Monday, March 10, 2014

Another season finished, and an amazing State Championships

This past season was rather unusual.  After my early success in December, it got tough actually being able to compete.  Due to an unusually hot summer and severe fire conditions, a number of competitions were cancelled.  We had one in late January with good results, then the next was in mid February.  Unfortunately, a groin injury 3 days early put me out.  I barely managed to run my first event, then was rested for the day.  I spent the rest of the day as a judge, making aure the other runs were completed properly and disqualifying teams that didn't do the part I was judging within the rules.  The following week was the junior state championships.  I went away with the kids, as one of the judges for the weekend and enjoyed being an official.

Another week later was our last competition before the state chapionships.  By this time, my groin had healed and I was back in action. Had another reasonably successful meet.

This weekend just past was the State Championships for 2014.  This year it was held here in Bendigo, so there was no need to deal with travel and accommodation.  I have stepped up and was in a total of 10 events, which is up from the 6 events of previous years, or all but two of the events that we run.

Many of the events have been explained previously, do here's the summary.  Saturday was a bit of a tough day.  Didn't manage to get through any hears in the ladder race or C section hose and reel 4s.  However, that would change dramatically on Sunday.  First event was the pumper and ladder 5s, which we won with our best run ever.  Next was the 2 man marshall, which was a bit rough and we didn't place.

The third event for the day was the hose and reel sixes.  This is the first year we have run this event.  It's another one using the hand drawn hose reel.  In this event, two lengths of hose are carried down and unwound after the hydrant.  The disc is hit with water from the first length, and the second length is brought back to the hydrant, coupled on (often while the water is turned on fully!) and the disc is hit again with the second length.  My job is to pull the card down to where the end of the first length flies, then help the second coupler get the second length back to the hydrant.   Our run wasn;t bad for our 4th one in a competition, but not good enough to get through our heat.

After that was the pumper 4s.  I hadn't often run this event previously, but this time I was running on the hydrant.  Had to set the hydrant, help couple the hose on, then signal to the pump operator that I was turning the water on, while actually turning it on.  Our run wasn't bad, but not good enough for a place.

The last event for the day was the Y8.  I ran the same position as last year - pole (pulling the cart), assisting the third length back, and ladder.  This turned out to be our best run at this event ever, and was good enough for a third place! :)

Today (Monday) we started with the hose and ladder 5s.  Our run was good, but just missed out on a place on the day.  In previous years it would have placed.  Next was the 4 man Y, where we missed out on a place by 0.02 of a second!  Last event was the Champion 4s, which is an open event (all sections).  We happened to draw against one of the top A section sides, who easily beat us.  But they ended up coming third, so it was a tough draw!

Anyway, to sum it up, it was a fantastic and successful weekend.  I have had the experience of being in a winning C section team back in 1986, but this one, despite only being 6th overall) was sweeter, because I had a hand in our victories this time around, rather than being a minor player.

Just finished up a celebration at a local pub - a few drinks with both of our teams, coaches and some others from the fire brigade and partners, etc.  Was a great evening, good to recap a fantastic weekend.  The guys (and girls!) are a great bunch of people.  We talked about a lot of things, including the uniqueness of our sport - both the extraordinary precision with which we must work, and the fine line between pulling off something awesome and having things go totally wrong, especially when trying to push the envelope.

Sadly, words and even videos don't do our sport justice.  I was hooked as a kid after I was taken to a state championships by Dad when I was 6.  People I've taken or invited to the track have been impressed or even amazed at what they've seen.  If you're ever around these parts when there's an urban fire brigades championships on, especially the State championships), do yourself a favour and take a look.