We spoke with Leanna, a firie from Raglan Fire Station in New Zealand, who recently completed the 72 floor Memorial Climb in New York City.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, how did you get involved in this event?
We started doing the Auckland Stair climb (51 floors) a few years back in a newly introduced “Steel cylinder category” (which we had been using in previous years) separate of the carbon cylinder category. There’s about 10kg difference in weight, which we were used to – having previously competed in the steel category. Dan got 1st in his age group in Auckland in the inaugural year of steel and I (Leanna) got fastest girl in steel. This gave us some confidence that we were just as fit as the carbon category, just carrying significantly different weight. So we decided to race in Melbourne (30 floors) last year to see how we compare in carbon. I came 3rd in the open women’s and Dan took 17th in his age group. We decided that we had done the miles in training we might as well have a crack at New York and see how we go.
We trained solidly for three months doing stairs every 2nd day. Our calf muscles are so tight from all the stairs that we have had to introduce some cross training to keep our bodies balanced and give our calves’ some reprieve!
How did you go – Did you complete it?
We completed the 72 floors both of us without stopping!
Was it as difficult as you thought?
Yes, it is a very mental sport as when you are climbing it is only you that can get you up the stairs. Your body is always screaming at you to stop, but you need to override your brain and push on. From about floor 40 to 60 it is a real mental game to not stop and have a break.
It is foremost a memorial stair climb. We had a minute of silence next to the reflection pools before climbing. We each carried a tag of a fallen firefighter that died in 9/11. As you climb, their photos are on the walls in the stairwell. This is very sad but motivating at the same time.
It looked like there were firefighters from all over – have you met some interesting new firies?
We met some nice American firefighters, there were lots of Kiwi’s there and only bumped into one Aussie!
Would you do it again?
Definitely! (if my VISA card can afford the hit again)! It is very expensive to get there but an amazing experience. New York is an amazing place and I absolutely loved the city! The people are very friendly.
Good on you guys, well done.