Speedy German wins fifth straight Empire State Building race

German runner Thomas Dold on Tuesday bolted up 86 flights of stairs to win a race up New York's landmark Empire State Building in just over 10 minutes.

Speedy German wins fifth straight Empire State Building race
Photo: DPA

It was a fifth straight win in the oddball Empire State Building Run-Up for the Stuttgart native, 25, who clocked a 10-minute, 16-second time in scaling the skyscraper’s 1,576 steps. Last year the speedy German won with a time of 10 minutes and seven seconds.

In the women’s competition, New Zealander Melissa Moon, 40, was first up the Art Deco tower famously climbed by King Kong on the silver screen.

This year, more than 200 people competed including two 18-year-olds and a 70-something American woman who made it to the top in 22 minutes 35 seconds.

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Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden

The German government on Friday welcomed a decision by President Joe Biden to put on hold plans to reduce US troops in Germany, saying their presence was in the countries' mutual interest.

Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden
An American soldier stationed in Germany, in front of Dresden's Military History Museum in 2016. Photo: DPA

“We have always been convinced that American troops being stationed here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security and hence is in our mutual interest,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

As part of a major foreign and security policy overhaul presented Thursday, Biden announced a freeze on plans set in motion by his predecessor Donald Trump to reduce the US troop presence in Germany, a cornerstone of NATO security since the start of the Cold War.

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US president mean for Germany?

Trump's decision was seen as linked to his tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his frequent complaints that Europe's top economy spent too little on defence.

The United States has had US troops stationed in Germany since World War II but their numbers have declined since the fall of the Berlin Wall from some 200,000 soldiers in 1990 to 34,500 today.

Although the prospect had been looming for years, Trump's decision in July to redeploy 12,000 soldiers from Germany still came as a shock, particularly to towns that have built strong economic and cultural ties to the US military.

READ ALSO: Trump to withdraw 'thousands of US soldiers from Germany' under Biden

“We strongly value the close, decades-long cooperation with the American troops stationed in Germany,” Seibert said.

He said the communities hosting GIs appreciated their presence, calling the bases “part of the lived transatlantic friendship”.  

Seibert said German officials were in “consultations” with the US administration about “further planning” but that the decision how to shape the future American military footprint in Europe was a “US domestic issue”.