Southbridge firefighter Steven Maw has taken the National Firefighter Combat Challenge by storm, overtaking the favorites to become the National Champion for the first time in Wellington in late March. Going into the UFBA National Firefighter Combat Challenge, his official time was 1:56.05, recorded at the South Island event earlier this year. He didn’t just beat his personal best – he shattered it, finishing at a remarkable 1:46.43.
Matched up against Dean Southey from Greytown – who ran just over 1:58 in the North Islands – 22-year-old Maw knew he had to be focussed to take and maintain the lead in the second-to-last race of the Challenge. After his run, all he could do was sit and watch in suspense – hoping his time would be enough to win - as defending champion Hayden Kinzett of Royal New Zealand Airforce and Shaun Higginson of Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade raced in the final run of the competition.
“Shaun had set a fast time in the North Islands and Hayden is incredibly fast on a bad day,” said Maw. “I was watching the guys run with one eye and watching the clock with the other eye. I saw the clock roll over from 1:46 to 1:47 and everyone around me cheered. It was a truly awesome feeling.”
So how did he shave ten seconds off his time in just a few months? “Having run South Islands a month before was the key for me. It seemed to make my body ready for what was about to happen at Wellington,” he said. “I knew if I got my head in the right space and had a stress-free warm up, I could knock a bit of:time off – my goal was to go under the 1:50 mark. Winning the tandem with my brother, Hamish, the day before had me excited and wanting to run.”
Competing with his brother and father has made the event even more special and enjoyable for Maw. He started running the tandem event with Hamish a few years ago, and his father, Wayne, joined the Maw team soon after for three-man relays.
“Not many people can say they are in the same sports team with their brother and dad. Having Hamish run good times makes me train and run faster – it comes back to the brotherly rivalry, I guess.”
Maw is quick to acknowledge that he didn’t get so far on his own, and has many people to thank: “Thank you to the UFBA for making the event work so well, to Team Hobbit for helping me train, the Southbridge brigade for the support they give our team. And thank you to Tom Reid, Warren Maslin, and the Lincoln team for helping us train.”
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