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'I am old but gold': 78-year-old Italian targets another record at Dubai Holding SkyRun 2022


In 2019, Giovanni Potenza completed the race three times in a row - with an average time of 13 minutes to make the trek up 1334 steps

This weekend, 78-year-old ‘sky runner’ Giovanni Potenza will attempt to set a new record when he climbs the 52 floors of Jumeirah Emirates Towers, as part of the Dubai Holding SkyRun- the only official stairclimbing race in the city. The 17th edition of the Dubai Holding SkyRun will take place on November 12, and proceeds from it will be donated to Al Jalila Foundation’s Majlis Al Amal, the UAE’s first cancer drop-in centre. In 2019, the Italian completed the race three times in a row - with an average time of 13 minutes to make the trek up 1334 steps. The back-to-back runs set a new record for him and this year he hopes to better it and set a new personal record. He praised the fabulous environment and outstanding audience for helping him achieve goals “In Dubai, I feel a special passion like nowhere else,” Potenza said. “Dubai will always live in my heart.” Despite having competed across the world, Potenza said his 2019 participation in the Dubai Holding SkyRun was his favorite. Established sky runner Potenza has been a sensation in the skyrunning community. In 2019 in Milan, he scaled 50 floors in 10 minutes, before heading to New York to climb 100 floors in 22 minutes and finishing off an event in UK where he climbed 105 floors in 23 minutes. He also competed at the Canton of Ticino in Airolo, Switzerland in October 2021. Although the race was not in a skyscraper, he notched up 4261 steps in the outdoor race - equivalent to 200 floors in 57 minutes and shaved off three minutes of his time in the same event in 2022. Participants of the SkyRun will compete in categories- Elite, Open and Teams with the top performers standing to win cash prizes. In 2019, the run witnessed record participation of over 500 people. A new course record was set by Piotr Lodzinski at 6 minutes and 55 seconds while the fastest female runner, Suzanne Walsham, finished in 8.03 minutes. Strict regime Potenza follows a strict diet and training routine to maintain his shape as a skyrunner. “I train every day for about two hours, both in town on asphalt as well as along the beach or up to the mountains in the snow where there is less oxygen,” he said. "I always wear 1kg ankle weights and a backpack.” According to him, mind and willpower are extremely important to improve performance while healthy diet and good rest increases power. However, he said there is one thing you cannot teach. “Passion is the secret if you want to challenge yourself to always reach better results,” he said. “There is no particular technique for climbing stairs, only a lot of determination, athletic preparation, passion, and willpower and a powerful mind.” Despite his age, the Italian shows no sign of slowing down and brushes off any thoughts of retirement. “My biggest career achievement would be joining as many races as possible I can despite my 78 years of age,” he said. “I am old but gold.”