But those seven years of punishing tower races may just be taking their toll – the 27-year-old’s winning time, 10 minutes and 27 seconds, was his slowest yet.
According to a New York Times report, Dold has learned a few crafty tricks over the years. Moments before the start of the race was signalled by an air horn, Dold – in his accustomed pole position – held his arms out to prevent the runners around him getting a clean start, and catapulted himself forward in one powerful Teutonic lunge.
The race itself is brutal. “We forget about the respect,” Tim Van Orden, a 43-year-old from Vermont, told the New York Times. “You can see people getting trampled, their faces smashed into the floor. It’s like trying to run out of a nightclub that’s on fire.”
Another thing that Dold has honed over the years is his taste for the theatrical – after completing the race with raised fists, Dold likes to collapse into the arms of an event official before giving his media interviews.
“He’s very dramatic,” the staffer told the paper. “He does this every year.”
The race covers 1,576 steps, which top racers take two at a time. On top of the lung-busting exertion, the racers have to contend with the lack of oxygen in the tight, crowded staircases of New York’s most famous building.
“I felt like my throat constricted early on, about Floor 6 or 7,” said four-time triathlon world champion Chrissie Wellington.
Dold is the leading light of a sport that organizes between 150 and 200 events every year, despite the lack of an organizing body. He has 40 first places to his name, plus a Guinness World Record for running backwards – one kilometre in 3 minutes and 20 seconds.
The man from Baden-Württemberg, where he performs his basic training, practices regularly in the Main Tower building in Frankfurt. In his day-job, Dold is marketing manager for a healthcare centre.
“If you have a thought, if you have a dream, you can make it a reality,” he told the NYT. “You just have to make your goal and your strategy, and follow them. You don’t have to learn that. It’s logical.”