The Firefighter Combat Challenge 2016 season got off to an early start, with the first of the three annual events held on 5 December in Westport.
New competitors from Rolleston were still smiling at the end of an epic day. From left: Pete Savage, Rick Coburn, Sarah Lilley, Bruce Moffat, Carl Dierck, Callen Saunders, Rob Eggers
There has been debate about the time of year and the location for the South Island event, but the weather stayed true and competitor numbers were in line with what we expected.
With 51 individuals competing across the range of disciplines, we had close to a full day’s worth of competition.
Westport a great location
Westport were fantastic hosts, working hard to ensure the rain stayed away, the track was laid out in plenty of time and everyone was fed and watered.
The effort they put in to making sure the show went well was greatly appreciated by all.
With a little bit of damp in the air, there were no record breaking times. With a massive 27 competitors new to the Challenge, it was not surprising no one could catch Steven Maw and the Canterbury teams.
Steven took first place title for the Open Male, but we had some surprises with a number of first time competitors ranking in the top three of their category - showing great levels of fitness and raw determination.
First timers shine
First time competitor and newly appointed UFBA Vice President Alan Kittelty ranked third in the Over 40 Men’s category and 10th overall.
Alan and his tandem partner Hayley Rossiter also took out first place in the Co-ed Tandem category.
Hayley was also a first timer and shined in the Open Women’s competition where she took first place, followed closely by Kim Holmes and another newbie, Jude Patterson of Lawrence.
We were thrilled to see so many new competitors succeed.
All competitors finished their chosen discipline on time - this shows a great improvement in everyone’s fitness.
It’s encouraging to have a 50% growth in the Challenge, which is attracting more and more competitors each year.
A supportive family
Warren Maslin, accepting certificates both for himself (1st in the Over 40s and 2nd in Open Male) and for Southbridge, spoke of the overwhelming sense of family and belonging the Challenge had.
He welcomed all the new competitors to this supportive family group of firefighters.
Warren also acknowledged the UFBA for their commitment to the Challenge and said the decision to move the Island Challenges around different locations was a good one, particularly if we continue to see a great level of growth in high quality and keen competitors.
Future Challenge format
UFBA is committed to making sure everyone enjoys the opportunity to compete in the Firefighter Combat Challenge and will continue to move the Regional level competitions around.
That’s not to say we won’t revisit some of our old favourites and friends - but we would like to open the doors for better access to the Otago Southland and Nelson Marlborough regions and the Upper North Island.
Timing of Challenges
We have given much consideration to the time of year when the Firefighter Combat Challenge should take place.
Some would like it in the months leading up to the Worlds, in September/October, even though the weather may not be that great for this outdoor event.
Whereas others would like it in the more weather favourable months at the beginning of the year.
We need to carefully balance the time commitments of our Officials along with the other eight Challenge events.
The UFBA is interested in the opinions of our competitors and Officials and we will send out a one-question survey soon to determine what the majority would like.
This will help us plan long-term strategies for this and other events.
However, it’s safe to assume the Firefighter Combat Challenge is growing from strength to strength and is here to stay in its current format of a three event annual programme.
“The Combat Challenge for me was about developing skills, strengths and confidence which I can take back to my training nights to allow our brigade to function at its full potential. The comradeship at the Combat Challenge was uplifting. Nobody ever fails.”
Jude Patterson, Lawrence Volunteer Fire Brigade
See the results of the South Island event in Westport ...
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