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Stair climbers tackle Edmonton's tallest skyscrapers for prostate cancer research

A stair climbing challenge raised $77,000 for prostate cancer research Sunday morning in Edmonton.

Some participants climbed close to 340 flights of stairs

Teams of people climbed the steps of some of Edmonton's tallest buildings to raise money for prostate cancer research. 1:41

Before much of the city had even gotten out of bed Sunday morning, Mark Mahl was working up a serious sweat climbing stairs — a lot of stairs. 

The executive director of Prostate Cancer Canada was among 13 teams that climbed up — and down — five skyscrapers in downtown Edmonton. By the end of the morning, he'd climbed the equivalent of about 339 floors, or 4,000 feet, and figures he burned about 3,000 calories.

It was all part of the Step Up Challenge, a fundraiser for prostate cancer research and awareness. Funds from Sunday's event, the first in Edmonton, will go toward researching the disease at the University of Alberta. 

The event raised about $77,000.

Mahl pushed himself up and down the stairs with his father in mind.

"I lost my father five years ago and every day I wish I could get him back," Mark Mahl said. (Sebastien Tanguay/CBC)

"I lost my father five years ago and every day I wish I could get him back," he said. 

"It's a tough challenge ... it's very tough. But I always say I believe it pales in comparison to what men and their families have to go through when they're diagnosed. This is the number one cancer killer in men in North America."

Participants climbed up downtown Edmonton's TD, MNP, Enbridge, Bell and Oxford towers. 

1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer

One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, said Dr. Kerry Courneya, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Alberta.

Courneya researches prevention, early screening and treatment of prostate cancer. He focuses on how exercise can be used in prostate cancer care and improving the quality of life for men who have the disease.

His research has shown that exercise increases the physical and mental wellbeing of men who have prostate cancer.

Early detection is key, he said, and middle-aged men should get screened.

"There are things they can do in terms of treating early stage cancer," Courneya said.

"It's still good to know you have the prostate cancer because then we do much closer surveillance and screening of it, and are able to intervene as soon as you need it."

Participants cross the finish line Sunday morning during the Step Up Challenge in City Centre Mall. (Sebastien Tanguay/CBC)

Stacy Miskolczi completed the entire stair climbing challenge on her own.

The Edmonton Police Service officer is also a professional stair climber, and has done the challenge in other Canadian cities.

She said some of her partners and coworkers have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, so she was happy to take part in the challenge to show her support.

She said she plans to do it all over again next year in Edmonton, but in full uniform.

"I've seen firsthand what people go through. Not just prostate cancer, but any kind of cancer," she said.

"It's a challenge, and this is my way of giving back."