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Race Report: Kingdom Tower Vertical Run

It was one for the record books. With less than 3 days notice, the inaugural Kingdom Tower Vertical Run was set to take place on October 23, 2021. Participants from all around Saudi Arabia arrived at the Kingdom Tower to take on the stairs climbing challenge for breast cancer awareness. To this Race Director's knowledge, it was the first vertical run of its kind in the capital, and maybe even the Kingdom.

Considering the short notice of the race announcement, the number and determination of challengers did not disappoint. In total, there were 160 participants, and 158 finishers - one non-finisher vowed to come back and "finish it next year" with a bit more training. It was great to see that so many were willing to go out and try something new, and it was especially great to see women joining to promote the message of breast cancer awareness. In total, there were 52 female finishers, making up one-third of the total field of participants.

The Kingdom Centre Vertical Run had a diverse field of participants too, with a total of 22 countries represented at the finish line. Runners were from all over, with representatives from Great Britain (12), India (11), the United States (7), the Philippines (7), Syria (3), Pakistan (3), Jordan (3), Lebanon (2), Egypt (2), Germany (1), Sudan (1), Afghanistan (1), South Africa (1), Côte d'Ivoire (1), Oman (1), Eritrea (1), Spain (1), Czechia (1), Sri Lanka (1), Bangladesh (1), and Portugal (1).

It was a really impressive field of runners who made it to the top in an outstanding fashion. They made climbing 99-stories look easy.The average duration for participants to get to the top was 24 minutes and 38 seconds. Considering that the climb was 300+ meters, the average time it took to climb 10 meters was only 49 seconds! Out of this very impressive field, there were 12 spots available on the podium: the top 3 overall female and male runners, and the top 3 Masters (40+) female and male runners.

The top spot on both women's podiums went to Maria Coker from Great Britain with an incredible result of 00:15:09. In second place for the overall females was local legend and R7 Run Club member, Sarah Alabdullatif, with a strong 00:16:19 finish. In third place was another Saudi champion, Deema Alfaris, with a time of 00:16:35. The second and third place spots on the Female Masters podium went to Ronel Wienand from South Africa with a time of 00:17:11, and Saudi Mona AlSabeg with a time of 00:21:28, respectively.

The first and second place spots on the men's overall podium went to 2 R7 Run Club members, Naif Bin Hubaysh and Abdulelah Al Bakri, respectively, who both finished the challenge in an incredible sub-12 minutes! Naif's record will be the time to beat next year at 00:11:54. The third place spot went to American, Kevin Bishop, who finished in 00:12:58. The top spot on the Male Masters podium went to R7 Run Club member, Abdulrahman Habib, with a time of 00:14:21. The second place spot went to the German Ironman from Riyadh Triathletes, Thomas Brackmann, with a time of 00:14:52. The third place spot went to Filipino Riyadh Road Runners member, Ralph Chan, who finished in 00:15:16.

There were also a few notable mentions, such as the 3 veteran runners, Hasan Aldawood, Wahab Al Eisa, and Hussam Al Sadah, who drove 400+km all the way from Qatif to participate and finished in an outstanding fashion with times of 00:18:04, 00:19:25, and 00:21:11, respectively. Also, Mohammed Alshami, who was by far the most outgoing participant, making friends with all the organisers and volunteers along the way. Mohammed fought hard to raise his head up high and reach the finish line.

There were also the 2 members of the Kingdom Centre security team, Khalaf Alenezi, and Nasser Alabdullah, who stayed up all night before the race and all morning prior to the race to make sure everything went smoothly. They enjoyed the event preparation and vibes so much that they decided to participate at the very last minute!

None of this would have been possible without our partners at the Kingdom Centre who hosted this event, and made sure that it was delivered in an outstanding fashion. Thanks also go out to the Saudi Sports For All Federation who supported us in delivering this event, and also to Nova who kept us all hydrated throughout.

The backbone of the event was the organising team from Race Arabia and the Kingdom Centre and the truly outstanding team of volunteers. I can attest that these teams work from a place of passion to make sure that everyone has an incredible experience. I cannot be more proud of this team, and from all of them, we hope to see you taking on the challenge next year!

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