10-Year Champion: Geoff Pyke

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Geoff Pyke is proud to be one of a handful of firefighters who has participated in the Wellspring Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge since its inception in 2015.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! What a trip going back in time, looking at all my pictures over the years!” he said.

Geoff lives in Canmore, Alberta and belongs to a department of 50 firefighters who work for Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Over the past decade, he and his crewmates have consistently entered a CNRL team in the challenge, and for several years in a row, they held the spot of top fundraising team.

“We raised over $100,000 in the first five years. I’m not sure what we’re at now, with some lower participation during COVID, but on average, around a quarter of our department signs up,” he said.

Geoff says the event is meaningful to him for several reasons, the first being his commitment to community, and to supporting those in the cancer trenches.

“I have friends who are firefighters who had or have cancer. Some made it and sadly some didn’t. So I climb in memory of some, and in support of those who are on their journey back to work, or back to wherever life takes them,” he said.

Geoff also loves that his two sons, ages seven and 10, get to witness the extraordinary energy and comradery of firefighters coming together from all over the world to meet and compete for an important cause.

Geoff and his family with Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth at the 2023 stairclimb.

“My family doesn’t get to see me in my work environment much, since I work up north, so it’s always nice to get involved in things where they can see me doing something and experience the firefighting community,” he said. “My boys love it. At the event they carry my pack and my helmet and warm up with me. They just really like being apart of it.”

On a personal note, Geoff loves being with fellow firefighters both local and distant; soaking up the good vibes; making new friends. And he loves the thrill of competing – as hard as it is every year – he gives it his all.

“I always have a goal of beating my previous time, but mostly I just like pushing myself to get the most out of my body and see what I can do. I think it’s fun, and I like to encourage other people to reach their full potential too,” he said.

When it comes to needing cancer support, Geoff is grateful there hasn’t been a cancer diagnosis in his immediate circle, but if there ever was, he knows Wellspring would be there for them.

“I’ve seen the impact of cancer on people and families, and I know how important it is to have an organization like Wellspring to offer support and resources when you’re in that situation,” he said. “Also, fundraising for Wellspring feels even more relevant now that Wellspring has expanded its services into rural communities all over Alberta. That added outreach makes it even more amazing.”

Tips for training

With 10 years in the game and counting, Geoff has two main tips for his fellow climbers:

  1.  Keep it fun by starting out early with activities you love! For Geoff that’s cross-country skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and swimming.
  2. Start ramping up your heart rate with some interval training around a month or six weeks out from the event. Geoff saves the hardcore step training till May.