Australians dominated tonight’s 36th-annual Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by the MMRF, claiming the top two spots in both the men’s and women’s elite races.
Winning the Men’s Invitational Race was Australia’s Mark Bourne, 29, in 10:12, while compatriot Suzy Walsham, 39, took the Women’s Invitational Race in 12:05, making her the #2 woman all-time behind only course record-holder Andrea Mayr (11:23, 2006).
Both runners-up were Aussies as well: Darren Wilson, 38, for the men in 10:45 and Brooke Logan, 33, for the women in 12:48.
“It’s a great day for Australia!” said Walsham.
The Run-Up victory for Walsham was her fourth, putting her in a tie with Cindy Harris of Indianapolis, IN, for the most victories ever here by a woman. Walsham won three straight Run-Ups from 2007 to 2009, including a rough-and-tumble affair in 2009 in which she fell hard as the leaders entered the stairwell but made up ground to win with a black eye and bruised jaw.
A four-time national track champion at 1500 meters and 800 meters, Walsham represented Australia in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about ‘Do I want to win four times?’ I just wanted to win again,” she said.
For Bourne, just being in the invitational race at all was a step up: Last year, he competed in the unseeded time trial, winning in 10:55—a time that would have been good for third in the invitational race.
Bourne, 29, is a former Australian mountain running champion, and he won the under-20 national cross-country title in 2002. Last June, he won the Taipei 101 Run-Up, defeating Thomas Dold of Germany by four seconds. Dold, who was expected to vie for his eighth consecutive win here tonight, was not on the starting line, reportedly suffering from the flu.
After taking the lead for good around the 60th floor, Bourne sprinted away from his rivals to win by 43 seconds. "It was great," Bourne told Race Results Weekly, of reaching the observation deck on the 86th floor with a cushion. "Knowing I was in the lead by a comfortable margin I could look out over the edge there and enjoy it for a few seconds."
Finishing third in the men’s race was Rickey Gates, 31, of San Francisco, CA, in 11:01. Erika Aklufi, 36, of Los Angeles, CA, was the third woman, in 12:57.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg