The 6th Annual Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge was held this past week on Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th at the historic site of the Kaiser Welhelm Memorial Church. Several months earlier, in a matter of four minutes the on line registration had filled with over 300 participating firefighters from around Europe. This presented a logistical challenge and stretches the boundaries for exactly how many participants can realistically expect to earn a birth at the event.
Mike Weikamm, the organizer of the event, with the support of Team Berlin did an admirable job of managing the more than 17 hours of competition. In one sense, this is a nice problem. We realize that in the out years, we're going to hold more regional events and eliminations in our quest to crown a European champion. If you would have had the opportunity to have attended this momentous event, you would have felt very much at home. Firefighters around the globe are cut from the same bolt of cloth.
However, a couple of behaviors are rarely witnessed at US events: lighting up a cigarette immediately after a run, or handing a buddy a beer for fluid replacement. Otherwise, cheering on each other and celebrating PRs with high-fives was very much in evidence.
I'm amazed at how fast things have progressed since the fairly humble start at Potsdamer Platz a very short six years ago. You can tell that the guys have been studying the enormous number of YouTube videos. Technique is becoming very important as is specificity of training. Competitors have familiarized themselves the the World Record run of Bob Russell (1:19) as well as the nuances of Brandon Cunningham.
A good dozen or so of the Competitors went sub 2:00. The question typically asked is how valid are these times? Pretty close. The hose drag with a significantly smaller diameter and weight is easier. The tower, constructed of scaffolding will always be harder. It's very stable, but the railings act as brakes. The timing system precisely follows the rules. The Keiser Force Machine, Rescue Randy, Saloon Doors and Target are spot on.
The playing surface was perhaps a bit more slippery than asphalt when wet, but all in all, the Berliner Feuerwehr has done an absolutely excellent job of replication down to the red and blue carpets. The photos here, as well as on Facebook do an excellent job of capturing the ambiance.
I'll have a few more posts on the subject of our European events over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.