MP steps up for fire­fighter race

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

One step at a time just doesn’t seem quite enough for Auck­land Cen­tral’s en­er­getic new MP.

In­stead Nikki Kaye will be tackling 1100 stairs to­mor­row morn­ing as she puts her best foot for­ward for the an­nual Fire­fighter Sky Tower Chal­lenge.

The 28-year-old will be ditch­ing her cor­po­rate suit in ex­change for 25kg of fire­fight­ing gear as she joins more than 60 brigades and vol­un­teer brigades in their bid to raise money for the Leukaemia and Blood Foun­da­tion.

Now in its sixth year, the event is an in­tense car­dio chal­lenge even for the fit fire­fight­ers.

Ms Kaye, who won the Auck­land Cen­tral seat from long­stand­ing MP Ju­dith Tizard in Novem­ber, says it’s go­ing to be a huge chal­lenge.

“It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing,” she says.

“I’m just go­ing to take it one step at a time.”

Al­though she says her phi­los­o­phy for the event is to be a “com­pleter more so than a com­peter”, Ms Kaye is far from in­ex­pe­ri­enced when it comes to phys­i­cal chal­lenges.

She com­pleted the Coast to Coast race last year, fol­lowed by the Auck­land half marathon in Novem­ber and the Wai­heke Wharf to Wharf race in Jan­uary.

Al­though she says she’s not feel­ing in peak form at the mo- ment, she’s hop­ing a few prac­tise runs up Col­lege Hill this week would have helped pre­pare her.

Since it be­gan in 2003, the event has be­come a highly com­pet­i­tive race, not only for the fastest time up the tower but for the most money raised.

On­line fundrais­ing for the event sparks keen com­pe­ti­tion, with brigades se­cretly stock­pil­ing do­na­tions to mis­lead their ri­vals.

The race will start at 6.30am, with teams leav­ing ev­ery 30 sec­onds.

In past years the fastest have com­pleted the 51 flights of the tower in un­der 10 min­utes.

Last year 58 brigades took part, rais­ing $94,000 and the record looks set to be bro­ken in to­mor­row’s chal­lenge.

Leukaemia and Blood Foun­da­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Pru Etchev­erry says the or­gan­i­sa­tion is hugely ap­pre­cia­tive that the brigades find the time to com­pete in the chal­lenge, de­spite hec­tic sched­ules and months of men­tal and phys­i­cal train­ing.

“They are truly our he­roes and re­mark­able mem­bers of their com­mu­ni­ties.”

Ms Kaye says when she was ap­proached by the SkyC­ity or­gan­is­ers to com­pete in the chal­lenge she didn’t hes­i­tate to sup­port the cause.

“The thing I like about the Leukaemia and Blood Foun­da­tion is that it’s re­ally hand­son.

“The fo­cus is on sup­port­ing the fam­i­lies.”

Photo: BEN WAT­SON

Tall or­der: Nikki Kaye will be at­tempt­ing the gru­elling race up the Sky Tower to­mor­row.

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