Empire State Building Run-Up

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The Empire State Building Run-Up: It's the most famous tower race in the world. It challenges athletes from all over the globe to run the 1576 stairs (86 flights). This year I was one of them. When I got the email from Turkish Airlines, the sponsor of the race, I thought they were joking. It is so hard to get a ticket for this race and I never even thought about running up the Empire State Building.

But since I love challenging myself, I confirmed the invitation right away and started training for the race the following day. Right now I'm in the middle of my half marathon training which is why I couldn't really focus too much on the Empire State Building Run-Up race but there were a few things I insisted on practicing and emphasizing:

How do you train for a tower race?

Right after I replied to the invitation email I googled the question "How do you train for a tower race?" and was surprised that my current training with a well balanced mix of strength training and running was already a perfect preparation for a tower race. Racing a tower race means being able to move your body weight not only vertically but horizontally as well. I switched to more repetitions with less weight for muscular endurance within my leg workouts three times a week. I squatted as usual, did a lot of walking lunges, step-ups, jump squats, wall-sits and worked on my upper body like I always do twice a week. Strengthening your body is key for success during a stair climbing event.

I also took the stairs whenever I could and became best friends with the stair master at my gym. Luckily it has this fun workout where you can actually set it up to climb the Empire State Building. I did this four times. Additionally I ran up 69 flights in my building once. That was it.

I have to admit that my overall endurance and strength is pretty decent, which is why the race probably went the way it did for me.

Empire State Building Run-Up: A long way to the top?

At first, it sounds pretty intimidating to run up the Empire State Building. However, doing it wasn't too bad. The crowd was pretty competitive. There were a lot of athletes with disabilities from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) along with a few very experienced tower racers from all over the world, celebrities, media and influencers. My wave started at 8:10 pm and included 15 other runners who wanted to make it to the top of New York's most iconic landmark.

Most of them ran the race before. I had no idea what to expect. 17:36 minutes later it was over already. My legs were fine the entire time - the only thing that made me struggle a bit was the breathing. The secret to breathing while running a tower race is to take as much stairs as you can at the same time. Using the handrails to pull yourself through the race is legal, which is why I did it during 80% of the race.

I left my group behind, caught a few from the wave ahead of me and motivated a suffering runner on flight 84 to keep going. It wasn't a long way to the top because the time went by so fast, but it sure is the ultimate test of endurance. I placed 51st overall and 15th of all females which was 5th place in my age group which was dominated by the pro athletes. I'm very happy with my results after only 3 weeks of training.

Empire State Building Run-Up registration 2019

If you're interested in participating in the Empire State Building Run-Up you can register for the Empire State Building Run-Up lottery in November 2018 on the NYC Runs Website. Only 200 people will be selected to run the race. I really hope that I will be able to run the race again next year. The Empire State Building Run Up will be hosted on May 14 2019. Maybe we will see each other there this year?

Why you can trust Sabrina Wieser
Runningbrina is committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Her editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Sabrina uses data-driven methodologies to evaluate all products, so all brands are measured equally.
  • Most featured running blog, past 6 years
  • USATF certified running coach
  • Experienced endurance athlete
  • 7 marathons

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