Nelson firefighter off to take on the world

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If you see a firefighter in full kit running up and down the Tamaki St steps over the next few months, there’s no need to panic, it’s just Haydn Parker training for the “toughest two minutes of sport”.

Haydn is a professional firefighter in Nelson and is training hard for the World Firefighter Combat Challenge in the United States later this year.

It will be Haydn’s third trip to the states for the challenge, but the first time in six years. He says he’s been putting in plenty of training already and that he’s feeling fitter than ever.

“It’s been six years since I last raced and I’m six years older, but I definitely feel like I’m in better shape and I wouldn’t be going all the way to America if I didn’t think I could achieve the goal.”

The challenge sees two firefighters race each other up six flights of stairs while carrying a 20kg hose. Then, when they get to the top, they lift another 20kg hose up via a rope, then run back down and hit a “kaiser force machine”, in which contestants have to hit a 75kg beam 1.5 metres with a 4kg mallet. Then run in and out of small fire hydrants, pick up a hose and drag it for 22 metres, and then through saloon doors and use the water from the hose to hit a target. Finally, contestants pick up an 82kg dummy and drag it 30 metres to cross the finish line.

Haydn says around 800 firefighters from all over the world will attend the champs, which are dubbed the “toughest two minutes of sport”.

“They say that because if you do it in two minutes you’re doing well because it’s so full on, so intense.”

Last time Haydn competed his best time was 1 minute and 41 seconds, an agonising two seconds off reaching the exclusive “Lion’s Den” club for those who compete it in under 1 minute 40 seconds.

“They give you a gold coin with a lion’s head on it and they present you with an American varsity jacket, they’re real big on it.”

The event also has team and tandem races and Haydn says his team is made up of fire fighters from Wellington, Auckland and Tauranga.

He says the biggest problem for his training is Nelson’s lack of high-rise buildings.

“The best I’ve got is Tamaki St steps to get my stair work in. But that is pretty brutal.”

The challenge is in Montgomery, Alabama, in October this year, Haydn is trying to raise some money to help him get there.

He says he’s already had support from Russell and Andrea Coburn from Spark Digital, but would love some more.

If you’re keen to help, email [email protected]