Sunday 14 March saw the much anticipated return of stair climbing in not just Australia, but anywhere in the world since the start of the pandemic! Whilst there weren’t any international competitors this time, we still had the best in the world competing in the form of SCA members Mark Bourne and Suzy Walsham.
The race itself had a slightly different format to other events, although normal for the Q1, the elite race was held at 9:00am with the individual categories starting at 07:00am (it’s generally normal to have the elite race first).
This meant the initial result hung in the balance while we waited to see the outcome of the elite race.
In the women’s race we saw the debut of 10 times world champion and SCA member Suzy Walsham take on the Q1 for the first time and we saw the first female to go under 8 minutes in the history of the event with an outstanding time of 7:52!, beating the previous record of 8:17 set by our former president Alice McNamara in 2015. Second place went to Mikaela Bentley with a time of 9:50 and third place was Heather Sills in 11:18. The next highest SCA member was Amber Thompson, also going sub 12 minutes to finish 8th in 11:58.
In the men’s race SCA vice president Ed Manktelow set the early pace at 8:58. However, we knew this wouldn’t hold and we were soon proved right when SCA member, and current Q1 record holder Mark Bourne came home in an impressive 6:59 to take the win, and new-comer and first time stair climber Boaz Clark finished in a solid 8:11. A superb effort for a first attempt and a great introduction to the intensity of a stairwell for the Brisbane based mountain runner – “I ran out of air at level 60”! (we know how you feel…)
And so it seemed the top 3 places were confirmed until late in the day, when all the different categories had had their turn, a late individual runner named Dion Knight surprised us all as he clocked an incredible time of just 7:32 to become only the third male runner in the history of the Q1 to go under 8 minutes. He’s keeping good company too as the other two sub 8 runners are Mark Bourne and Paul Crake. Mark is the only runner in the current race format to go sub 8 (or indeed sub 7!) and the legendary Paul Crake did the first ever Q1 race in 2005 and clocked 7:43, although this included a run around the block before entering the building and the race was held as a one-off.
Also present at the event was Ember the fire rescue dog, who was taken up by our President Maria Piemontese (or was Maria taken up by Ember?!) and they finished in 24:16.
Also making her stair climbing debut, at the tender age of just 8 years old was Bronwyn Manktelow, and the pint-sized powerhouse managed to complete the whole challenge unassisted in 23:54!
Endurance specialist John Du Boulay completed 8 climbs on the day. He normally does more but was limited this year due to COVID restrictions. 16 next year John?
Some other results of the day were as follows:
Fastest female emergency services – Storm Gower in 13:29
Fastest male emergency services -Dan King in 10:15
Schools challenge girls – Charli Guy in 11:43
Schools challenge boys – Oliver Malecek in 13:33
And so that concluded the day, and what a day it was. It was so great for us all to be together, partners in climb, climbing again in this lucky country we call Australia. We really were the envy of the stair climbing world today and all who attended did us proud!
Text: SCA Vice President Ed Manktelow