Gruelling challenge awaits

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BOOTS AND ALL: Taking part in the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge will be Ashburton firefighters Nick Rattray (left) and Geoffrey Barr.
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Issued with a challenge, Ashburton firefighters Geoffrey Barr and Nick Rattray willingly accepted.

On May 18 they and six other Mid Canterbury firefighters will join with others from around New Zealand and overseas to participate in the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge.

The Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) fundraiser will involve climbing the Sky Tower in Auckland in the quickest time possible while fully kitted up in firefighting gear.

The challenge is now in its 20th year.

Barr has been a firefighter for 10 years, and this will be his first time entering.

‘‘I’ve been wanting to do the challenge for a while,’’ he said.

He is jumping in boots and all, participating in the gruelling Man of Steel section. This involves climbing 1300 stairs, up 60 flights of stairs, while wearing a fire breathing apparatus set (BA) weighing 30kg and in uniform.

‘‘I aim to complete the climb in 30 minutes,’’ Barr said.

Barr has been training three hours a week on the stair climb at EA Networks in preparation for the climb. He has already surpassed his fundraising goal of $750.

His total was $3191 early this week. Rattray, who has been a firefighter for three years, said this would be his third climb.

He said it was a fun event, and he remembers the great views from the top of the tower.

Rattray is in the main section, which will involve 1103 steps, up 51 flights of stairs, while wearing a 25kg BA and uniform.

‘‘I am aiming to do it in under 15 minutes,’’ Rattray said.

‘‘My training has really only involved biking up Mt Hutt,’’ Rattray said.

His fundraising total early this week was $560. Climbers begin in the Sky Tower basement and set off at one minute intervals.

Those who raise over $1500 are automatically offered a spot in the following years climb.

In its 20 year history, the climbs have raised $14.6 million.

There is a cost for those taking part not only fundraising and the physical and mental cost but they also pay their own airfares and accommodation.

– Support the Firefighters Skytower Challenge at firefighterschallenge.org.nz