SIBU (March 18): Japanese tower runner Takaaki Koyama topped the race and bagged the Men’s Elite title for the Sibu Tower Run held at the 28-storey Wisma Sanyan today.
The 32-year-old, who is ranked World No.8, had a time of 2 minutes 59 seconds after conquering all the 627 steps of Sibu’s tallest building.
It was just three seconds short of the record created by Malaysia’s World No.1 tower runner, Soh Wai Ching, who finished the race with a time of 2 minutes 56 seconds in the last edition of the tower run in 2020. Soh did not compete this time, but was present to motivate and support the runners.
Looking fresh and energetic even after the run, Takaaki said it was a good run and a happy ending for him.
“Rest assured that I will return for the next run and hopefully break Wai Ching’s record,” he said when interviewed after the run.
He said he had been into tower running for the past eight years and had won numerous accolades and titles in tower runs from Paris to Dubai. His most prestigious collection is the title of 2019 World Championship Shanghai Tower Run, which has over 3,000 steps.
Next in the offing for Takaaki is the May 20 tower run in Nagoya, Japan, where he is also eyeing the top placement.
The Tokyo native said he had put in consistent training before coming for the Sibu Tower Run.
“When Wai Ching told me about the Sibu Tower Run in December last year, I told him to count me in and today I also brought two of my friends, who are also tower runners, to take part in this competition,” he said.
Meanwhile, for the Women’s Elite category, two times was the charm for Singaporean Serene Cheong who bagged the title with a time of 4 minutes – which is also her personal best.
She said the last time she took part in the Sibu Tower Run, she only emerged second best with a far from satisfactory result.
“For sure, I will return for the run again next year and I must say, the run is systematic and very well-organised. Everything is in good hands and fully arranged for the runners – that is the best part,” she said.
The 40-year-old laboratory assistant said shuttling her time between career and training was tough but she persisted and persevered.
A slow starter, Cheong said she actually took interest in tower running in 2017 through a friend’s recommendation. Since then, she has participated in over 30 tower run competitions around the world and holds various awards and titles.
Her best moment is the 108-storey, 1,330 steps KL Tower International Towerthon Challenge in 2022 when she emerged victorious, beating several top runners from around the world.
“All the hard work and an adequate amount of training hours are necessary to make a champion. There is no overnight success and sometimes, you still need a little luck to succeed,” she said.
A total of 252 tower runners took part in the tournament jointly organised by the Sibu Municipal Council social and community development committee and Sibu Underground Runners. The event is sanctioned by the International Tower Running Association. Foreign participants included five from Singapore, three from Japan, two from Taipei and one each from Brunei, Hong Kong and Pakistan.
Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government II Michael Tiang gave away the prizes.