Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Count Down to WCXX

The purpose of this BlogSpot is to get out in front of the questions that typically arise before, during and after the World Challenge. If this is your first World Challenge event, congratulations! If you’re returning, welcome back. After last year’s highly successful competition, we’re following our format for last year. The Wildcard Eliminations start without fanfare at 9AM (0900 EST), Monday through Thursday, November 14-17.

The Venue: Broadway at the Beach
All of the activity will take place on the parking lot at Broadway at the Beach. The landmark is the Hard Rock Cafe. We have rotated the orientation of the tower by 180°. This will provide even sunlight and reduce shadows. The Keiser Force Machines now have heated trays, thereby eliminating any differences in the coefficient of friction caused by temperature. This system has been in use for the season and has expunged complaints about red versus blue side differences. There is ample room for “camping out” with your pop-up and lawn chairs. This is one of the huge benefit over Las Vegas- a topic that I will address in an upcoming Blog.

Rule Change: Finish Standing
There is a rule change since last year on hand-held timing. Competitors are required to finish standing up. They must stop the clock by dragging the feet of the Rescue Randy® across the threshold. Lunging backwards is a dangerous and highly discouraged practice. It also damages the SCBA units and tears the carpets. And most importantly, it does not get you a faster time since it is the position of the dummy’s feet and not the torso of the Competitor that counts. Subsequently, we implemented a penalty of 2 seconds to be added to the Competitor’s time when a Competitor fails to stop the clock. Everyone that has ever been involved in a sprint sport knows that lunging or jumping interrupts terminal velocity.

Benefits of a Controlled Race
This has had an immediate benefit in reducing the number of finish line crashes and the associated ambiguities as to who actually won the race (i.e., we no longer have to have a conference of officials to look at hand-held stop watches to decide an outcome). Since its inception, the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge® has had in place the same timing paradigm and technology for measuring races. In an attempt to promote a safer playing field and consistency across all the nationalities that are licensed to conduct competitions, we will appreciate your cooperation and adherence to the protocol of running under control. Clayton County, who broke the World Record with a blistering 1:07, finished standing and even put the dummy on the transporter cart. If that doesn’t validate what I’m saying, then I don’t know what else will convince you. Well, actually the 2-second penalty might do it.

Wildcard Eliminations
The Eliminations have become highly competitive. While we like to boast that this is “The Toughest Two-Minutes in Sports™” the fact is that you’ll need a time significantly faster than two minutes to make it in the open category on the final day. An oft-heard complaint is directed at teams that make it with people who are significantly slower than two minutes. Our clear preference is directed to qualifying teams on the basis of their fastest three times. Everyone on that team is treated equally; they all get a pass. Historically, individuals who were predicted to have their time counted in the top three have had a bad run, resulting in a fourth member of the team contributing his time. Just as all members of the World Series team earn a ring, so likewise do the members of the winning team. Please don’t gripe about this structure. Get a team together and you can likewise collectively earn a spot on the final day. Simply stated, we just don’t have enough slots for everyone that’s sub-whatever to race on the final day. We have opened up sufficient individual slots to ensure that there is a fair representation within all the categories to guarantee that even a person not on a team has a chance to take first place.

International Growth
It is our quest to create a truly international competition. I cannot say with certainty how long it will take to achieve critical mass of say, 25 nations fielding teams, but ultimately, the World Challenge will be comprised of only one team from each country. The event may also move to another continent. And what is now the World Challenge will become the US Nationals. Until that day, we afford our foreign visitors byes into the final round because they have earned these slots through competition in their native land. This is difficult for some Competitors to accept as they feel that the final day should be based solely on merit, and not based upon the country of origin. We subscribe to the Olympic model, even at this early stage of our competition. If we want more foreign teams- and we do, then this is a reasonable concession. To this end, we opened up the number of US slots so as not to deprive the truly outstanding athletes an opportunity to compete. The practical reality is that we can’t run an 8-hour competition. Next year, we will be holding events in Germany, Canada, France, Austria, Brazil, New Zealand and Slovenia. All of these competitions welcome you. We hope that you’ll appreciate the hospitality and camaraderie that is extended by this rapidly expanding international brotherhood.

The March On
There will be a formal march on of all the states, provinces and countries on the last day (Saturday). We will play the national anthem of the host nation only. This not meant as a slight to any person or peoples; but from a practical and protocol perspective, we will follow Olympic traditions.

This year will be providing a professionally produced Livestream broadcast. Last year we had over 25,000 viewers with no promotion other than word of mouth. You’ll be able to watch live- on your computer every day’s activities including post race interviews and analyses. Lion is the presenting sponsor and we extend our thanks to them and our other sponsors for making this possible. This will be of great benefit as you’ll have a sense as to where we are in the start order by viewing the home page. A word of warning, however. You are still responsible for showing up on time. Not unlike the Olympics, we have had to disqualify people for being no-shows.

In Summary...
I trust that this information is of benefit. I also hope that the people who need to read this will avail themselves of the opportunity to realize that there is a bigger purpose behind the growth of the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge than to satisfy everyone’s ego.

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