Canadian Firefighter Magazine

FireFit feat

By James Careless   

Features Fitness Health and Wellness

Graham MacKenzie and his FireFit teammates from the Kamloops Fire Department in British Columbia wanted revenge. Over the summer, rival team from New Brunswick beat the world record set by the crew from Kamloops and the B.C. team wanted the No. 1 spot back.

Graham MacKenzie and his FireFit teammates from the Kamloops Fire Department in British Columbia wanted revenge. Over the summer, rival team from New Brunswick beat the world record set by the crew from Kamloops and the B.C. team wanted the No. 1 spot back.

Not ones to settle for anything less than perfection, the Kamloops team set a new world record at the national FireFit championships on Labour Day weekend in Brampton, Ont. at 4:00.20. MacKenzie took the record in the men’s Individual event at 1:15.94 and Kamloops beat Halifax in the relay with another record of 1:03.30.

Kamloops FireFit team members (left) Don Clarke, Graham MacKenzie, Scott Leslie and Mike Brown celebrate their victory in the team event with the best-three time of 4:00.20.

“ had taken our team world record at a regional event earlier this year, and we wanted it back,” MacKenzie says. “But we didn’t expect to set three world records in doing so, nor to have things go so well for us. It was really a storybook week for the Kamloops team.”

“It was a remarkable competition,” says FireFit president Dale McRoberts. “The top three finishers in the men’s individual were all faster than 1:17, which is mind-boggling.”

MacKenzie’s 1:15.94 victory in the men’s individual competition wasn’t just a world record, it was a gigantic improvement over his second-place finish last year at 1:18.20. “This is nearly three seconds faster,” says McRoberts. “Clearly, Graham MacKenzie is a guy who has got himself so big and strong that he is just hard to beat; even when up against the incredible field we have.”

MacKenzie credits his team’s rigorous training and excellent chemistry for its success in Brampton. Still, “The race before mine threw up some pretty good times, so I knew that I’d have to run faster than I ever had,” he says. “The thing about race results is they really are affected not just by your training, but how you feel when you wake up on race day: Do you have a sore back and headache, or do you feel good? I fortunately felt good; a bit anxious, but I think everyone feels that way on race day.”

Close behind MacKenzie in second place was Marcel Dupuis of the team at 1:16.12, beating the 1:17.60 time that won him first in the Atlantic Regional FireFit Championship earlier in the summer. Dupuis was followed by Ryan Hallam of the Fredericton Fire Department at 1:16.43 – up from his 2009 fourth place time of 1:20.03. Fourth place overall finisher and longtime competitor Darren Hillman of Windsor Fire & Rescue was also No. 1 in the over-40 category, with a time of 1:20.32.

Simon Robichaud of DND/MDN Canada CFFM No. 1 came in fifth at 1:20.98. Behind him was Louis Boiteau of the Hamilton Fire Department/Team Crossfit Ancaster at 1:21.00, Jack Bailey of Windsor Fire & Rescue at 1:21.43, and Joe Triff of Rivalus-Halifax Fire at 1:21.47. Triff also finished eight last year (1:20.03) but in 2007 and 2008, he came first. Locky Gelinas of Windsor Fire & Rescue was ninth at 1:21.62 and Claude Bélanger of École de Pompiers Québec CNDF was 10th at 1:21.76. Bélanger came in third last year with a time of 1:19.34.

Over-45 first place winner Mark Millward of the Delta Fire Department clocked a time of 1:26.88, putting him at 31st place overall. Over-50 winner Cyril Fraser of Halifax Regional Fire came in 91st overall at 1:39.83. And the over-55 top achiever, Brian Jones of the Belleville Fire Department, was ranked at 157th with a time of 01:57.56.

Last year’s world FireFit champion, Dwayne Drover of the Waterloo Fire Department, was ranked in 16th place at 1:23.35 after skipping a stair during the national event. Last year’s Canadian champion, Mike Gilbert of the St. Catharines Fire Department, did not compete this year. Gilbert won both the individual title and the over-40 title in 2009 with a time of 1:17.87, seven one-hundredths of a second better than his 2008 Canadian and world over-40 record.

Danielle Comolli of Toronto Fire Services was the fastest woman with a time of 2:13.63; putting her at 170th place in the overall standings. She beat 171st place and the No. 2 female, Jacqueline Rasenberg of York Region Fire, by just under two seconds; Rasenberg came in at 2:15.47.

“It felt really good to win this year, and it’s nice that the tables finally turned in my favour,” Comolli says. This is putting it mildly: Rasenberg took first place last year at 2:18.15; almost four seconds faster than Comolli’s second place time of 2:22.14. “Still, it wasn’t my best race of the year,” Comolli says. “I’ve been beating Jacqueline in races all summer. But when the gun went off at nationals, it seemed like I had left my brain at the starting line. I found myself running behind her, and only really caught up once we got to the hose drag. Once we got through the dummy pickup, I was ahead. I’ve always been very fast at this element.” Comolli expects to go head-to-head with Rasenberg at the worlds in Myrtle Beach in November, and isn’t taking anything for granted in preparing for that rematch.

In the team events, the Kamloops Fire Department fivesome of Graham MacKenzie, Don Clarke, Mike Brown, Scott Leslie and Mark Brise took the main event with the best-three-times total score of 4:00.20. Kamloops clearly outpaced Windsor Fire & Rescue, which came in second at 4:03.37, followed by at 4:30.93. At 4:08.59 in fourth place, Halifax Fire was not in the running. Thirty-four teams competed in this event – 33 male and one female (Toronto Fire Services). Oakville Team Levitt-Safety No. 1 (Darren Van Zandbergen, Shaun Henderson and Dave Walker) came in an impressive seventh with a total time of 4:21.04 in their inaugural year of competition.

Kamloops didn’t win everything.’s Dupuis and Jamie Richford grabbed first in the NGX Open at 1:23.8, beating Rivalus-Halifax Fire’s Mike Sear and Joe Triff (1:25.0) and Oakville No. 1’s Henderson and Van Zandbergen (1:29.9). “We had a bit of luck on our side,” says Dupuis. “But it didn’t hurt that our bottle exchange went quickly and easily. That helped us on time.”

The NGX Over-40 was taken by the Hamilton Fire Department Team Cash and Dash (1:39.1, Mike Cascioli and Dean Morrow), followed by Service Incendie Baie Comeau over 40 (1:43.5, Marco Beaulieu and Sylvain Ouellet) and the Quebec Nordique team (1:48.5, Carl Belanger and Luc Hamel).

The NXG Ladies’ first prize went to CFB Petawawa (2:40.1, Sara Lafreniere and Denise Townshend), followed by Ottawa Fire Ladies (2:49.2, Katie Hall and Genna McMillan) and Pinkalicious (3:04.7, Guylaine Boulay and Mary Shepard).

“This was another great year for the Scott FireFit Championships,” McRoberts says. “It was exciting, well attended and a time of change at the top. It will be fascinating to see how our best  stack up this November at the worlds in Myrtle Beach!”

“Our goal is to go there, compete and win,” laughs MacKenzie. “We always try to win. But we don’t focus on that: We just try and achieve personal bests, and hope that everything else works out.”

James Careless is an Ottawa-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly.

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