More than 4,000 runners took part in the annual Taipei 101 Run-up yesterday, with Australian Mark Boume and last year’s champion, Italian Valentina Belotti, winning in the men’s and women’s elite group categories.
The annual event, which draws world-class runners and jogging enthusiasts, took place in the morning, with about 4,000 competitors, including elite runners, corporate team racers, individuals and fundraising relay participants, climbing the 2,046 steps to the top.
Boume, a first-timer in the annual run-up event, defeated three-time champion Thomas Dold of Germany by four seconds with a time of 11 minutes and 26 seconds to secure the championship in the men’s elite group, winning NT$200,000 in cash.
Boume finished third in this year’s run-up at the Empire State Building in New York City.
The second and third place in the same group were both taken by foreigners, with Taiwan’s Chen Fu-tsai (陳福財) in fourth in 12:51.
In the women’s event, Belotti, came first for the second year in a row in 13:21, while Lee Hsiao-yu (李筱瑜), a well-known Taiwanese triathlete, finished fifth in 14:49.
Other than professional runners, one-legged Chinese dancer Zhai Xiaowei (翟孝偉), who lost a leg in a car accident at the age of four, also made the run-up.
“It’s an enjoyable thing to push one’s physical limits through sports events and to break through barriers,” said Zhai, who finished the race in 40:35 and came in 85th.
The 96-year-old Peng Hung-nian (彭宏年), a Taipei resident who participated in the race for eight consecutive years, was unable to take part this year because he did not passed the physical examination.
Norbert Lechner from Austria, who joined the race for the first time, said it was the most difficult marathon of its kind he has participated in, comparing it to races in Chicago’s Willis Tower and the Empire State Building.
“The steps are very high and steep,” said 27-year-old Lechner, who added that it was already difficult for him when he reached the stairs on the 30th story and that from the 60th story onward he was just running on will power.
Despite the difficulty, Lechner said he did the race because it is one of the most famous races and “it’s a charity and a good reason to run.”
Organizers said they raised more than NT$2 million (US$66,822) from the race and the series of pre-races for ORBIS International — a non-profit organization working to prevent blindness and offer treatment in developing countries.
Organizers said NT$4 million will be donated to ORBIS after Standard Chartered Bank’s Taiwan branch, which sponsored the event, matches the contributions.
Held under the banner “Run for a Reason,” organizers said the event encourages runners to challenge themselves and to participate in a charity effort at the same time.
Dold called the race an “unbelievable challenge” as the building is “so incredibly high.”
Additional reporting by CNA