Walshman, Dold win Empire runs

Feb 3, 2009 - 7:23 PM By Simon Lewis PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Australian Suzy Walsham survived some ground floor rough-housing to successfully defend her women's title and win for the third time in the annual Empire State Building Run-Up on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old Singapore-based athlete was pushed into a wall at the foot of the 86-storey stair climb during a chaotic start as the 60-woman field jostled for position at the entrance to the narrow stairwell.

Walsham also was sent to the floor in the melee but was helped up by a couple of fellow competitors. Once on her feet again, she proceeded to pass around 15 rivals on the 1576-step journey to the iconic building's outdoor observation deck, emerging first into a snow shower and finishing in 13 minutes, 27 seconds before being helped onto a stretcher for medical assistance for facial and knee injuries.

There was also a victory for defending men's champion Thomas Dold of Germany, who won his fourth Run-Up in succession in 10:07.

Having hobbled to the awards ceremony, a seated Walsham, sporting a swollen lip and holding an ice bag on her left knee, said the thought of retiring hurt had not crossed her mind.

"I was face planted into the concrete to the right of the entrance door," Walsham said. "I thought my nose was broken but some girls picked me up and finally got me through the door.

"Then I said to myself 'I'm in a lot of pain, do I stop or do I keep going?' but I thought I hadn't come all this way just to pull out. So I just did the best I could. I knew my strength would be on the last 20 floors and that's where I passed the last two or three girls. It was very, very hard."

Walsham took victory by 13 seconds from Italy's Daniela Vassalli, 33, (13:40) with American four-time race winner Cindy Harris, 40, third in 13:49.

Dold, 24, clocked the second-fastest time in the race's 32-year history behind Australia's Paul Crake, whose record set in 2003 stands at 9:33.

Italy's Marco De Gasperi, 31, was second in 10:29 with American Rickey Gates, 27, third in 10:40.

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