February 8, 2006

Race to top of Empire State Building

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Reaching the 86th floor of the Empire
State Building, Thomas Dold let out a roar worthy of King Kong
on Tuesday after climbing 1,576 steps and breaking the tape to
win the race up New York's tallest building.

The German claimed his first major tower-race victory,
while Andrea Mayr of Austria won her third Empire State
Building Run-Up title in a row in record time.

"When you finish first, it's a feeling like you're above
the top of the world," said 26-year-old Mayr, who completed the
2-mile race in 11 minutes 23 seconds to slice 28 seconds off
the course record she set last year. "It's like flying."

Dold, 21, roared in delight as he broke the tape in 10
minutes 19 seconds and erased the bitter disappointment of his
near-miss last year.

Last year, Dold lunged in vain at the finish, falling to
the pavement of the famous Observation deck on the 86th floor
as he lost to Austrian Rudolf Reitberger in the closest Empire
race ever.

"The Empire State Building is one of the greatest events
one can take part in for a tower runner," said a beaming Dold
after winning the 29th annual race. "I can't describe it."

Taking a decisive 17-second victory over Reitberger that
ended the Austrian's two-year reign as champion, ended some
frustration for Dold, who had lost three of the six tower races
he has run around the world by a step.

Taiwan and Kuala Lumpur sponsor two of the biggest tower
runs besides the Empire State.

Dold said training back home for the race was difficult.
"German skyscrapers are not as tall as in New York," he said.

Women's winner Mayr seemed equally elated for runner-up
Nada Pauer, a good friend and compatriot, who finished a
massive 1:24 behind.

Mayr even coached her 19-year-old friend during the race.

"She's my trainer. She was giving me instructions," said
Pauer, who took second place by two seconds over American
four-time winner Cindy Harris.

Missing from the race was the usual last-place finisher,
Chico Scimone of Sicily, who died in April at age 93. It would
have been his 16th appearance.

A friend of his from Sicily, Salvatore Ferrara, ran in his
honor and presented building management with a medal on behalf
of Chico. "Chico told me to say hello to everybody," said
Ferrara, 57. "He sends a kiss for everybody."