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Firefighters proud of efforts at world combat challenge

BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW scott@northernlife.

It took courage, heart, determination, and most of all, stamina, but local firefighters Jimmy Kolar and Ron Hache,
51, were up to the challenge at a world-class fitness challenge and walked away with impressive results.

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Greater Sudbury firefighters Ron Hache, 51, and Jimmy Kolar, 41, have proved they can compete against the world?s best in the popular combat challenge. Both men finished sixth in their age division.
Kolar and Hache were two of five local firefighters (Rick Landry, Craig McPhee and Dave Fortier were the others) to compete in the World Firefighter Combat Challenge Championships in Ottawa from Nov. 4-8.

Both men, who were born and raised in Greater Sudbury, made a huge impact against 500-plus firefighters from across North America.

The firefighter challenge has been called ?the toughest two minutes in sports? and you won?t get any disagreement from Hache and Kolar.

The event includes carrying a heavy hose up five floors. From there, they have to haul another roll of hose using a hand-over-hand motion up the five flights, then use a mallet to drive a 165-pound I-beam five feet. Then they have to run 140 feet around an obstacle course, pick up a charged hose, move it forward 75 feet, crack the nozzle and hit a target. The most excruciating part of the challenge is left for the very end. Competitors have to run another 30 feet and drag a 175-pound dummy a distance of 100 feet to the finish line.

This is all done wearing 60 pounds of firefighter gear.

With the same enthusiasm they use to tackle their jobs here in the Nickel City, Kolar and Hache managed to make the qualifying cut of 134 competitors for the final day.

In the finals, both men proved their worth with Kolar capturing sixth place in the over-40 category with a time of 1:39.25 and Hache grabbing another sixth-place finish in the over-50 category with a time of 2:10.39.

Because of their outstanding performances both men were inducted into the Lion?s Den, an elite fraternity of competitors established to recognize individuals who have achieved a certain level of performance within the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Both firefighters received a plaque of recognition and an official Lion?s Den jacket.

The experience left both men feeling great about themselves.

Kolar was satisfied with his finish.

?Last year I finished eleventh and this year I was hoping to make the top three,? said Kolar. ?I trained all year to
be two seconds faster, so it shows just how much time and effort you have to put into this event.?

Kolar was most impressed with a 57-year-old firefighter from Florida, who was competing at the challenge.

?He had cancer last year and yet he was there competing hard this year,? said Kolar. ?To see him doing the competition was really amazing.?

Kolar enjoyed the time when he received his Lion?s Den jacket.

?You?re being honoured and you?re in the spotlight,? said Kolar. ?It was something special.?

Hache was also hoping to crack the top three, but is still happy with his result.

?It was my first world event and after seeing the competition, I was happy with my finish,? said Hache. ?I am hoping what I learned this year, I can apply to next year and crack the top three.?

Hache relished his time on the final day of competition.

?On the final day, I was against a firefighter from the United States and he and I talked for about five minutes before the race,? said Hache. ?He had experience at this level and he was giving me advice about how to run a better race. The camaraderie among the firefighters is great.?

The whole experience was beneficial.

?The long-term effect is that it motivates you to stay in shape and it gives you more confidence on the job,? said Hache. ?You also get to talk to firefighters from across North America and exchange ideas, which is always good.?

Both men are already thinking about and training for next year?s national event and world competition. The nationals will be in Sherbrooke, Quebec and the worlds will be in Las Vegas, Nevada.

?We want to win nationals again next year and go hard at the world competition,? said Hache. ?You?re always
looking to improve on what you did the previous year.?


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