By Ty O’Neil
The Atlantis is hosting the Firefighter Combat Challenge this weekend. Competitors came from across the country for an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Nationals competition.
The competitive course consisted of multiple obstacles, including a stair climb while carrying a 42-lb. weight up five stories by rope and sledgehammering a 100-plus lb. steel sled down a metal track.
The opening on Friday was media versus media in a relay race, which gave press members an opportunity to experience what the competitors would be going through.
I was chosen to be the sprinter, a job I took so seriously I accidentally ran past the first turn at full speed and had to be turned around, still at full speed.
Other competitors also missed the first corner and were penalized four seconds. While we ran in athletic comfortable clothing, the firemen would be competing in full firefighting equipment, including air tanks.
Truckee Meadows Fire Department and Washoe County Sheriff’s SWAT Team would face off in what proved to be a very close race, but the fire department would be the victor. Atlantis staff would also battle it out in an inter-departmental face-off. In the end, the “Purple Cobras” would take the title of Atlantis staff champions.
After the national anthem, competitors ran the course by themselves, competing for the best time. A favorite was Ryan Fitzgerald, who was the fastest during Friday’s competition.
Competitors pushed themselves often beyond their limits, collapsing at the finishing line. Volunteers would help strip off the heavy and hot firefighting apparatus while supporting competitors under each arm. At least one participant was given an IV drip after their run.
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.