17 May 2022

Meet the Kilkenny couple who became a global elite skyscraper runner and Dragon Boat champ

Running high: Former Miss Kilkenny is a world skyscraper runner

Meet the Kilkenny couple who took up two unusual hobbies when they moved to Dubai and became world champions.

Adrian and Gretta Costigan (Beckett) changed their lives when they moved to Dubai seven years ago. Former nurse and Miss Kilkenny Gretta randomly took up a sport that involves running up the stairs of skyscrapers all over the world

Originally from Freshford, Gretta started skyscraper stair running in 2017, today she is an global elite tower runner. On the vertical world circuit Gretta won top spot in Bahrain in 2018 and made the podium nine other time.

She has raced in London’s Laden Tower, the Kuala Lumpur Tower, New York's Empire Estate Building and buildings in the Philippines, Japan and Paris. The tallest building she has raced up was 123 floors in South Korea’s Lotte World Tower. It took her 25 minutes and the winner did it in 18 minutes. Gretta hopes to take on the Empire Estate Building again on October 26, if not it will be the Eiffel Tower in March.

The Kilkenny People caught up with the energetic couple on their recent trip home to Ireland. They continued their training every day while at home and showcased Kilkenny to the rest of the world on their social media channels while cycling around Kilkenny, Carlow and Waterford.

"We brought our bikes home with us and we travelled every corner of the county and its surrounds," says Gretta.

"From Jerpoint, Dunbell, Tullaherin, Inistoge, the Romanesque church in Freshford to the Viaduct in Borris and the Waterford Greenway. We missed home so much and cycling was the best way to take it all in.

Former Kilkenny rugby player and Ballyfoyle born, Adrian also had his sights on an unusual hobby when he started dragon boat racing in 2014 in Dubai.

“I was out of team sport for many years and really missed the comradery. Once I tried dragon boat racing I was completely hooked, everyone helps each other inside and outside of the boat. Our team is small but we have grown to world champions. It's normally 5am starts on the water most mornings but you are hanging out with your friends, so it never feels like training," he said.

Adrian and his team are working towards the world championships next June in Miami so training is full time around his fulltime job. When at home in Ireland he takes to the water with his mother Bernadette Costigan and her team mates the Nore Dragon Paddlers.

"They are so fit, the last time I was on the water with them I was doing my best to keep up with them for the 10 kilometres on the river," says Adrian.

In the meantime he will take part in the European Championships in Dubai this November. Only one local team will compete and that’s Adrian’s team so training is around the clock at the moment.

During lockdown Adrian took up Gretta’s sport to stay fit and ran up and down the stairs in their building and worked out in his basement with weights from the boot of his car. Since he has competed in a few stair races but prefers to watch his wife fly by from the side-lines.

Best of luck to this Kilkenny couple on the world circuit, we’ll be following their every step!

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