Monday, October 26, 2015

Roll Credits...Capital Cool

Typical crowd shot during the week of World Challenge XXIV
Shortly after our CAB (Challenge Advisory Board) meeting on Wednesday, Dave Valero (aka Diamond Dave) of the El Paso Fire Department suggested that we have a Blog for those who would like to convey to our hosts, the City of Montgomery their kudos for the most outstanding World Championships ever. 

This is that place. Let me attempt to count the ways: bleachers, shelter, water, snacks, course help, goody bag (with tee shirts), sunglasses, shuttle service, air conditioned head, just for starters.

It’s pretty simple- just add your comments and they’ll automatically be shared with those who have invested so much to raise the bar. And, in case you missed it, even the street lights recognized our presence. You need to have a gmail, Open ID or google account to post. Also, here's our hashtag for twitter: #WorldsMontgomery2015.

Proclaimation from the Mayor, Todd Strange

Sunday, October 25, 2015

WCXXIV: Montgomery Day 6

Living up to its expectations, the Relay Competition produced a full house and all the expected noise and caphony. There were surprises in the races, as a single bobble by one of the favorites would spell defeat.

Clearly, our “E-Ticket” ride is a crowd pleaser. We’ll be talking about this “Worlds” and the Montgomery event for a very long time. (The term “E-Ticket” for those of you who have been to Disneyland long ago, was the very best of rides like Space Mountain.)

The tribute to Jeanie Allen was one of my most moving experiences ever, bringing tears to everyone’s eyes. Mayor Strange, compelled with the emortions of a man who cares deeply for other people and who has a very fond place in his heart for firefighters was looking for a way to express his sympathy and did so by hugging me tightly. I had no words.

The loss of an admired friend such as Jeanie had the pain not unlike that of the loss of a child. My wife and I learned a lot about Jeanie during her valient fight and was honored do what little we could to provide a refuge at our house when she would come to NIH in Bethesda for her clinical trials.

Hopefully, all of you, on your passing will be similarly revered.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

WCXXIV: Montgomery Day Five

Street banner in Montgomery Alabama
A repeating theme on the conversation here in Montgomery is the scale of what’s important. Interestingly, in discussions with veteran competitors, the actual racing takes second place to the incredible fraternity that is the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

There’s a huge segment of North American firefighters who are missing out on what is the most elite of the firefighter community.

Ross Lowery, who retired as BatChief3 from Moline, IL was our operations manager and Course Marshal for several years in the early days. He remarked that he would not trade the experience for the world.

So, when people ask you about why you do this, you, like thousands of others will likely say, “I really can’t adequately tell you about the experience- you have to be there.”

You can check out the standings for all the races elsewhere on this website. Kamloops will host an awards ceremony within the next six weeks or so. And all the other competitors will show their medals and combat swag to admiring fans. We’ll be hard at work editing for uploading the video of the various races. But, all the while, there’s going to be a reflection of the six days in Alabama that were over the top. And that will bring a smile to your face.

WCXXIV Montgomery Lion’s Den

This year’s class of Lion’s Den Inductees is the largest ever, with the most foreign nationals as well. The Grand Ballroom of the Embassy Suites was filled to capacity and beyond. Our best estimates of the crowd is something close to 500 attendees.

The program may be viewed on YouTube at this link:

2015 Lion’s Den Inductees at the Embassy Suites, Montgomery, Alabama
Noteworthy was the response of the audience to the appeals of Chris Cerci for support of his battalion chief, only recently diagnosed with Stage Four cancer and Cheri Ardoin for the scholarship fund for Jeanie Allen’s kids. We raised $1800 and $5,000 respectively.

Friday, October 23, 2015

WCXIV- Montgomery Day Four

With Wednesday logically being the biggest day of the week, many competitors took Thursday as a rest day in preparation for the Finals.

Ted Overcash, the perennial “Ever Ready Bunny” of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge came up with the idea of an Over 60 Relay team. Actually, he wanted to go for 70, but it came down to just himself and Dr. Davis. So, Team 361 was formed with five members all over 60. This will be the topic of a future BlogSpot, with photos. But, let’s just say it was great fun and amusement.

The most frequently discussed topic was the Montgomery Fire Rescue Department (MFR). In our nearly quarter century of Challenge Championships, no one has come close to providing the infrastructure and amenities associated with this event.

And, if you missed this year, you missed an experience that you will live to regret. With over 600 competitors, from more than one dozen countries, 29 states and 7 Canadian provinces, perfect weather, perfect live streaming and a host of World Records, shelter provided for those who did not bring their pop-ups, refreshments and snacks and an incredible Lion’ Den, the bar has been set way, way high.

The modern day version of the bucket brigade: MFR stockpiles water for the competitors on Thursday with more excitement and amenities to come. 

The Kuwaiti Oil Company team presented the Challenge Road Crew with a plaque that will find a conspicuous place in our office. 

