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Japan is ready to host 2023 Stairclimbing World Championships

Japan’s Yuri Yoshizumi, 2022 Stairclimbing World Champion, is ready to welcome runners from around the world to her home town. ©Harukas Skyrun

The host venue for the 2023 ISF Stairclimbing World Championships is ready to welcome athletes from around the world in one of Japan’s tallest buildings on Sunday, November 19, 2023.

Competitors will battle for medals and world titles at the Harukas Skyrun in the fifth edition of the race. The lung-busting vertical challenge climbs 1,610 steps to the observatory on the 59th floor of the Abeno Harukas, a 300-metre-high skyscraper in Osaka.

After last year’s successful launch of the first-ever Stairclimbing World Championships in Dubai, this year’s event will see a line-up of champions and race winners including World Champion, Yuri Yoshizumi, racing in her home town. She not only holds the race record here but has won the race twice. “Welcome to Japan!” she declared. ”I’m very proud that the second Stairclimbing World Champs will be held here in Osaka. Of course, I will do my best to win and update my record. I’m thrilled the event will attract athletes from around the world and hope they enjoy the race and their experience in Japan.

Ryoji Watanabe from Japan, silver medallist at the 2022 Stairclimbing World Championships, will battle for a medal for his country. ©Sporting Republic

With a total of 1,047 participants, foreign athletes will face fierce competition from Japan. At the 2022 Championships Japan’s Ryoji Watanabe took the silver medal and the entire women’s podium was Japanese – a strong message that the battle for medals will not be easy. “I’m very happy that the World Championships will be held in Osaka,” commented Watanabe. “I’m looking forward to compete with rivals from around the world and make it a great event!”

Italy’s Fabio Ruga, 2022 bronze medallist, added, “I’m really pleased to participate again in the Stairclimbing World Championships. The fact that it’s a one-off makes it all the more significant – a bit like participating in the Olympics! I’m enthusiastic and can’t wait to battle with the strongest international athletes. I hope Osaka will bring me luck to improve last year’s bronze medal.”

In the last edition of the race in 2019, Laura Manninen from Finland placed second and is back aiming for a medal after a recent injury. “I turned 50 in April and my goal was to beat all national age group records from 3,000m to the marathon. Life does not always go as planned and instead of running, I ended up on the doctor’s table to re-attach my hamstring… No races this year I thought, until I got this great chance to come back to the stairs. This is my first test after rehab and I’m so grateful to get this opportunity from four weeks horizontal to the best vertical challenge I could imagine.
I will fully enjoy every step on the stairs!”

Finland’s Laura Manninen, after a recent injury, is back aiming for a medal. ©Sporting Republic

Included in the elite line-up are, from Japan, Yuko Tateishi and Airi Sawada, last year’s silver and bronze medallists together with Shoki Yajima and Satoshi Kato; Omar Bekkali, Belgium; Cristina Bonacina, Italy; Ignacio Cardona, Spain; Cindy Reid, Australia; Laurence Ball and Aaron Foster, United Kingdom.

Joining them will be a handful of strong runners from the skyrunning mountain discipline presented by ISF member countries: Bulgaria, Mongolia, Montenegro, Portugal and Serbia, who include medallists from the various ISF 2023 World Championships. It will be interesting to see how they will perform indoors against the world’s top stair climbers, but one thing they all have in common is a strong motor and the will to climb sky-high.

An open race, gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the first three men and women to reach the observatory, together with the prestigious World Champion titles to the first male and female finishers. Prize money amounting to €7,000 will also be awarded.

The Abeno Harukas, 300m high, is the host venue for the 2023 Stairclimbing World Championships. ©Florentyna Leow

The records to beat for this gruelling ascent are 8’29” by Australian Mark Bourne (2019) and 10’14” for Yuri Yoshizumi (2017).  In 2022, Malaysian Wai Ching Soh and Yoshizumi were crowned Stairclimbing World Champions. Sunday’s event will no doubt see Japan on the podium, but with so many new countries participating, only the finish line will reveal the new champions and who will wear the gold, silver and bronze medals.

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