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Chrissie Wellington To Run Up the Empire State Building Tonight

She’s conquered the lava fields of Kona and now Chrissie Wellington will tackle one of one of the most iconic buildings in the world.

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Photo: Kevin LaClaire

She’s conquered the lava fields of Kona and now Chrissie Wellington will tackle one of one of the most iconic buildings in the world: the Empire State Building. According the New York Road Runners (NYRR), the four-time Ironman World Champion will join the field of 650 at tonight’s Empire State Building Run-Up, a dizzying 86-story climb to the skyscraper’s Observatory.

Although Wellington is taking a break from Ironman competitions, she hinted at a luncheon promoting her soon-to-be-released memoir A Life Without Limits yesterday that she still plans on racing other forms of endurance events. But even Wellington herself didn’t know she’d kick off her 2012 season so soon, until John Korff, race director of the Nautica New York City Triathlon and the 2012 U.S. Ironman Championships, suggested she give the Run-Up a whirl.

“Why take the elevator when you can run?,” said Wellington. “I couldn’t be in New York City and not seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take the stairs to the top of the Empire State Building and soak up the amazing bird’s eye view, with a healthy dose of masochism thrown in!”

PHOTOS: Chrissie Wellington’s Inside Triathlon Photo Shoot

Korff, himself a ten-time Run-Up finisher and age-group record holder in the event, says the key to conquering this unique event are strong quads and the ability to run into oxygen debt—two components Wellington certainly does not lack. “It’s all about how much you’re willing to sustain, how hard you can run when you can’t breathe,” said Korff. “It’s hard to say how Chrissie will do, she may just have some fun with it. But I imagine if she turns on those competitive juices, she can win.”

But she’ll face some tough competition:  The elite field will be headlined by four-time champ Cindy Harris and three-time winner Suzy Walsham, a former 800- and 1500-meter specialist on the track. The women’s record, set in 2006 by Andrea Mayr, is 11:23.