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Stepping up . Weston Volunteer Firefighters (from left) Josh Lee, Bernie Miller and Kylie Stenton will be bringing their best to the 2019 Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Three Weston volunteer firefighters, 1103 steps, 51 flights of stairs, 25kg of kit.

The countdown is on to this year’s Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge for Kylie Stenton, Josh Lee and Bernie Miller.

On May 18, they will be among the 1000 firefighters racing up Auckland’s Sky Tower in a bid to raise money for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

It has become an annual challenge for Mrs Stenton, now in her third year entering the event.

She said she entered for the same reasons she had been volunteering for the Weston Volunteer Fire Brigade for the past eight years.

“It’s a really good reason to volunteer for something and raise money and have fun.

“It’s really good personal discipline, it’s a good excuse to keep fit and it’s a fantastic event,” she said.

Last year, she reached the top of the Sky Tower in 18min 28sec. This year, she hoped to beat her time, but the ultimate goal was raising money for a good cause.

Mr Lee, entering for a third year, and Mr Miller, now in his sixth year, also hope to beat their respective 2018 times of 13min 11sec and 14min 29sec.

“I’m just happy to get to the top,” Mr Miller said.

They all had different strengths and their varied individual training programmes – including weighted hill climbs, half marathons, mountain biking and the stairmaster – reflected that.

They had also been training together, entering the Papakaio eight-hour mountain bike race in March.

“Josh made us do it – Bernie and I had never, ever done anything like that before,” Mrs Stenton said.

“We loved it, so that’s probably something we’ll support again next year.”

Now, they are stepping up their training efforts – including exercising in their 25kg kit.

“It’s important to try and get used to the heat,” Mr Lee said.

The Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge is not only a physical and mental challenge. Entrants are also challenged to to fundraise as much as possible for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

The Weston team held a quiz night last weekend, attracting about 160 people and raising $4718.70 for the cause.

They are also auctioning a special deer-shaped brazier, made by Mr Lee, on Trade Me. The auction closes on Sunday night. To place a bid, search “Deer Brazier – Charity Fundraiser” on Trade Me.