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What is Tower Running?

Tower running events are sometimes held in iconic buidings, such as the Empire State Building.
Running up a skyscraper staircase is typically done in tower running.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2014
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Tower running is a sport which involves racing on foot inside a man-made tower. Most classically, tower running involves running up the staircases of skyscrapers, although tower runners could conceivably traverse structures in other ways, using things like platforms and ramps to make the sport even more dynamic than it already is. While tower running is one way to get extremely fit, it is also very grueling, and even top athletes in the sport admit that tower running is painful.

This sport is also sometimes referred to as stairclimbing, in a reference to the way that most tower runners travel, and while it might seem a bit strange to the less athletically inclined, the sport is international in scope, with top runners from all over the world competing for tower running honors. Often, organizers use iconic buildings for tower running matches, such as Taipei 101 and the Empire State Building, with the fame of the building helping to promote the event.

As anyone who has walked up a long flight of stairs knows, ascending stairs can be painful, and the pain is increased dramatically when running, because running is a high-impact sport. Tower runners must be able to endure the stresses on their feet and legs while running, and they must also avoid tripping on the stairs, which could cause serious injury, especially in a pack of runners, as a domino effect could potentially ensue.

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Tower runners point out that their sport can be done anywhere, at any time, and that the first step in training as a tower runner is finding a flight of stairs and running up it. For athletes who don't have tall staircases handy, steep hills are said to be effective for training as well. When in training and competition as a tower runner, it is important to stay stretched and toned and take care of one's body, as the possibility for severe running injuries is greatly increased by adding stairs into the mix.

One advantage of tower running is that it is, by its very nature, designed to take place indoors. In areas with smoggy or hostile climates, tower running can be a good way to get exercise when it is not possible to go outside. The sport also requires minimal equipment; a good pair of running shoes is all that's needed, making it accessible to lower income individuals who might be trying to get or stay fit. Tower running can also be fitted into a variety of schedules; for example, someone who works in a high rise could arrive to work a bit early and indulge in some tower running to get to work, rather than taking the elevator.

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