Firefighters complete climb
Four Blenheim firefighters battled their way up Auckland's Sky Tower on Saturday to raise money for Leukemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
More than 700 firefighters participated in the event, decked out with an extra 25 kilograms of gear and using breathing apparatus.
It was the second Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge for Marlborough volunteer firefighters Ashley Toms and Kim Holmes. For Drew de Cartier-McCarthy and Tony Nolan it was their first attempt.
Toms reached the top of the tower quicker than the others, climbing 1103 stairs in 12 minutes 15 seconds. Holmes did it in 15min 51sec, de Cartier-McCarthy finished in 16min 29sec, and Nolan reached the top at 20min 56sec.
Toms was stoked he managed to shave almost three minutes off last year's time.
This year he was focused on getting to the top the fastest, he said.
"I double-stepped about 95 per cent of the way. I just managed to push myself."
He came 21st in the open category and 36th overall, he said.
The competition had the potential to be dangerous, with competitors overheating with the weight of the extra gear.
Holmes said despite not beating last year's time, she was just happy she made it to the top.
The climb was hard until she reached the 25th flight of stairs, she said.
"Once I got halfway, I could hear voices from the top and knew I was almost there," she said.
She was both relieved and exhausted when she reached the top, she said. "My lungs were burning, everything was burning the whole way up. I was knackered, absolutely shattered."
She was the eighth-fastest woman overall, she said.
The annual stair challenge started in 2005 with 88 firefighters raising just over $17,000.
As of yesterday, $866,381 had been raised this year, with 180 brigades from throughout the country taking part, as well as 13 firefighters from Australia and the United States.
Blenheim firefighters raised about $2800 for Leukemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
The overall winners were Josh Harrison from Otara in the men's category, in 8min 36sec, and fastest woman was Gabbie Ernst from Frankton, Central Otago, in 14min 29sec.