INDIANAPOLIS—It would stand to reason that one of the oldest stair climbs in the country would host one of the longest winning streaks in the sport.
This was the case heading into the 33rd annual Bop The Top on Jan. 16, where US female towerrunning Hall Of Famer, and current No. 3-ranked US female towerrunner, Cindy Harris has been winning her hometown climb for more than two decades.
Harris, 47, had taken first place among all females at Bop’s Single Climb event every year since 1995. However, this year, second-year towerrunning powerhouse Liz Ruvalcaba, 31, of St. Charles, Ill., edged Harris by six seconds to take home first place among all women in the Single Climb.
Ruvalcaba, who was 10 years old when Harris’ streak began, made her way to the top of the 36-story, 780-step OneAmerica Tower in 4:37, besting Harris’ 4:43. Their times were on an island of their own, however, as the third place female finisher, 44-year-old Judy Porter of Westfield, Ind., crossed the finish line in 5:41.
Ruvalcaba, who ranks fifth among all US female towerrunners, and Harris have been trading first and second place finishes at various races over the course of the past year, including last year’s Bop To The Top, where Harris (4:44) cruised to victory over Ruvalcaba (4:56).
While Harris’ Single Climb streak may have come to an end, she did claim her fourth consecutive victory in the climb’s Triple Step event, which she entered in addition to the Single Climb. In the Triple Step, she reached the top in a total time of 15:11 (5:01, 5:05, and 5:05). Ruvalcaba did not climb in the Triple Step.
With a cumulative time of 18:47 (6:11, 6:17, and 6:18), eighth-ranked female US towerrunner Susan Glaser, 39, of Tampa, Fla., took home second among all women in the triple step, while ninth-ranked female US towerrunner Karen Geninatti, 58, of Carlinville, Ill., finished third in 19:26 (6:24, 6:25, and 6:37).
On the men’s side, it was dominance as usual for 32-year-old Eric Leninger, also of St. Charles, Ill., who took home his third straight victory in both the Single Climb and the Triple Step.
Leninger, currently third in Towerrunning USA’s male rankings, blazed his way to the top floor of the OneAmerica Tower in 3:58 to take home the top prize in the Single Climb, and finished in 12:03 in the Triple Step (3:55, 4:01, and 4:06). The Triple Step win was also Leninger’s fifth total in the last nine years.
In that same nine-year-span, only Leninger and Justin Stewart have won both Bop To The Top events in the same year on the men’s side. Leninger’s third consecutive “double win” surpassed Stewart’s back-to-back efforts in 2012 and 2013.
Finishing second among all men in the 2016 Single Climb was 29-year-old Caleb Wright of Indianapolis, who crossed the finish line in 4:05, while long-time local “Bopper” Martin Wilkey, 50, also of Indianapolis, took third with a time of 4:30.
In the men’s Triple Step, 19-year-old Matthew Sraders amassed a total time of 13:31 (4:24, 4:30, and 4:36) to take second, while current ninth-ranked male US towerrunner Josh Duncan, 38, of Carpentersville, Ill, finished third in a cumulative time of 14:44 (4:48, 4:57, and 4:59).
The 2016 Bop To The Top saw a total of 877 Single Climb participants, while an event-record 132 people climbed in the Triple Step.
As a rare stair climb where fundraising is encouraged, rather than required, Bop To The Top is considered one of the more competitive climber-friendly events in the country. Participants may enter both the Single Climb and Triple Step events for nothing more than a low registration fee.
The event is also generous in its awards, gifting “Bop”-branded mugs and glasses, depending on the year, to the top three team finishers in Open, Co-Ed, All-Female, Fire Fighters, Family, Collegiate Open, and Masters divisions, as well as top three age group finishers in both Single Climb and Triple Step, and also unique weight-based “Big Guy” (200 lbs), “Big Big Guy” (225 lbs), “Big Big Big Guy” (250lbs), and “Athena” (female-165 lbs) Single Climb categories.
In its three-plus decades of existence, Bop To The Top has raised over $500,000 for Indianapolis’ Riley Hospital For Children.
More information about Bop To The Top can be found at http://www.tuxbro.com/entry-info/Bop%20to%20the%20Top/BoptotheTopHome.php