|Amherst firefighter Vince Smith looks over a crowd of participants and spectators during the first Maritime Firefighters Association Combat Challenge held in Hilden over the weekend. Smith placed second with his individual time, while he and the Amherst team - Mark Goodwin, Jody MacKenzie and Matt Smith - placed first in the relay. Goodwin also came in first in the Over 40 category. Colin MacLean - Transcontinental Media|
"From a personal standpoint, I ran faster than I thought I would," said the 20-year-old who has been a firefighter with the Amherst department since the beginning of February. "I couldn't actually believe the time I finished with."
Smith finished the individual competition with a time of 2:09 to take second place behind Upper Stewiacke's Jacob Keddy who finished with a time of 1:59.
To run the course, the firefighters had to carry a hose up a 30-foot tower, haul another hose up over the side, race back down the stairs to a forced entry simulator. Following the simulator, participants had to hit a stop sign target with a water hose before dragging Resque Randy, a 175lb dummy, 100-feet to the finish line.
For Smith, dragging Randy across the finish line was the hardest.
"By the time you get (to Randy), you're pretty much winded and your legs are ready to give out on you," he said, adding the whole experience was great.
"I didn't really know what to expect. It's the first one I've ever been to and I didn't even know how many people were going to be there. I went down for a good time and to try my best.
"I definitely wasn't expecting to have such a good finish on the individual or the team event."
Along with Smith, three other local firefighters competed - Matt Smith, Mark Goodwin and Jody MacKenzie.
On the individual front, Matt Smith finished with a time of 2:32, while Goodwin ran a time of 2:28, winning the Over 40 category.
MacKenzie didn't compete in the individual category, but all four combined their efforts for the relay course, leading the other seven teams with a time of 1:44.
"Everybody had lots of fun," said MacKenzie. "Everybody was out helping everybody."
While the firefighters decided somewhat last minute to compete, they trained as much as they could in the time they had.
"We met at the fire department the night before to figure out who was doing what," said Smith, adding he and one of his buddies ran a sample course at the department a couple of times.
"We'd never practiced together before and for all four of us to run such a good time was really exciting," Smith said.
"It's hard on anybody," added MacKenzie. "It doesn't matter how much training someone does, it's going to be hard on them."
- ADN 10/06/08