MISSOULA — A lot of us turn our attention to fitness to this time of the year. But those goals don't include a timed climb of 70-flights of stairs. Unless you're a Missoula firefighter.
The pounding of turnout boots is once more filling the tall stairwells in the UM dorms, the tallest in Missoula and the only place where Missoula firefighters can drill for the upcoming Seattle Stairclimb.
BLAKE MEYERS##MISSOULA FIREFIGHTER EMT
"Definitely gotta build yourself up to getting the endurance to be able to climb those 70 flights of stairs," Firefighter/EMT Blake Meyers says during a quick break.
Seven trips, up and down, without stopping. The only way to replicate the 1300-plus steps the MFD stair climbing team will face when the Annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Firefighter Stairclimb returns to the the towering Columbia Center in March.
This year, training had to be moved over here to Jesse Hall, but the firefighters are still taking advantage of a full 10 flights of stairs for their training.
"We start with a lot of outdoor hikes," Meyers explains. "And then in the months leading up to the stair climb event we would like to get in the stairwell and actually climb stairs. And we come to one of the dorms here Missoula and able to climb 10 flights of stairs at a time and usually do it. You know, seven times to try to replicate that 70 flights."
No matter the math. This is grueling. And to be this close as the firefighters pound the stairs makes you appreciate how hard this "call" is. Especially returning after the pandemic and assembling a team of veterans and newcomers to replicate the Top 10 finishes of the past.
"Definitely with the year off, couple years off, it leaves you susceptible to kind of getting lazy and and not being in that same same workout mode," Meyers says. "But it just kind of hurts a little bit more in the build up in these last two months."
And of course it's all for a good cause.
"I mean definitely for a good cause. Raising money for the Leukemia Lymphoma society. Another big push for another big fundraiser."
A fundraiser that's already collected more than $700,000 thousand this year from firefighters across the Northwest.
Climbing toward a goal of $2-million.