Leroy Crawford-Flett is getting ready for another 15 minutes of hell when the OceanaGold Waihi team take on the Firefighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge this weekend.

A team of eight has formed the OceanaGold EMT Waihi team to climb 1103 steps at Sky Tower on May 18.

Leroy, a geologist, did the challenge last year in a time of 14 minutes, 25 seconds.

The top guys can do it in 10 minutes, he says.


"It was probably the hardest 15 minutes of exercise of my life," he says.

"It is unlike any physical sporting event I have ever done.

"Your body is trying to manage the stairs, 25kg of weight, you're overheating, and you're wearing mask on your face so it's not natural to exercise like that.

"You're basically cooking from the inside.

"It's hard physically but also psychologically as well."

Last year the combined OceanaGold Waihi and Macraes Mines Rescue Teams raised nearly $25,000 for the event — 950 firefighters in total took part — and OceanaGold was awarded third place for teams over 10 members fundraising category.

This year's crew is aiming to raise $20,000 and they are well on their way, with $16,000 already raised.

The event has raised more than $1 million over the past three years for the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Participants race up the Sky Tower in full firefighting kit (BG4) to raise funds and awareness for the charity. The statistics for blood cancer in New Zealand are harrowing — six people are diagnosed every day with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

The training and fundraising has got "really serious" according to the team members from OceanaGold.

The guys have been training on the Trig track, the stair machine at the gym and some are using weighted vests.

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• There are 1000 firefighters competing in this years Firefighters Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 18.
• Funds raised will go to the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand (LBC) to help fund emotional and practical support of blood cancer patients, education, investment in research and patient advocacy.
• At 328m the Sky Tower is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.
• There are 51 flights of stairs and 1103 individual steps. Firefighters wear up to 25kg of kit.
• LBC CEO Peter Fergusson says are they incredibly grateful for all the firefighters hard work and commitment to raise money for them. "It makes a real difference in the lives of blood cancer patients all around New Zealand. Firefighters who are competing in the challenge are very generous with their support of LBC. The dedication from brigades and communities across New Zealand is very humbling. It takes a special person to do a challenge like this and we wish them all the best in their fundraising and also their physical challenge up the Sky Tower.''