Myrtle Beach hosts firefighter combat challenge

If you want to get in good shape, you can run sprints, lift weights or climb stairs. Or, you can be a firefighter and do all three of those within two minutes time.

The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge is being held in Myrtle Beach this week.

It's a competition that pushes firefighters to their physical limits, performing activities that simulate real-world firefighting tasks.

The firefighters competing in the event have to drag a 42 pound hose all the way up to the top of the tower, then hoist another 42-pound hose to the top, run back down and slam a sledgehammer into a beam, drag a hose about 75 feet and fire water at a target and then pull a 175-pound mannequin backwards about 100 feet, all while wearing full firefighting gear and working against the clock.

No wonder it's called the toughest two minutes in sports.

"It's grueling," said Toronto, Canada firefighter Andrew Verhoeven. "It's a really mental grind when you're finishing in there."

So that must means the competitors are all big, burly guys who look like weightlifters, right? Well, no.

"It's tough, especially if you're vertically challenged," said Christine Berry, who's on the Horry County Fire Rescue women's team. "It's tough being short, having less upper body strength, so that's why we train."

There's no question the course is a tough challenge for any firefighter, male or female, but Berry said women get no special treatment.

"It's the exact same job, the exact same weight. You have to be able to do it regardless of your size, your weight or what you can lift."

Hundreds of firefighters from as far away as Chile and South Africa are here to compete against each other and against themselves.

"At the end of the day you're trying to beat your personal time, so you want the best person to win and that's the way it is," said Verhoeven. "So you're rooting for that other person to get their best time as well as you getting your best time."

They compete to improve their abilities on the job and because, believe it or not, the competitors say this unbelievably tough competition is fun.

To find out how you can help, click here. The firefighter combat challenge needs volunteers and donations of water.