Riverton firefighters training for Sky Tower challenge get stairs at the gym
Watching firefighters in full gear pounding away on a Stairmaster in a gym is not your usual every day sight.
But at one gym in Invercargill, Riverton Volunteer firefighters Darren Stenning and Logan Kennedy have become a familiar talking point as they prepare for this year's Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge in Auckalnd.
Stenning and Kennedy are part of a squad of five firefighters from the Riverton Volunteer Brigade who are taking part in the challenge on May 13 to raise money for Leukemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
Stenning said the Stairmaster had given them an edge in their training and he and Kennedy were already ahead of where they were at last year.
It was through one of the members at the gym, who they knew, that they found out about the stair machine, Stenning said.
They knew they were on to the right thing when the saw a video on Facebook of a brigade in the North Island doing the same thing, he said.
The pair train three times a week in their firefighting suits and two days a week they will train with the breathing apparatus on.
"We're well ahead of training compared to last year."
The pair were aiming to climb the 51 flights of stairs in about 13 minutes, Stenning said.
It was difficult to train in Southland because there was a lack of tall buildings, he said.
The others in the squad, Elizabeth Simonka, Jeremy Raines, Bradley Jenkins had been training around Riverton and at the Kelvin Hotel, which had generously opened their doors to the firefighters, Stenning said.
Using the stairmaster gave the a more realistic experience as they could just climb stairs and not have to climb on staircase several times, he said.
For Stenning, competing this year was about trying to get the time he should have got last year.
Competing in the 2016 challenge, Stenning suffered an injury before the event which sent his training out the window.
"The training is mad but once you've competed and experienced that emotion you're hooked."
It was the feeling you get when you completed the run that mades it all worth while, Stenning said.
"Months of training for 15 minutes of climbing."
While the training was no breeze, the real hard work was in the fundraising.
During the seven years that the brigade has taken part in the challenge it has raised more than $35,000 for charity.