Firies conquer the tower

Big challenge: Firefighters Simon Bowden, Claire Jones, Kylie Lichfield and Richard Stokes PICTURE: GAVIN MASON, QUEENSTOWN AIRPORT RESCUE FIRE

Queenstown firies have climbed to the top of a nationwide firefighter fundraiser.

Queenstown Airport Rescue Crew firefighters Claire Jones and Simon Bowden won their respective categories at last weekend’s Sky Tower Stair Challenge in Auckland.

It was first time lucky for Jones, who won the open women’s in her inaugural attempt at the challenge with a time of 13mins 13secs.

As for Bowden, who was on his second attempt, he rose from 29th place last year to the top spot in the masters with a time of 11mins 18sec.

Bowden says he was “pleasantly surprised” by the win.

“It was a lot tougher, I thought I was slower than last year.”

Jones says she’s “pretty happy” with the result.

She trained by walking up Queenstown Hill in her firefighting gear, which she drily describes as “not pleasant”.

A total of 26 firefighters from around the Wakatipu climbed the 51 flights of stairs to raise money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

The Frankton Volunteer Fire Brigade raised the most money out of the local teams, with $9944.

They were followed by Arrowtown with $5020, and Queenstown, with $3874.

The airport crew raised about $3000, Jones says.

Bowden says the atmosphere on the day was special.

“There was a pretty good buzz, and it’s an amazing cause.”