Empire State Building Run-Up Presented by Turkish Airlines

Elite Tower Runner Suzy Walsham to defend her title at the Empire State Building Run-Up Presented by Turkish Airlines

Today, the Empire State Building announced that elite tower runner Suzy Walsham will return to the World’s Most Famous Building on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, for the Empire State Building Run-Up (ESBRU) Presented by Turkish Airlines Powered by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, to secure her spot as the most decorated athlete in the history of this race.

Walsham, 45, of Singapore, achieved immortality in 2018 when she earned her sixth-straight and record-extending 9th overall victory in the women’s invitational heat with a time of 12:56. The 42nd annual race will pit Walsham against rival Cindy Harris, currently the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked female tower runners in the world, in a showdown between two titans of the sport as Walsham also won the Taipei 101 Run-Up on May 4, 2019.

“The Empire State Building is the most iconic building in the world, so it’s only fitting that the Run-Up is the world’s most iconic athletic challenge,” said Walsham. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to defend my title once again this year and not one that I take lightly. I have nothing but respect for the building and the 1,576 steps that it takes to achieve greatness.”

The men’s heat will feature a showdown between Run-Up veterans Sproule Love of the U.S. and Ralf Hascher of Germany. The two were involved in one of the most dramatic finishes in race history in 2018 when Love crossed the finish line a mere one second ahead of Hascher.

Among the leading contenders in the women’s and men’s invitational heats are Shari Klarfeld of the U.S. and Maria Elisa Lopez Pimentel of Mexico, as well as David Roeske of the U.S. and Fabio Ruga of Italy, all of whom finished in the top six in their respective heats in 2018.

In addition to the roster of international elites, the Run-Up’s lottery participants also reflect the growing global reach of the historic race. Runners from New ZealandMalaysiaBelgiumEnglandChinaSpainFinlandCanada, and Italy will assemble at the landmark to climb their way to the top.

empire state building run up

Turkish AirlinesTurkey’s national flag carrier and the airline that flies to more countries and international destinations than any other airline, returns for its second year as presenting sponsor of the 2019 Run-Up. This year, Turkish Airlines will be providing 20 roundtrip airline tickets to elite tower running athletes around the globe to inspire new runners to take on the challenge of the Empire State Building Run-Up. Turkish Airlines’ New Yorkoffice is located in the Empire State Building, with its global headquarters based in Istanbul.

“It is truly an honor to once again be part of such a momentous event, at one of the most iconic buildings in the world,” said Turkish Airlines New York General Manager Cenk Ocal. “People from all over the world dream about seeing this building in person, and very few get the opportunity to climb it, so it comes with great pleasure to provide runners the opportunity to see the world by gifting them with tickets on Turkish Airlines to one of our 300-plus destinations around the world.”

Returning as the official charity of the Run-Up is the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). As a world leader in helping people with physical challenges get access to sports and an active lifestyle, CAF believes that participation in physical activity at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life. 

“This iconic and challenging athletic event brings together supporters and challenged athletes to help further our mission. Our group of fundraisers doing the run-up and impressive group of challenge athletes form a powerful team that shows the world what’s possible when individuals with physical disabilities get the support needed to achieve their goals,” said Laura Stein, Sr. Marketing Director for CAF.

In addition to Turkish Airlines and CAF race heats, participants in the race include representatives from charity partner the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the men’s and women’s invitational, media, celebrities, New York City real estate brokers, lottery participants and, for the third year, members of the New York City Police Department and the Fire Department of New York.

The Empire State Building’s world-famous tower lights will shine in Turkish Airlines’ colors, red and white, on the evening of the race in celebration of the event.



Steps climbed in the race


Distance climbed in the race (approximately one-fifth of a mile vertically)


Men’s course record, set by Paul Crake of Australia in 2003


Women’s course record, set by Andrea Mayr of Austria in 2006


Most race victories in Men’s Invitationals, held by Thomas Dold of Germany (2006–11)


Most race victories in Women’s Invitationals, held by Suzy Walsham of Australia (2007, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)


Date of 2019 ESBRU

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