The toughest two minutes in sports

By By Jordan Gribble / Special to the American Press

The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge — held Friday and Saturday as part of Contraband Days — saw firefighters from across

America and Canada compete for a chance to qualify for national and world titles.

“I always get an extraordinary sense of

accomplishment whenever I finish the course,” said Cheri Ardoin,

president of the

Southwest Louisiana Firefighter’s Association. “Most people never

get to see firefighters doing their jobs, so this is a good

way for people to come out and see what we do.”

The competition grew from a scientific study of fitness and job performance done by Paul Davis, a former firefighter.

Competitors, wearing full gear, must haul a 42-pound pack up six flights of stairs and hoist a rolled fire hose to the top.

Back on the ground they must use a mallet to move a metal beam and then run to the opposite side of the course to wrangle

a 75-pound charged fire hose and spray a target. Competitors then grab a dummy and drag him to the finish line.

“This is incredibly demanding on the

body. It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever done,” said Justin

Beliveau, of Hattiesburg,

Miss. “Everything about it is pretty tough and whenever I finish

the course, I’m just as beat and just as nervous as the first

time I ever ran it.”

Participants said the physical strains

of the challenge are worth it because the obstacle course prepares them

for real emergencies.

“It certainly feels like I’m in a fire down here,” said Lindsay Ingram, a competitor from Winnipeg, Canada. “This challenge

is really the best way to get in shape for my actual job of firefighting.”