AMHERST - Two rookies, one veteran, and tons of determination and tenacity recently returned home from the Scott FireFit Challenge, National Championship's in Baie Comeau, Quebec.
"We'll do better next year," said 46-year-old Amherst fire fighter, Mark Goodwin.
Goodwin traveled to the competition with 24-year-old Matt Selig and 21-year-old Tyler McLeod.
"We went up as wildcards with the opportunity to make it to the final day," said Goodwin. "I made it to the over-45 class in the finals, and Tyler went four seconds under the wire and made it to the final day.
"We both really sucked (on the final day)," said Goodwin with a laugh.
Although he didn't make it to the final day, Selig shed 10 seconds off his best time of 2:27, which he ran a few weeks ago in Gaspe, Quebec.
He said he was beating himself up all day over his performance in Baie Comeau.
"I watched the video afterwards and there's a lot of stuff I missed on that course that I could have taken time off on," he said.
"He's a rookie at this," said Goodwin. "To take 10 seconds off in three weeks is nothing to laugh at. He did an exceptional job."
Selig has been with the Amherst Fire Department since Jan. 2010, and started taking the FireFit challenge more serious after competing in Joggins in the summer of 2011.
"The Joggins course was a good wake up call," said Selig. "That's where I realized I needed to start doing something.
"I was 330 pounds and I'm 265 now. I have another 40 (pounds) to go, hopefully by next year."
The three men train three to five days a week, and Selig said he shed the first 65 pounds easily but is going to start watching his diet more closely to lose the final 40 pounds.
"It's important to eat properly," said Goodwin. "The FireFit Challenge is called the toughest two minutes in sports and, unless you've done it, you'll never understand. When you're done, you're done."
The toughest part is the tower.
"The tower is our biggest nemesis," said Goodwin.
The course starts with firefighters carrying a folded-up hose up several flights of stairs (the tower), once at the top they use a rope to pull another hose, hand over hand, from the ground to the top of the tower.
Next, they run to the bottom of the tower, run to a fire hose, pull the hose to a target, open the hose and hit the target with water.
Finally they have to drag a 175-pound dummy 100 feet across the finish line.
Goodwin has been with the Amherst Fire Department since 2000, and has run the FireFit course about 20 times.
He says rookies and veterans run the course differently.
"When I run, it's a thinking race," he said. "I can see what I'm doing and I know what I have to do, and I usually make it happen.
"I know when I first began competing, when they said go, my mind was gone," he added. "I just tried to bulldog through the race."
Selig agrees, saying he could improve in all areas, especially on the tower.
"The fastest guys don't look very fast on the tower but when you look at their technique they're smooth," he said. "You need to find your pace and stay there."
Goodwin said he was thinking of retiring until Selig and McLeod started competing.
"This was going to be my retirement year but these guys aren't going to let me," said Goodwin.
"He's going to run in the over-50 in a couple of years," said Selig with a laugh.
Goodwin laughs at the idea and said, "Either I'm looking after the kids, or they're looking after the old man, I'm not sure what it is.
"It's nice to find two people who are as addicted as I am," added Goodwin. "It's very difficult to train on your own, and to find two guys like this who got as addicted to it as I am made it much easier to stay in it."