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Stairways to Heaven 2023

Are you ready for the toughest vertical race in Europe?

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen
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Running uphill is tough even for experienced runners. So how does running up 4,261 steps with a 90 percent gradient sound to you? No wonder, Stairways to Heaven is considered to be the toughest vertical race in Europe. It's a real challenge that requires more endurance and stamina than your average race.

Stairways to Heaven is a 0.7-mi (1.2-km) long race with 2,591 ft (790 m) of elevation. The race starts on the stairs of the Piotta-Ritom funicular in the Alpine village of Piotta. The stairway, known as one of the steepest in Europe, follows funicular rails all the way up to the Piora mountain station. Water is available for runners only at the top.

Only 100 bibs are available for the public to participate in the race, so it's important to register early. Registration for the race, which takes place every May, usually starts in late January. The public can observe the race from the road in Piotta or from Piora mountain station.

The race takes place in 1.9 mi (3 km) from the beautiful town of Quinto in the Italian-speaking Ticino canton. Piotta village is located in the picturesque Leventina Valley, below the Lepontine Alps. It can be reached via Ambrì-Piotta railway station on the Gotthard railway.

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