RACING up 28 flights of stairs is hard enough at the best of times, much less with 30 kilograms of weight strapped to your back.
That is exactly what Camperdown CFA firefighters Kane Veenstra, Jack McKenzie, Steven Russell and Ben Blackley are about to attempt.
The foursome has entered the second annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb which raises much needed funds for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
Mr McKenzie said the group has been training for the event since mid May.
“We heard about the inaugural event last year and thought it was a great idea and something we could be a part of,” he said.
“So, as soon as they called for entries for this year’s event, we signed up.
“It was a pretty easy decision to make, the Peter MacCallum centre deserves all the support we can give it.”
The stair climb will see each of the foursome don breathing apparatus equipment weighing about 25 kilograms, in addition to their five kilograms of protective clothing, and race up 459 steps.
Set for the Crown Metropol Hotel on Saturday, September 5 the race will see 343 firefighters take part, a tribute to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 Twin Towers attack.
Firefighter Charity Fund chairman Mark Carter said participants are required to wear the breathing apparatus to simulate their actions in a real-life high rise building fire.
“It will be a gruelling challenge of fitness and strength.”
Mr McKenzie said the group met every Thursday night to train and trained individually through the week.
“We put the breathing apparatus on and walk around the streets of Camperdown,” he said.
“Two of the team work in Warrnambool and have access to stair climbing machines, so they’ve been using those as well.
“I haven’t got that access so I’ve been climbing up the steps at Mount Leura
“We can’t train with the breathing apparatus on all the time, because it has to remain at the fire station in case an emergency occurs, so it will be interesting how we go in the actual race.”
Fellow team member Kane Veenstra said training has been tough.
“It’s really hard work, but our endurance is building all the time,” he said.
“The hardest part is the heat –exercising with all that equipment on is like running with a doona wrapped around you.”
The foursome has already raised $1600 for the cause, with family and friends showing strong support and a donated Ritchies IGA hamper raffled to raise $400.
Anyone keen to sponsor the team can do so online at www.firefighterclimb.org.au/donate/ by clicking on one of the participant’s names.
Mr Carter said the aim of the event was to raise $250,000 to fund research, purchase new technology and improve paitient outcomes at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
“Due to their occupational exposure to the toxic carcinogens in a structure fire, firefighters are up to six times more likely to contract certain types of cancers,” he said.
“That’s why firefighters are passionate about Climbing for a Cure.”