skylie

Record-holders ‘Sky-rise’ back to the top at competitive Willis climb

 

CHICAGO—Amid the kind of stacked field that only the Willis (Sears) Tower seems to draw, two of 

SkyRise Chicago’s most successful veterans made their returns to the top at the Nov. 8 race.

 

Sproule Love and Cindy Harris, the respective male and female record-holders for fastest Willis Tower  

climbs, each took home the respective male and female top prizes for the first time in four years.

 

In his first race at the building since then, Love clocked a 13:41, edging out Rudolf Reitberger of Austria,  

who made his way to the top of the 103-story, 2,115-step climb in 13:47. Germany’s Gorge Heimann 

rounded out the men’s podium with a time of 13:49. Heimann was also the only other finisher to 

complete the climb in less than 14 minutes.

 

As for the women, Harris rebounded from a three-year string of second-place SkyRise finishes, notching 

a 16:01, which was more than a minute ahead of her nearest competition, Stephanie Hucko. Hucko, 

considered to be a favorite by some prior to the race, reached the SkyDeck in 17:18. Hucko was on an 

island in second place, as, like Harris, she finished more than a minute ahead of the next fastest female 

finisher, Veronica Stocker, who clocked in at 18:29.

 

Love and Harris each last took home first place in 2011, the same year each set the record for fastest 

climbs in building history. Love blazed to the top in 13:03 that year, while Harris ripped a 14:57. Kristin 

Frey went on to match Harris in the record books with a 14:57 of her own in 2012.

 

Love is currently ranked first among all male tower runners in the US, according to the Towerrunning 

USA (formerly Stairsport) rankings, while Harris ranks third among all women in the country.

 

While the competition is always tough at SkyRise Chicago, the 2015 iteration of the race included a first-

ever invitational elite wave assembled by the Towerrunning World Association (TWA) in conjunction 

with Towerrunning USA.

 

Towerrunning USA President Alex Workman, who finished in 14:19, good for sixth overall, was tasked 

with organizing the 40-person elite wave. Invitations were sent mainly to competitive tower runners, as 

determined by Towerrunning USA’s rankings. A limited amount of invitational slots were also open to 

high level athletes from other disciplines, as well as historically successful tower runners not currently 

ranked near the top.

 

Per a TWA agreement with the World Federation of Great Towers, of which Willis Tower is a member, 

registration and fundraising requirements were waived for all climbers in the TWA’s invitational elite 

wave.

 

The top ten SkyRise Chicago 2015 performances were filled out on the men’s side by Tim Donahue 

(14:01), Sylvio Atmanspacher (14:14), Tim Young (14:21), Zack Kessell (14:26), Adam Cellemme (15:11), 

Ralf Hascher (15:12), and Jason Larson (15:12).

 

For the women, it was Sherri Breese (19:03), Marla McGinnis (19:04), Christine Soskins (19:11), Hannah 

Hoffman (19:15), Amy Neal (19:23), Carol Sullivan (19:26), and Natalie Doolittle-Shade (19:27).

While the performances of the top finishers, including those in the TWA elite wave, didn’t disappoint, 

the competition could have been even more formidable, as four competitors each likely to be in the 

hunt for podium spots were late scratches from that TWA wave.

 

Chicago area climbers Eric Leninger, Liz Ruvalcaba, and Dan Walters each withdrew for various personal 

reasons, while Australian Darren Wilson had flight issues that prevented him from making it in time. 

Leninger, currently ranked third in the US, took second place among all men at SkyRise Chicago 2014 

with a time of 14:03. Ruvalcaba, the sixth-ranked female in the US, took third among all women last year 

by posting a 17:29, which also came in her competitive stair climbing debut. The 14th-ranked Walters 

has yet to compete in SkyRise Chicago, but in the past year has second place finishes at Hustle Up The 

Hancock and Chicago’s two Fight For Air Climbs (Oakbrook Terrace and Presidential Towers) to his 

credit, as well as third place finish at Chicago’s Aon Step Up For Kids.

 

As for Wilson, there was speculation he may have broken Love’s building record and gone sub-13. He’s 

currently ranked fourth in the world, according to the TWA’s World Cup rankings, and he finished third 

at the 2015 Empire State Building Run-Up, 20 seconds faster than, and one place ahead of Love.

 

SkyRise Chicago drew a total of 2,511 participants of all ages from all over the world, and raised more  

than $660,000 for the Rehabilitation Institute Of Chicago (RIC). RIC, founded in 1954, has been ranked 

by US News & World Report as the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital In America” every year since 1991. RIC’s 

programs focus on repair, regeneration, and recovery of brain, spinal cord, and musculoskeletal 

function.

 

For more information about RIC and SkyRise Chicago, visit the race website (http://skyrisechicago.org). 

For full results from this year’s race, check out the The Racer’s Hub 

 

(http://theracershub.com/results_view.php?id=2722&result_type=db).