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3 News sports presenter Michelle Pickles steps up for charity

Friday 26 Apr 2013 7:00 a.m.

Michelle Pickles takes a breather while training for the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge

Michelle Pickles takes a breather while training for the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge

3 News sports presenter and reporter Michelle Pickles is taking on a challenge of a lifetime, to race up 1100 stairs while wearing a full fire fighters kit weighing up to 25kg in the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge. She’s doing it for charity, to raise money and awareness for the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer Foundation. Follow her training as she prepares for the big day.

I’m always up for a challenge. But this one may just be the hardest one that I've taken on yet.

On May 11, I’ll be doing the Firefighters Sky Tower Challenge. In case you’re not sure what that is, it involves climbing 1100 stairs up the Sky Tower, wearing a full fire fighters kit weighing up to 25kg.

I’m seriously hoping it’s actually not that heavy.

Apparently, it’s a competition and the word 'race' has been used a lot. I will not be competing and I certainly won’t be racing. For me, this is about something bigger than finishing first.

As tough as 1100 steps with all that extra weight may sound, it’s for an amazing cause. I’m raising money and awareness for the Leukaemia & Blood Cancer Foundation.

This is a cause which is close to my heart. I’ve lost an aunty to leukaemia and two years ago a very good friend of mine in Canada was diagnosed with double hit lymphoma. I’m pleased to say he has come through a gruelling regime of drugs and chemo and radiotherapy and is doing well.

Every day in New Zealand, six children and adults are diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The LBCF is the national charity which supports patients and their families. They receive no Government funding and so fundraising events such as these are vital.

I’m now into my 5th week of training. Incredibly, 3 News presenter Hilary Barry is training with me, despite the fact she’s not actually doing the climb.

Hilary is an ambassador for the LBCF and did the climb two years ago and is the person who talked me into doing it.

She failed to tell me how tough it was though and I think she’s offered to help me train to make up for that.

Now that I know what’s involved, I’ve realised what an incredibly generous offer that is – because man – it’s tough!

We train in the Vero building in downtown Auckland. The lovely people at Bell Gully have organised an access card for us and so twice a week we trudge up 51 floors, 22 stairs each floor.

The first time I trained I did ten floors and nearly passed out. I thought I was relatively fit but it turned out I’m really not.

Two weeks ago I started training with a 5kg bag of rice in my backpack. When I finished and took it off, I nearly fell over. I’m glad there no security cameras to see that one.

At the moment, I’m training with two five kilogram bags of rice in my backpack. And I can tell you, even nine hours after finishing the training my legs still hurting and are like jelly. At least when this is over I won’t need to buy rice for about a year.

I’m still waiting for my ‘buns of steel’ to appear. It’s not happening, but I’ll keep looking. There’s still time with just over two weeks to go – and counting. Bring it on, I say.

I’ll update you again on our training antics soon. Meantime, here’s my fundraising page in case you’d like to help me along the way. It’s for a great cause.

http://www.firefightersclimb.org.nz/view_event_profile/2359

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