Elite athletes from around the world are preparing to compete for the titles and medals at stake in the first ever ISF 2022 Stairclimbing World Championships, hosted at the Dubai Holding SkyRun on Saturday, November 12, 2022, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The challenge that awaits them is a massive climb up 1,334 steps for a total of 52 floors in Dubai’s landmark Jumeirah Emirates Towers together with hundreds of participants racing for fun, fitness, and charity. The prestigious World Champion titles will be awarded to the first male and female, while gold, silver and bronze medals will go to the first three men and women summiting in the fastest times.
The standing records were set at the last edition of the race on the 2019 Vertical World Circuit®, where Piotr Lobodzinski from Poland and Suzy Walsham from Australia, crushed their own previous records – 6’55” and 8’03” respectively.
For all the athletes, due to the two-year racing halt caused by the pandemic, the prospect of a World Championship is the best reward. Japanese athletes excel in stairclimbing events and among the elites participating in these World Championships are no less than nine competitors.
Among them, Ryoji Watanabe, winner of three VWC races and ranked third from 2017-2019. He’s now looking to top the podium and take home the gold. “Finally, It’s time to make my dream come true!” he said. “Thanks to this sport, I can dream of becoming a world champion. I will stand on the stage of Jumeirah Emirates Towers with the best team to make my dreams come true this Saturday. Thank you, ISF for making this possible!”
His team-mate, Yuri Yoshizumi, ranked fifth in 2017 and two-time winner of the Harukas Skyrun in Osaka, Japan, commented, “I’m very happy to participate in the Stairclimbing World Championships. For the first time in four years, I will be running a stairclimbing race, so I’ll definitely do my best and I’m looking forward to competing with the best athletes in the world!”
Among the favourites, Australian Mark Bourne, with no less than 17 wins in the Vertical World Circuit®, a circuit final title and five consecutive runner-up positions, has sadly had to abandon his hopes for a medal due to last-minute Covid.
Also from Australia, Cindy Reid, a top-five ranked athlete and passionate stair climber since 2010, commented, “Competing in the first ever Stairclimbing World Championship by the ISF is a special moment for me as it is my first stair race since Covid and the birth of my son just over two years ago.”
From Belgium, Omar Bekkali who has totalled top-five positions in the VWC final ranking over the years, had this to say: “Participating in the first ever Stairclimbing World Championships is really a great achievement for me. When I won the race in Hanoi, I met my wife, and today we have a beautiful daughter. I hope this will be my next milestone!”
A potential gold medallist here is Wai Ching Soh from Malaysia, who ranked top-ten in the 2017 and 2018 VWC and in recent years has concentrated his efforts in racing, and winning, many skyscraper races across the world, as well as setting a Guinness World Record for the Greatest Vertical Height Stair Climbing. “This event will help to promote the stairclimbing discipline. I really hope to see it being featured in the Olympic Games one day, but for now I have my eyes on the gold medal. I have trained hard this year and I believe I can clinch this important title,” he declared.
This year’s event will mark the 17th edition of the Dubai Holding SkyRun after a two-year stop due to the pandemic. Since 2016, the Dubai Holding SkyRun has been a key stage of the Vertical World Circuit® (VWC) when a partnership between the International Skyrunning Federation and Dubai Holding brought the VWC for the first time to the Middle East and Dubai.
Huda Buhumaid, Chief Impact Officer, Dubai Holding, commented, “This weekend will see the 17th edition of Dubai’s only official stairclimbing race and the debut of the first and only ISF Stairclimbing World Championships at the Dubai Holding SkyRun 2022. In less than two days to go, we are proud to welcome the elite stairclimbing athletes from all over the world to this highly anticipated event, taking place as part of the annual Dubai Fitness Challenge.”
The Dubai Holding SkyRun, Dubai’s only official stairclimbing race, is a wholly charitable event where all proceeds are donated to support female cancer patients and their wellbeing. The event is in partnership with the Dubai Sports Council, the official sports governing body of the Government of Dubai tasked with developing a holistic sports culture for the emirate.
Since 2008, stairclimbing has been a discipline of the International Skyrunning Federation which governs, promotes and sanctions vertical running, whether at high altitude in the mountains or in city skyscrapers.
All eyes will be on Saturday’s 7:00 am Dubai Holding SkyRun start line, where the world’s elite stairclimbing athletes and other runners from across the UAE will stand side by side before switching on the adrenaline and heading for the stairs, the summit, and the sky for the prestigious world titles and glittering gold, silver and bronze medals.