Kuwaiti Oil Company’s Appreciation Letter for the experience of World Challenge XXIV

Thursday, October 22, 2015

WCXXIV Day Three- Montgomery- Longest Standing WR Falls to Ryan Fitzgerald

Back in 2001, in an off-the-record, private conversation, Bob Russell of the Overland Park, KS FD remarked that he was going to put the World Record so far out there that no one could touch it. True to his word, that year at WCX on Mudd Island in Memphis, he posted an astonishing 1:19.2.

On Wednesday, October 21 in Montgomery, AL, Ryan Fitzgerald of IAFF Local 571/Lakeland (Minnesota) did what had been impossible for neigh on 14 years- a new WR to the delight of the thousands of spectators who were waiting for this day.

His 1:17.51 is the new standard that the hundreds of Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge Competitors will now chase.
Ryan Fitzgerald, Current World Record Holder at press conference with Mayor Todd Strange, Montogmery, Alabama

In this space, we’ll bring you more video, photos and a compelling interview of Ryan.

And, there were other WRs that were set on this day as well. The Website has been updated to reflect those accomplishments.

After 3 days, there’s only 10 seconds that separate the top 7 teams. Talk about close!

On a more mundane topic, the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge is the only public safety, or military sport that does testing for banned substances. We are rightfuly proud of this fact. We choose to do this, despite the complexities and costs because we believe that our sport deserves it.

Specimen collection station for testing of banned substances

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WCXXIV Montgomery Day Two: Blink and You Missed It

Preceding this week’s event has been an enormous amount of preparation and publicity, not the least of which is the Sunday newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser. You cannot purchase the front page, but we dominate it. 

Then, there’s been the daily feeds provided by the local NBC affiliate and Fox News’ coverage of what’s happening here in the deep South. 

Of course, much of the excitement stems from the interest in the hometown team. 

So today, all eyes were turned to the Blue course, where Montgomery was feeling the heat. The World Record (WR) for the Relay of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge was set last year at the Sprint Cup NASCAR event held at the PIR (Phoenix International Raceway). 

Their time was 1:07.22. 

This year, the Team was on track for a new WR in Farmer’s Branch, Texas, site of the US Nationals two weeks ago, when the Anchor Leg, Jake Lanier went down with the Rescue Randy mannequin, a 175 pound, anatomically correct training dummy. Only 50 feet separated the team from glory when the proverbial “carpet snake” snatched the victory. You can view that run at [].

Mike Mederios, veteran competitor from Horry County (SC), arguably the premier student of relay ergonomics had calculated after watching hundreds of game films, that 1:05 was the proverbial sound barrier. His unchallenged statistics were proven correct today, here in Montgomery when the clock stopped at 1:05.6. 

“In this business, 2 seconds is huge,” said Dr. Paul Davis, Challenge Creator. 

Lanier was vindicated and the entire squad lauded by the energized crowd of hundreds of firefighters from 14 nations, 29 states and 7 Canadian provinces. 

The live stream is being carried daily around the globe, through Thursday at in full HD. The video of the run is in production and will be uploaded this evening. 

We are working on editing the run as seen from both the drone as well as the land-based camera shots. The story, as carried by WSFA can be seen here.

Friday, and Saturday the Championship coverage will be provided by ESPN3- viewable with any of the smart phone apps.

The view of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge course from the Embassy Suites

Wednesday, the competition continues with more “Wild Card trials” where teams and individuals vie for the slots that will be available on Friday and Saturday. 

WCXXIV- Montgomery, Day One

Welcome sign as seen in the Atrium of the Embassy Suites, our host hotel
Off the charts! This city has pulled out all the stops to make everyone feel welcome and provide all our athletes with the best possible experience.

It starts at the airport and it’s everywhere that you look, such as the atrium of the host hotel

Welcome signs abound. Before first light on Monday morning, local TV is on the scene doing a feature, promoting the event.

We’ll add more signs with each daily report.

While we typically don’t hold a formal Opening Ceremony until Relay Day, the honor guard from Maxwell Air Force Base presented the colors.

“Good Help is Hard to Find”

But, in Montgomery, it’s built into the program. There were 19 cadets in their all-red PT gear on the scene and looking fit. It’s great to see a workforce in training that looks the part- right from the Get-Go! They will get a shot at running the relay event later in the week.
These 19 Cadets are getting the ring-side view of the World-Class Athletes of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge 
TV production under the able direction of Maria Prekeges, a regular feature at our World Challenge events started off right on time. We’re streaming world wide with an audience representative of the 13 countries present.

Of special note, the presentation of an impressive plaque from the Kuwait Oil Company’s first responders to the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge crew.

The Kuwaiti Contingent presents the Road Crew of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge with a memorial plaque

We’ll provide more daily coverage, so keep checking in on the BlogSpot and look for our Newsletters in your email in-box.