3 December 2017

VWC Grand Finale – Walsham and Lobodzinski champions

2017 VWC Champions Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski flanked by Marino Giacometti (ISF) and Mike Wong (SHKP). ©SWISH Photography/Sporting Republic

A record 2,000 runners from over 30 countries climbed to the top of Hong Kong’s tallest tower at the Grand Finale of the 2017 Vertical World Circuit, Sunday, December 3. Australians Suzy Walsham and Mark Bourne were the race winners but the World Champion titles went to Walsham and Poland’s Piotr Lobodzinski.

The “un-top-able” and unstoppable Suzy Walsham is unquestionably the world’s number one skyscraper racer.. For the sixth time running she clinched the Vertical World Circuit Champion title and, for the fifth time, she won the “SHKP Vertical Run for Charity: Race to Hong Kong ICC”. She also chalked up another success today – finishing sixth overall in 13’58”. (Her own record stands at 13’47” set in 2014).

Suzy Walsham, race winner and 2017 VWC Champion. ©SWISH Photography/Sporting Republic

I’m very happy with my run today, it’s such a long, tough building,” said Walsham. You have to stay focussed the whole way up. I went pretty well for 80 floors and was hoping to give my record a good nudge but I really felt it on the last 24, so just battled on but super-happy to be sub-14 minutes and obviously super-happy for my sixth Vertical World Circuit title!”

Second woman was Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi – a full minute behind Walsham – in 14’59”. Australian Alice McNamara closed third in 16’09”.

Men’s podium Watanabe, Bourne, Manzi. ©SWISH Photography/Sporting Republic

Athletes from three different continents topped the men’s podium, led by Australian Mark Bourne who closed in 12’37”. He was VWC Champion in 2013. Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe placed an excellent second in 12’42” and Italian Emanuele Manzi took third in 12’50”.

It was a tough fight as always but I had to really hold on for Ryoji and Emanuele so I’m very happy to win again, my third in the building. Today’s time was not as fast as my best but I’ll always take a win when I can get it!” commented Bourne.

The men’s record still stands at 11’52” set by Australian Darren Wilson in 2015.

Piotr Lobodzinski, 2017 Vertical World Champion. ©SWISH Photography/Sporting Republic

Lobodzinski had a bad day and, for the first time in his life, dropped in a race. “It’s not easy to be in top shape all year and for the four years I’ve been competing, but I always managed to be. I’ve been sick the last few days and completely out of energy for racing so had my first DNF in my career.” However, Lobodzinki secured his fourth VWC champion title thanks to racking up an incredible six wins in the ten-race circuit and added, “It’s a wonderful feeling to be the VWC champion for the fourth time in a row. I’m very happy!”

The Grand Finale of the tour was hosted for the fifth consecutive year, by the “SHKP Vertical Run for Charity: Race to Hong Kong ICC” – 2,120 steps up the 82 floors of Hong Kong’s tallest building, the iconic International Commerce Centre. The Vertical World Circuit Champion titles were awarded here to today to Suzy Walsham and Piotr Lobodzinski, together with an end of season prize purse of HK$ 106,000 to the top three ranked men and women.

Women’s elite finishers. ©SWISH Photography/Sporting Republic

The Vertical World Circuit is sanctioned by the International Skyrunning Federation and, together with a record 2,000 participants, President Marino Giacometti took to the stairs to fully experience the atmosphere, together with relay corporate teams from Sun Hung Kai Properties and race sponsors.

The highly successful event closed an intense season of racing with an impeccable organisation by Sporting Republic, led by David Shin, VWC Asia Pacific representative.

The ten-race tour kicked off in February in Dubai, crossing the globe via London and Paris, summiting New York’s One World Trade Center and on to Manila, Beijing, Sydney, Shanghai and Osaka to conclude with today’s Grand Finale in Hong Kong.

Look out for the 2018 Vertical World Circuit calendar to be announced in January featuring a number of exciting new venues.

Race results

  1. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 12’37”
  2. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 12’42”
  3. Emanuele Manzi (ITA) – 12’50”
  4. Ou Jiajing (CHN) – 12’45”
  5. Omar Bekkali (BEL) – 13’47”


  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 13’58”
  2. Yuri Yoshizumi (JAP) – 14’59”
  3. Alice McNamara (AUS) – 16’09”
  4. Natalia Sedykh (RUS) – 16’40”
  5. Lenka Svabikova (CZE) – 17’15”

2017 Vertical World Circuit final ranking

  1. Piotr Lobodzinski (POL) – 500 points
  2. Mark Bourne (AUS) – 496 points
  3. Ryoji Watanabe (JPN) – 401.6 points
  4. Emanuele Manzi (ITA) – 397.6 points
  5. Omar Bekkali (BEL) – 363.6 points


  1. Suzy Walsham (AUS) – 520 points
  2. Lenka Svabikova (CZE) – 441.6 points
  3. Natalia Sedykh (RUS) – 398.4 points
  4. Cristina Bonacina (ITA) – 392.8 points
  5. Yuri Yoshizumi (JAP) – 293.6 points

* The VWC ranking is based on the best five results out of ten races. 20% extra points were awarded at the Grand Finale

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2017 VWC rankings

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