A German runner has won an annual race up 86 flights of stairs at the Empire State Building for a record seventh straight time. Stuttgart resident Thomas Dold completed the Empire State Building Run-Up in 10 minutes and 28 seconds.

"Well, the good thing is that I've done better than all the others," said the 27-year-old Dold, who completed his last three run-ups in 10 minutes and 10 seconds or less.

He said he didn't know why the finish was "so exhausting" this year because he's "really fit" and compares training techniques with other runners.

Two other men have won the race five times since it began in 1978: American Al Waquie from 1983-87 and Australian Paul Crake from 1999-2003. Crake remains the record holder with a time of 9 minutes and 33 seconds but has not competed since suffering a devastating bicycle accident in 2006.

Athletes from around the world took part in the gruelling-even-for-the-elite-athletes trek from the lobby to the observation deck, floor by floor, up 1,576 steps.

About 650 people registered for this year's race, said Drea Braxmeier, a spokeswoman for the New York Road Runners (NYRR), which hosted the race. NYRR also puts on the annual New York City Marathon.

In a switch from previous years, the race was held at night instead of in the morning. "You get to finish under the lights of the Empire State Building," she said.

In another first this year, Braxmeier said, the general public was allowed to start at 10-second intervals.
The Empire State Building race is among the more high-profile tower climbs in the world. It's "an entire world unto itself," Braxmeier said of the climbs.

The number of steps to climb to the top of the Empire State building

9.33 min
The fastest time record to the top of the building held by Australian Paul Crake