Monday, April 11, 2011

The Human Limits of a World Record

In the very early years of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge, the two minute barrier seemed to be daunting. Could someone actually break two minutes? In the context of a historical sports event, it seemed to be up there with the four minute mile. As an ingenue sport, Challenge competitors brought their personal experience in athletics to the competition. Almost everyone had participated in organized sport at the high school or collegiate level.

Training was not a foreign concept, but specificity of training was not widely practiced. For example, pulling a Honda up a hill with a shoulder harness was one unique modality. If you were an endurance athlete, like a cyclist, then that was what you knew best and how you trained. Traditional strength training had a lot of followers, with the mistaken belief that getting stronger would somehow convert into becoming faster. When adding 75 pounds to a PR failed to evoke a change on the course, a lot of competitors started to re-examine their workouts.

Today, top competitors have scientific regimens prepared by kinesiologists and personal trainers- all the amenities found at the Olympics or other world-class competitions. Rest, and active rest have assumed importance in the workout cycle. Breaking down the components into splits allows athletes to determine where they are relative to being on a PR pace and when they need to break off training to allow recovery.

Answering the question, “What are the human limits of a near perfect run?” comes the introspective analysis of Mike Mederios, team captain of Horry County. Mike, using data from the best of the best splits created a theoretical perfect storm. Here are the splits, based upon the Relay. The relay was originally conceived as a way of determining how fast the course could be run if every event was completed at terminal velocity.

Tower ascent: 12 seconds
Hose Hoist: 5.8 seconds
Tower Descent: 10.88 seconds
Forcible Entry: 7 seconds
Hydrant Run: 9.9 seconds
Hose Advance: 7.8 seconds
Victim Rescue: 12 seconds
Total Time: 1:05.38

The current World Record (WR) Relay time held by Clayton County (GA) is a stunning 1:07.74. Bob Russell’s (Overland Park, KS) single run of 1:19.02, now 10 years old continues to be the speed chimera. The conditions at this year’s venue will be near perfect. A flat platform with excellent foot traction. Weather and wind cooperating. Now, with a heated tray, you have a constant coefficient of friction on the Keiser Force Machine. Could this be the year? There’s a lot of time between now and November 18. The tension builds.

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