Turkey's flagship airline rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange alongside Empire State Realty Trust as a result of its sponsorship of the Empire State Building Run-Up tower race.

Cenk Ocal, General Manager of the Turkish Airlines, New York (front 3rd R) poses for a family photo with his team mates after Turkish Airlines rang the opening bell of New York Stock Exchange to highlight the 41st Empire State Building Run-Up, which is one of the most important symbolic buildings of the world, in New York, United States on January 30, 2018.
Cenk Ocal, General Manager of the Turkish Airlines, New York (front 3rd R) poses for a family photo with his team mates after Turkish Airlines rang the opening bell of New York Stock Exchange to highlight the 41st Empire State Building Run-Up, which is one of the most important symbolic buildings of the world, in New York, United States on January 30, 2018. (AA)

Turkey's flagship airline rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange alongside Empire State Realty Trust in part to promote its sponsorship of the world's first and most famous tower race.

The 41st Annual Empire State Building Run-Up, presented by Turkish Airlines, will be held on February 7 in the stairway of the world-famous building in the heart of New York City.

"I am happy to announce our new partnership with Turkish Airlines, our presenting (title) sponsor this year. They maintain their offices in the Empire State Building on the 75th floor," said John Kessler, President and Chief Operating Officer of Empire State Realty Trust.

"On behalf of Turkish Airlines, we are honoured to be a part of this exciting milestone," Turkish Airlines New York General Manager Cenk Ocal said in his address before ringing the bell on Tuesday.

It was not immediately reported how much Turkish Airlines' sponsorship of the event was worth.

The race is "bringing together participants from all around the globe, bridged by a common passion for sporting accomplishment," he said, adding the event would celebrate unity, competitive spirit and bring communities together.

Ocal said the race is also raising awareness for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organisation devoted to providing access and tools, paving the way for the physically challenged to lead active and healthy lifestyles.

About 250 runners to race

The Challenged Athletes Foundation, which is the official charity partner of the Empire State Building Run-Up, will have a heat in the event, said Kessler.

"This year, we have about 250 runners, and they come from all over the world, including as far away as Australia," he said.

Other heats will include members of the New York police and fire departments, media and celebrities, and special heats for Turkish Airlines staff and professional athletes, Kessler said.

Runner records

Runners will climb 1,576 stairs, or 320 metres (1,050 vertical feet), to the 86th floor of the fifth tallest building in the US.

It takes less than a minute for visitors to reach the 86th floor by elevator, but professional runners climb the stairs in approximately 10 minutes.

Australian athlete Paul Crake set the record in the men's category at 9 minutes and 33 seconds in 2003, while it took Andrea Mayr of Austria just 11 minutes and 23 seconds to set the women’s mark in 2006. 

Suzy Walsham of Singapore earned her fifth straight and record-breaking eighth overall victory in the 2017 Empire State Building Run-Up women’s invitational heat with a time of 12 minutes and 11 seconds.

Turkish Airlines continues to raise its profile in the American market by sponsoring high-profile events including the Hollywood blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, and the company ran television commercials during the annual National Football League championship game, the Super Bowl, in the past two years.

Turkey's flagship airline has a fleet of 329 passenger and cargo aircraft and flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, including nine different destinations in the US and three daily flights to New York City from Istanbul.

Source: AA