Paul steps up to take on lung-busting race

Firefighter Paul Morrow gets ready to tackle the stairs at the Obel Tower. Pic by Darren Kidd, Presseye
Firefighter Paul Morrow gets ready to tackle the stairs at the Obel Tower. Pic by Darren Kidd, Presseye

Ballyclare man Paul Morrow proved his mettle at the World Police and Fire Games by climbing his way into the top 10 in the gruelling Stair Race.

The 33-year-old firefighter from White Watch at Glengormley Fire Station made the energy-sapping run up all 550 stairs of Belfast’s tallest skyscraper in just over three minutes - a very respectable time in one of the Games’ most hotly contested events.

Competitors had to wear full firefighting kit, including boots, helmet and breathing apparatus (BA) - a total weight of around 25kg - and set off at one minute intervals to race up 27 floors to the top of the Obel Tower - the tallest building in Ireland.

The father-of-three, who plays rugby for Ballyclare RFC, only registered to take part in the event four weeks before the Games began.

He trained alongside colleague Eamon Heggarty at the multi-storey flats in Rathcoole and once at the Obel Tower in the run up to the event, which took place on August 4.

And although he was up against athletes who’d been training for months, his time of three minutes and two seconds meant he finished sixth out of 18 competitors in the 30 - 34 age group and was second fastest among the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service competitors.

“It was very, very tough. At the top you pretty much couldn’t stand and just collapsed into a chair - I don’t know whether it was just sheer exhaustion or the build up of lactic acid in the legs. Everyone when they reached the top was just completely exhausted and the best thing was just getting your helmet and BA set off,” he said.

Reflecting on his chosen event, he said there had been a real competitive atmosphere, but great camaraderie among all the participants.

“It was absolutely brilliant. My biggest regret was not entering more events. I got myself up to a good level of fitness so I should have entered some of the other events and I think I could have done alright,” he added.

Having enjoyed the whole experience of this year’s Games, Paul says he would love to compete at the 2015 Games in Fairfax, USA.