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Montana Treasure: Missoula Firefighter goes for 7th straight stairclimb win

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MISSOULA -

This weekend thousands of firefighters will travel to Seattle to compete in the annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb.

It's a grinding competition that pits some of the nation's most fit people against each other in the name of raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

The men and women race up 69 flights of stairs wearing about 30 pounds of equipment while breathing compressed air. 

For the last six years, Missoula Firefighter Andy Drobeck has taken first place.

"What makes it difficult is the weight," Drobeck said. "The gear weighs 30-40 pounds and it's designed to keep moisture out, so it keeps moisture in. You get really hot."

Andy finishes in about 11 minutes every year. That's about ten seconds per flight. What's his secret? 

"I train a lot," he said. "For ten years now I've been training 20-30 hours a week."

Last year he ran a total of 2,000 miles and biked about 10,000 miles. 

He knows some of the nation's top firefighters are chasing him. Guys like his own teammate, Ben Brunsvold, who has finished just behind Drobeck for six years. 

"I chase him every year," Brunsvold said. "It's always a goal to catch him. I've tried a lot of different strategies in the stairwell for catching him and never got there. Maybe this is the year."

"Six years winning is good, but it's not like freakish," Drobeck said. "I think at any time anybody could win. If I lost, one year, I'll be disappointed, but it'll just motivate me to go back the next year and win."

Drobeck also holds the Guinness World Record for fastest mile in firefighter gear. He did that in just over 6:00.

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