGo before, I’m feeling mentally prepared for the challenging 954 steps, so I can’t wait to see how the race goes. It will be a good indicator of my fitness as I prepare for my third VWC race of the year in London in July,” she stated.
Italy’s Cristina Bonacina, ranked sixth, is a VertiGo veteran. “I’m happy to return to Paris for my fifth race there and really hope to get a podium place like last year. After Paris I’ll be participating in the One World Trade Center in New York, which, being much longer, is more suited to my style.”
Paris has a special attraction for couples, not just for the romance the city inspires, but the VertiGo, which was won last year by Italian husband-and-wife team, Emanuele Manzi and Valentina Belotti. British couple Sonja Shakespeare and David Harris will both return for the third time running, this time as man and wife after tying the knot in March. “The last two races were not ideal for me; the first race was wet and cold outside and the second was too hot. This time I’m hopeful it will be third time lucky!” said Shakespeare who placed fourth. “I recently changed my training strategy, so I’m really excited to see how my result compares to my previous races here!”
Harris commented, “I’m looking forward to returning to Paris. Although my race preparation has been far from ideal with an ongoing back issue meaning very limited training, I’m still determined to get another PB here. As always, the Vertical World Circuit offers high calibre competition and it’s good to be able to measure my progress against the very best!”
Whoever takes the win in the men’s and women’s categories, the standing records set by VWC champions Piotr Lobodzinski and Suzy Walsham will be hard to beat: 4’42” and 5’43” respectively.
Thursday evening, Paris will light up its tallest tower to the rhythm of more than a thousand runners taking on the challenge to reach the top first and raise funds for PLAY International, organisers of the event.
Antoine Biard, PLAY International communication manager, stated, “PLAY International is very happy to be part of the VWC. We are delighted to welcome the top level athletes of the circuit for the occasion and are very proud to be the French stage of this prestigious circuit.”
VertiGo is an official race on the Vertical World Circuit, where this year, five out of eleven races count for the final ranking and prize purse. Races stretch across the globe from New York to London, Paris and Milan in Europe, via Dubai in the Middle East and on to Asia, hub of the world’s tallest towers in Seoul, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing, Shanghai, Osaka, concluding with the Grand Finale in Hong Kong on December 1.