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‘Toughest two minutes in sports’ brings firefighters from around the world to Sacramento

Here’s why firefighters compete in ‘infectious’ world combat challenge

Sacramento is hosting the Firefighter World Combat Challenge in October 2018. The event challenges firefighters in full gear to complete an intense obstacle course laden with weights, stairs, fire hoses and mannequins. Here's why they do it.
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Sacramento is hosting the Firefighter World Combat Challenge in October 2018. The event challenges firefighters in full gear to complete an intense obstacle course laden with weights, stairs, fire hoses and mannequins. Here's why they do it.

This week, Sacramento is hosting the 27th annual Firefighter World Combat Challenge. This competition, billed by ESPN as the “toughest two minutes in sports,” challenges firefighters in full gear to complete an intense obstacle course laden with weights, stairs, fire hoses and mannequins.

Nearly 500 firefighters from all over the world will race for the best time, said Challenge founder Paul Davis. He estimated that during the competition the course – set up on 10th Street, right in front of the Capitol building – would be run over a thousand times.

Firefighters from 12 countries and all over the U.S. will compete in qualifying rounds in order to make it to the championships on Friday and Saturday, Davis said.

Challengers can compete individually, in a tandem race with a partner or in a relay with a team of up to five people.

Challengers are split into classes according to age and gender, Davis said, and 150 medals total will be awarded at the end of the championships to the top three of each class in each of the three types of race.

The goal is just to complete the course – but the faster it’s done, the better. Almost all of the obstacles on the course require the firefighters to carry weight; over the course of a single run, competitors carry over 300 pounds of fire hose and drag a 175-pound mannequin across the finish line, said Davis.

The world record holder, Ian Van Reenen of Oakville Fire in Ontario, Canada, finished in just one minute and 14 seconds, according to the Challenge’s website.

The public is invited to watch the competition for free. Qualifiers run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and the championships start at noon Friday and at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The Challenge also offers a livestream of the competition through its website.

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