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Three Verticales on the trot for Walsham and Lobodzinsky
Piotr Lobodzinsky and Suzy Walsham continued their love affair with the Eiffel Tower on Thursday night by claiming the men's and women's La Verticale trophies for the third consecutive year.
Lobodzinsky, 31, finished his ascent of 1,665 steps up 270 metres of the tower in 7 minutes 54.76 seconds. It was seven seconds slower than his time when claiming the 2016 race.
But he was nearly 10 seconds ahead of Germany's Christian Riedl, who came second for the second consecutive year.
Thomas Celko from Slovakia was third in 8 minutes 15.18 seconds.
While Lobodzinsky lost time, Walsham shaved 14 seconds off her 2016 record. The 43-year-old Australian romped home in 9 minutes 34.75 seconds.
"It's an amazing achievement," she remarked as she clutched the bouquet of flowers presented to the top three runners. "It's an amazing race and I'm very proud of what I have done."
Dominika Stelmach finished second. The Pole was more than 52 seconds adrift of Walsham's mark and nearly 90 seconds ahead of third placed Zuzana Krchova.
"It's a really tough tower," added Walsham. "Just six weeks ago I raced in the Empire State Building in New York for the 10th time. That's taller but this is harder.
"Over the first two levels here, the stairs are uneven because it's on a diagonal. You might have 10 stairs, then seven stairs and then 18 stairs whereas a building race is very uniform. You can get into a rhythm and you are just turning round.
"Here in the Eiffel Tower, the last half in the middle of the tower, you can have up to 40 stairs in a row before you are turning a corner and that is brutal. You don't get that in a building."
Both the king and queen of La Verticale vowed to return in 2018 to defend their crowns. "Winning is like a drug," said Lobodzinsky. "I've been doing this for six years and I've already been to 26 countries. I like winning and travelling and I'm one of the best in the world so that's why I have the motivation to train harder to win as many races as possible."