Fire crew step up to challenge

A lack of tall buildings in Blenheim has seen the Rarangi Rural fire crew make the most of their surroundings.

Five members are training hard for the upcoming Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge on 18 May.

And the steps to Monkey Bay have taken a pounding as the team utilise them for training.

Carrying loads up to 25kg, the five-strong team meet each week, running up and down the steep stairs up to 25 times without stopping.

For team captain Scottie Henry, the steps have proven to be a great training tool.

“We use them to train all year and are put there two or three times a week but make sure to all get together once a week too and train as a team.

“Urban stations have towers they can train on, but we don’t and going into Blenheim so often would have been a lot of travelling,” he says.

Alongside teammates Gary Graham, Steve Smith, Janelle White and Andy Ruffman, Scottie will return to Auckland for the challenge to help raise vital funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

It will be the third time the team have taken part in the challenge, which attracts entrants from across New Zealand.

“We do punch above our weight here,” Scottie says.

Blenheim Rural firefighter Steve Smith joined-up after a chance chat.

“We were just sitting in the truck and Steve said he’d heard about it [the challenge] and decided to do it with us.

“He’s been great; he fitted right in.”

Wearing weights around their wrists, on their chests and carrying weighted backpacks, members are a familiar sight on the steps as they clock up the kilometers.

Scottie, who is also a St John’s medic, says the Marlborough landscape means they must keep fit.

“We get exposed to climbing mountains, long shifts and do try to keep our fitness levels up.

“I had to back off training a bit for two or three months through injury and it was a hell of a shock.

The crew are entering as a team but taking part in individual challenges.

Scottie says that during the challenge itself, which takes them 60 floors up, there is more going on than people might realise.

“There are a whole bunch of people to say hi to, if you can that is!

“Some of them compete in disgustingly fast times of around 8-and-a-half minutes but if we can do it in under 20, that’s a win.”

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