Firey’s March climb



A Queenstown firefighter who’s participated in firefighters’ stair climbs around the world is starting one in his backyard.

Frankton station officer Jamie Harris is hosting a Queenstown Hill climb, ‘March March’, on March 27.

It’s aimed at firefighters and other emergency personnel, but is also open to anyone to enter.

Following suit from other stair climbs, firefighters will wear their level 2 turnout kits and, if they like, breathing apparatus on their backs.

‘‘Queenstown Hill’s an effort in itself when you’re normally just in shorts and t-shirts,’’ Harris says.

The idea for the event came in September when the annual Auckland Sky Tower 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was canned when that city went back into lockdown.

Instead, six Canterbury firemen joined four from the Frankton brigade, including Harris, for an informal Queenstown Hill climb.

‘‘Something I’ve always wanted to do is hold an event here,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s something I’ll do every year.’’

While March March participants will pay respect and thanks to those who serve and have served, there won’t be a fundraising component.

‘‘A few of my mates are coming in from Auckland, Christchurch, the West Coast and down south.’’

Harris, 47, has competed in Auckland’s Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge since 2009 and the 9/11 climb since 2015, and also notched up five stair climbs each in Seattle and New York, four in Melbourne and two in Sydney.

He says he first tackled the Auckland event, and then got hooked, as he’d not been entering firefighter team events, and liked only having to rely on himself.

That event, being a huge fundraiser for Leukemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand, also became personal when he knew a local youngster suffering leukemia.

Ironically, he’s a possible non-starter for his first backyard event — he tore his Achilles heel falling down a West Coast cliff and is awaiting an operation.