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Firefighters walk from Waitangi to Auckland's Sky Tower

Firefighters' long walk for charity

JAY BOREHAM
Last updated 10:21 15/05/2014
Maaka McKinney, Connor Doughty, Tom Foster and Jimmy Rattray

HARD SLOG: From left, Maaka McKinney, Connor Doughty, Tom Foster and Jimmy Rattray walking to raise awareness for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

 Jimmy Rattray, Lorry Kane and Conner Doughty
BREAK TIME: From left front, Jimmy Rattray, Lorry Kane and Conner Doughty put their feet up in Kaukapakapa.

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Their boots weren't made for walking.

They were made to withstand the blistering heat of uncontrolled fires.

But that hasn't stopped a group of firefighters embarking on a walk of 283.5km from Waitangi to Auckland's Sky Tower to raise awareness for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

They will then join 700 more fighters in the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge on Saturday.

A core group of six Birkenhead firefighters has been leading the way for the New Zealand Firefighters Charitable Trust fundraiser.

All have been walking in full firefighting gear, including their oxygen tanks, since they left Waitangi last Thursday.

They have been joined along the way by a number of colleagues from fire stations they pass.

Yesterday they were 172 kilometres in and began a 60km stretch from Wellsford to Helensville along State Highway 16.

Team captain Maaka McKinney, 42, says the crew passed through their mental barriers earlier in the walk. 

''Your head starts playing mind games, you get sleep deprivation and fall asleep while your walking.But yesterday's cold weather and rain took its toll and the team were ''shattered'', he says.

A group of seven left Wellsford but only four were left on the road with 12km to go at Kaukapakapa this afternoon.

The rest were taking a break in support vehicles.

Birkenhead firefighter Lorry Kane, 52, says he was just taking a break for a minute.

"Well more than a minute, but my feet are dropping off.''

The 52-year-old has a blister under his toenail which is forcing off the nail off.

Tom Foster, 52, is the oldest in the group by a few months but was still going strong, even though he has the worst blisters.

Despite sore muscles and intense blisters and the worst day so far, he says it is all down hill from here.

It took the group nearly three hours to walk the last 12 kilometres from Kaukapakapa to Helensville.

Today they walk a half marathon to Kumeu followed by a second 21km to Birkenhead tomorrow, before the last 10km over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the Sky Tower on Saturday.

McKinney says the stair climb will be the easiest part of their journey.

''That just takes 10 minutes.'' 

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