Aussies win annual Empire State Building climb

February 7, 2013 - 2:31 AM
Empire State Run Up

Contestants make their way up 86 flights of stairs at during the Empire State Building Run-Up, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — A pair of Australians won a race to the top — or to the 86th floor, anyway.

Aussies captured the top spots in the men's and women's races in the annual Empire State Building Run-up on Wednesday night.

Mark Bourne won for the first time with a time of 10 minutes, 12 seconds. Fellow Aussie Suzy Walsham won the women's division in 12:05. It's the fourth time she's won the race, tying the record for most wins by a woman.

"I'm so thrilled that I won," Walsham said, adding that in comparison to previous years, "I feel surprisingly good" at the finish. She's run the race a total of six times.

Bourne was doing the climb for the second time.

It's "a great feeling to come out on top," he said.

Australians took both second-place slots as well, with Darren Wilson finishing in 10:45 seconds and Brooke Logan finishing in 12:48.

The previous men's champion, Thomas Dold of Germany, did not race for what could have been his eighth consecutive title.

About 700 people from around the world did take part — up 86 flights of stairs at the Empire State Building. That's a total of 1,576 steps, starting at the lobby and finishing at the observation deck.

The run-up used to be held during the day before being switched to evening hours last year to allow more participation. The event is put on by the New York Road Runners, which also puts on the annual New York City Marathon.

The race "is a real challenge," said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of NYRR. "This is not something you do any day of the week."

She added, "It's a — pun intended — high."

The Empire State Building race is among the more high-profile tower climbs in the world. Participants are coming from around the United States, as well as countries including Belgium, Japan and Papua New Guinea.