Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!


Print Comment RSS


Editor's Note
by Rick Markley, editor-in-chief

Courage and Valor: My 5k run in turnouts

While this was not the longest distance I've done in bunkers, it was by far the hottest day

By Rick Markley, FR1 Editor-in-chief

I've been a recreational runner most of my adult life. I've been a volunteer firefighter for the past three years.

I've done a few running events now in partial turnout gear — helmet, coat, pants and sometimes gloves. The most recent was last week's Courage and Valor 5K (3.2 miles) at FDIC.

The first time I ran in bunkers, I did it simply to see if I could. That first time taught me a few things: it is a good deal more difficult than imagined, the American-style firefighting helmet is poorly balanced for jogging, and people really take notice of someone running in turnout gear.

After the neck pain from that first run subsided, I was left with the nagging thought of what it meant to be running in turnouts. Just exactly what was I trying to say?

What does it mean?
I hope I was not just showing off, because that's not a side of myself I particularly like. I've seen firefighters run full marathons and ascend 100-story buildings via the stairwells in full turnout gear, SCBA and all — my little run was no great feat of athleticism.

Neither did I have a particular firefighter or fire charity that I was honoring or drawing attention to.

What it boiled down to is that firefighting is hard. It is hard physically, mentally and emotionally. Frankly, there's not a day I don't question whether or not I'm up to the task.

So I ran other races in turnouts with the hope that the civilian runners would stop thinking about how difficult their run was and think about how difficult it is to be a firefighter. By the encouragements that I heard along the way, I believe that many do get the point.

But there were few if any "civilian runners" at the FDIC run. So what was the point?

And honestly, I'm not sure I had anything to prove; I simply wanted to do it. But, like that first race I did learn a few things.

Lessons of a hot day
While this was not the longest distance I've done in bunkers, it was by far the hottest day — maybe mid 70s. That last mile was damned difficult.

I learned that I really needed those shouts of encouragement from those along the coarse. I really wanted to stop, walk for a while and unzip my coat to let some of the heat out. So, thank you to those who gave me that push I needed to not stop.

I also learned that I need to take my fitness more serious. I finished somewhere around 30 minutes, a little longer than you can get from a bottle of air.

But I wasn't busting my butt for 30 minutes. I wasn't dragging a heavy charged line around a maze of interior walls.

I was clipping along at an even pace with no danger, no adrenaline and less extra weight. And yet, that that last mile was damned difficult, difficult enough that I considered stopping for a rest.

Running in turnouts won't make the public vote for a fire district tax to keep a department fully staffed, but it is a nice public relations tool that builds some good will in the community.

For me, it also is a stark reminder of how more prepared I need to be for firefighting, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.



Comments
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FireRescue1.com or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.

FireRescue1 Offers



Connect with FireRescue1

Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google+