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‘Very fast times’: Athletes race up Winnipeg skyscraper at World Police and Fire Games

Hundreds of athletes raced the top of Winnipeg’s newest skyscraper Saturday as the World Police and Fire Games come to a close this weekend.

The Stair Race, one of the most popular events at the games, saw nearly 200 competitors climb 42 flights of stairs at 300 Main Street. The event is simple: athletes must race up nearly 750 stairs from the building’s sub-basement to the roof in the shortest possible time.

“Some of the athletes were doing it in just a couple of minutes. Very, very fast times,” said Jim King, vice president of the World Police and Fire Games Federation.

There are two versions of the event, one with full firefighting gear – including helmet, coat, and boots – and one with regular sports wear.

“What’s remarkable is that we had athletes do the full gear competition first, take that off, and then go do the sport gear…so a lot of these athletes went up twice,” said King.

He said the athletes train hard because emergency responders need to be able to climb stairs quickly when fighting fires in tall buildings.

“High rise fires are the worst fires you can fight…conditioning is very important,” King said.

Arnout Aben is a first responder from Amsterdam. He’s been practicing for the event, climbing stairs every Sunday morning. “It’s tough, the stair race is just going. Not stopping, just going,” he said.

Aben said he could have had a better time in the race. He said he did have a few regrets as he was climbing.

“Oh man, that last beer, that last meal, I shouldn’t have done it,” said Aben.

He said he’s been having an amazing time in Winnipeg this week.

“It’s a very nice city. It’s flat, like the Netherlands but its very wide, were not used to that,” Aben said.

“The best thing here is the people,” he added. “People are very, very friendly. If you wear an orange coloured shirt, everybody wants to talk with you.”

The World Police and Fire Games wrap up on Sunday.

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