Hope volunteer firefighter Rebecca Arrowsmith set three impressive marks in her climb up 48 flights of stairs, in full gear, at the BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall event on Feb. 26.
She posted a personal best of 10 minutes, 16 seconds. She was once again the fastest female — and she set the standard for fundraising, bringing in $2,351 for the Lung Association.
“It’s overwhelming, how generous and supporting this town is,” said Arrowsmith. “Special thanks to the Hope Fire Department, Hope Lions Club, Buy-Low Foods and everybody who helped and supported me to exceed my goal and make the weekend so special.
“A few days before I went, the Hope Lions Club was able to do a pretty big donation of $500,” she said. “That put me over the top.
“We got a little over $1,000 from the fundraiser at Buy-Low Foods and Hall 3 (Kawkawa Lake) gave $300. The rest were individual donations,” said the 23 year-old.
“Last year, I got about $1,600 and my goal for this year was to get $2,000 and it really went well.”
The Hope donations amount to over three per cent of the $70,000 brought in by 250 runners, 86 of them firefighters. Funds will be used to support the Lung Association’s programs, promoting healthy lungs.
Fire chief Tom DeSorcy was at a curling bonspiel, so couldn’t be there to cheer on Arrowsmith.
“All of us in the Hope Fire Department are very proud of Becca and her accomplishments,” he said. “She is just one example of the dedication to training among our members. Personally, as a volunteer myself with the BC Lung Association, it’s awesome that our members have embraced the event. In fact, a dedicated team are already in training for next year.”
Buy-Low Foods manager, Pauline Svensrud added, “Rebecca has been working here since she was 14 and she still fills in on a part-time basis. We’re all proud of her accomplishments at the stairclimb and of being able to be part of her reaching her fundraising goals.”
Though Arrowsmith is active in her daily life, it’s hard to prepare for the grind of 48 flights of stairs, breathing through a Scott air pack and wearing a total 30 kilograms (65 pounds) of gear.
At Vancouver’s Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel, the stair climb starts with two flights in the basement, followed by a lateral sprint through the lobby — then 46 flights of stairs to the top floor.
“Oh yeah,” said Arrowsmith. “After the fifth consecutive flight, you start to feel it. For me, it was in the legs.
“Crowding wasn’t as bad this year,” she said. “They spaced it out by about 20 seconds between runners. I only had to pass two people and I got passed by one.
“The fastest guy was seven minutes, 30 seconds,” said Arrowsmith. “He passed me on the steps… a big, tall guy, taking two steps at a time. It seemed like a normal step for him.” She had learned in her first run, in 2015, that skipping a step wasn’t going to work for her.
After shedding her gear and downing some water, Arrowsmith rode the elevator to the ground floor and readied for the awards ceremony.
The only downer of the day was that her soccer game was cancelled, due to snow.
“I was kind of looking forward to it,” said Arrowsmith, “as it was against one of our closest rivals.”
But what’s guaranteed is that none of the others would have gone through Arrowsmith’s pre-game warm-up.