Cochrane firefighters take on stairclimb challenge

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A Cochrane firefighter and the local Calgary president of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) pushed their physical abilities to the limit as they battled it out in a race to the top of Calgary’s highest skyscraper.

This morning, Cochane firefighter Derek Orr raced Mike Carter of IAFF raced up 1,204 steps (775 vertical feet) to the top of Calgary’s Bow building as part of an cancer awareness event.

In the end, Orr came out on top and raised $650 and counting for WellSprings Calgary, a cancer support group run entirely on donations. Cochrane Fire Service’s team overall is just shy of their $2000 fundraising goal but are still expecting some late donations to come in.

The race was for the President’s Cup Challenge put on by Carter and is a part of Calgary’s fourth annual Stairclimb Challenge, hosted by the Calgary Firefighters Benevolent Society and presented by Encana Corporation.

The event, in support of Wellspring and raising awareness of firefighters and citizens affected by cancer – is the highest elevation firefighter stairclimb in the world.

Three other Cochrane firefighters took part in the event later in the afternoon with Orr joining them for his second climb of the day. All four of them completed their climbs in under 15 minutes.

Cochrane firefighter Chris Chyka said his team’s participation is about showing their support for those they know battling cancer.

“We’ve had about four or five people in our department affected by cancer and they actually accessed Wellspring,” Chyka said. “It’s one of our marquee events.”

The firefighters began training stair climbing in January at the four and a half story host tower in Cochrane without any gear.

Then after a month or so of practice, they geared up and got ready for the full distance.

“It’s a good gauge for us yearly as well. Each year it just kind of puts us in our place to see where we’re at physically, see if we dropped a few minutes off our time or gained a few,”Chyka said.

It was the first time participating in the event for Alex Vague, left, who had the top time of 12 minutes and 43 seconds and came eighth overall at the event. While Derek Orr, center, came close at 13 minutes and five seconds and 17th overall.

Orr and Chris Chyka, right, have participated each year since the event’s inception. Bob Beer (not pictured) also took part on behalf of Cochrane Fire Services.

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Amy Tucker

Amy is a news reporter with the Cochrane Eagle covering everything from fire, crime and education to Morley events. Her previous career highlights include producing a mini documentary in India and coproducing a podcast spotlighting the tricky mixture of love and age. Amy has a degree in journalism and has tendencies to wander. When she's not writing the news, she spends her spare time swimming, dreaming about her next adventure and thinking about ways that she can make the planet a little greener.