SALT LAKE CITY -- In less than 2 minutes, Hill Air Force Base firefighter Sergio Alarcon raced up from the first floor of the Zions Bank Building to the 18th floor.
Alarcon, dressed in full fire turnout gear with an air pack, was among 250 participants in the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb. The Clinton man finished, while listening to AC/DC, at 1 minute and 40 seconds.
This is the event's 10th year in Salt Lake City and the first time it was held at Zions Bank at 1 S. Main St., Salt Lake City. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of the participants were firefighters, said Glenn Lanham, executive director of the American Lung Association. Firefighters from agencies all over Utah participated in the event.
Lanham said the event is a fund raiser that also brings awareness of breathing issues such as lung diseases, which include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
Besides firefighters, people from throughout the state participated, including South Ogden resident Candy Hendrix, who ran in memory of her sister, who died a year ago from COPD, and Jim Shea, 2002 Olympic gold medal skeleton racer, and his wife, Dr. Kellee Reed Shea.
Hendrix said she has participated in races over the years in memory of her sister, Karyn Campbell, who was 61 when she died. She wore a T-shirt with her sister's photo on the front.
Lung disease plagues her family. Hendrix's mother died of COPD at the age of 53, and she never met her maternal grandfather, who died from the same disease.
"My family is cheering me on and I'm just going to keep running for them," Hendrix said.
Shea said he and his wife decided to participate "because it's important to give back to the community."
For Alarcon it was his second time to participate. His wife, Cristina, and their children, Liliana, 2 years old; and Krew, 4 months old, were among the well-wishers who cheered them on as the competitors started up the stairs. Then they hustled to the bank of elevators to get to the 18th floor to greet the stair climbers as they puffed up the last flight.
"It was hard to find the pace, because every turn the stairs would be different; there would be five, then three, then four," Alarcon said.
Hill Air Force Base sent 19 firefighters to compete. Also competing for Hill was 12-year-old Dylan Lingelbach of Roy, who brought the number to 20.
His father, Hill Firefighter Capt. Cory Lingelbach, has competed for five years. This was the first time he competed with his son.
Dylan wore a fire helmet, like his dad, and also wore turnout gear that the base firefighters use when they go to a fire on the flight line. It is made of reflective material and is lighter. The 85-pound boy also did not carry an air pack, like the other firefighters.
"With all the gear and the air pack, you're packing 50 pounds," Capt. Lingelbach said.
Dylan said part of the eight hours of workout each week for training included practicing walking up stairs wearing the fire helmet because it is heavy.
Capt. Lingelbach said because of the helmet's weight, Dylan naturally wants to bend his head down toward his chin as he walks up the stairs.
"And that can cut off his windpipe, making it hard to breathe," Capt. Lingelbach said.
The two finished the climb in 1 minute and 45 seconds.
When they finished Dylan said, "It was hot and hard" going up the stairs in the fire turnout gear, but he plans to show up again next year.
Sunset Fire Capt. Kelcee Oyler said one of the reasons fire departments participate in the event is "because it's a good team unit exercise."
She said her team, like other teams, trained together for several months to be ready.
"It does give us a good reason to work out and a bit of friendly competition," Oyler said as she cooled down after completing her race up the stairs.
Farmington Fire Chief Guido Smith was among the four firefighters from his department who participated.
After removing his gear and catching his breath, Smith said this was the first time in his 23 years of fire service to participate in the event.
"We've incorporated a fitness program in the last couple of years and we're setting some bars," Smith said.
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE.