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Toughest two minutes in sports

Local firefighters take world combat challenge
By: Jamie Trump, The Telegraph
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In the time it takes most people to brush their teeth, a group of Sacramento area firefighters took fifth place in the world during the Firefighter Combat Challenge held Dec. 3. Two of the competitors were Folsom firefighters. At the sound of an alarm, the fierce competition required the men - each clad in 60-plus pounds of gear - to race up six flights of stairs while carrying a bundle of hose. At the top, the men had to use rope to hoist a 45-pound hose roll to the top of the tower before racing back down. They then had to move a 165-pound chunk of steel 5 feet using a rubber mallet, shimmy through an obstacle course and drag a charged hose about 75 feet, then a 185-pound dummy about 100 feet across the finish line. Most competitors finish the task in around 2 minutes; that's why the challenge has been called the toughest two minutes in sports. "Takes most people 15 minutes to recover when they're done," said Folsom Capt. Clint Madden, 38, who completed the task in 1 minute, 37 seconds. It took his co-worker, engineer Martin Odestig, 33, three seconds less. Believe it or not, these impressive times earned their five-man team fifth place in the world; third in the nation. Pretty impressive, considering they competed against 1,500 teams from across Europe, the United States and Canada. "A few years ago the 2-minute mark was incredible. If you broke 2 minutes it was a world record," Madden said. "The fastest time this year was 1 minute, 26 seconds." Sounds tough, but Madden, who has participated in the competition since 1995, believes it's possible. "We've been a top 5 team for the last three years," Madden said. "We basically took second in every regional competition we went to this year." It's the 14th time a Sacramento group has qualified for the finals. "It's really an aerobic event," said Odestig, who lifts weights, swims and mountain bikes to stay in shape. He also plays in the Guns and Hoses football game, an annual competition in which area cops compete against firefighters. Last year Odestig was named the Hoses' most valuable player. As head wrestling coach at Del Oro High School, Madden stays in shape year-round. "To be good at (the combat challenge) requires a lot of strength; a lot of aerobic strength," he said. "You have to be in extreme cardiovascular shape and be extremely strong." Along with their teammates - Sacramento Metro firefighter Jeremy Crawford and captains Walt White and Kevin Wegener - the team trains nine months out of the year. They're set to start training next month for this year's event. Folsom firefighters believe they will be ready for the demanding tryouts by the end of the year. They have been on the Sacramento team more times than not. "I remember Placer Hills had a team one time, a few guys from Placer County have been on the team ... but typically the team is made up of Folsom guys," Madden said.