RexRex's Rap-up


OCTOBER 3RD & 4TH, 2003


Alas, all good things do really have to come to an end. We just start ripping through the country, back and forth, again and again. The CRUE gets into a total CHALLENGE groove and then just as quickly as it came, TOUR 03 is now history. How can you start or finish something as mon do as the CHALLENGE? It's an ongoing thing that goes year round back at the confines of the home base (BURTONSVILLE, MD). We live the CHALLENGE all spring and summer, and now it's championship time. Another year has come and gone on the road, and the CRUE can say that once more the CHALLENGE lives on through the hearts of the fellowship. But one last stop remained, one more time the course would test the best of the best and the bravest. The" TOUGHEST TWO MINUTES IN SPORTS" would play out in EL PASO, TEXAS at THE AMIGO AIRSHO. The CHALLENGE took its place among all manner of flying machines, and even a jet powered school bus, and FT. BLISS was the site for the season's final showdown. Thanks to both the EL PASO FD and FT. BLISS FD, as well as Chief Roberto Rivera (El Paso FD), Captain Don Mehl (El Paso FD), Chief Bill Cannedy (Ft. Bliss FD), and Suzie Azar, President of The Amigo AirSho, for bringing the CHALLENGE to EL PASO at the last minute and making our stay a great one. Teams from all across the country, as well as CANADA and MEXICO were all there to make the final stop an international event. Long live tour 03 and its last curtain call.
The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS saw some great teams like the BOMBEROS (JUAREZ, MEXICO) and tour favorites like SAM SQUAD, and the always great TRAVIS AFB, and of course the return of the FIRE FROS (EL PASO) dawning the fros for the first time on TOUR 03. A big tip of the hat to FT. BLISS for a good showing as well. The FROS were very tough, and as always very cool, but the championship came down to SAM SQUAD and TRAVIS. TRAVIS has been building up to an all out push for a world title all year and EL PASO was the final run. SAM SQUAD got the start and led through the tower but TRAVIS is just too good and super smooth. Another textbook run and TRAVIS took the victory. SAM SQUAD took the points title with second, and EL PASO third. Any of these teams could go far at worlds, and special kudos to TRAVIS AFB, who with a brand new team for 03, could be very hard to beat, by anybody.
SHENAH FLORES of TRAVIS AFB took another victory in the ladies class and made it a chase to the end for the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, coming to within 5 points of the title. LIBBY HUGES (RURAL/METRO) will be the champ for 03, but great season for CHALLENGE newcomer SHENAH FLORES. RUBY GAVILANES (EL PASO) finished second. The over 50's saw the return of CHALLENGE legend and second over 50 guy ever to break the two minute mark, the "Jefe" himself, MR. JUAN ONTIVAROS (WESTERN REFINERIES) to the course. JUAN took the win and ran a sweet 2:07 after two years off the CHALLENGE tour. DAVE CHIODO from TRAVIS AFB ran second with a 2:38, and is another TRAVIS "newbie" showing the fast way around the course, nice first year for DAVE also. COLONEL GLENN POLLICK of SAM SQUAD fame rounded out the podium, the COMMANDER shows alot of CHALLENGE spirit both on and off the course and is very proud of his men as well as the whole CHALLENGE fellowship. In the over 40's, BOB PHOHL (SANTEE) ran for second, and JOHN WALKA (RURAL/METRO) took third. But CHALLENGE history was made when KEVIN VOYLES of INEEL ran faster than any over 40 has ever run and won with a US record setting 1:31, the best time ever for the over 40 set. Will it be a new world record in OTTAWA? Who knows, but if KEVIN has anything to say about it, I'm sure there will be. It's the longest standing record out there and this could be the year.
Last year's TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION, MIKE MELTON (TRAVIS AFB) capped off his season with one of the fastest times of TOUR 03 on what some would call a slow course. MIKE'S dedication to the CHALLENGE is second to none and it shows on the course. A blazing 1:26 was the time and MIKE MELTON is ready for worlds. The season has been a long one for MIKE and the team but at the last regional event of the year they look ready and are poised to take a shot at the world in CANADA. KEVIN VOYLES had the second fastest time of the day with that record run in the over 40's. And ERIC AKERS (SAM SQUAD) took the third spot on the box with a 1:36. ERIC wins the points race as well and was a bright spot on the entire TOUR 03. TEAM TRAVIS won team honors, 5:00 was the winning time. Again look for TEAM TRAVIS to make a big noise at WORLD CHALLENGE XII. SACRAMENTO, CA ran for second, making the trip worth while. And SAM SQUAD took third and the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in the process. Really nice show by SACRAMENTO out there, making the CRUE take notice as a team to watch. Also TEAM TRAVIS, first individual, first team, first female, second over 50, pretty rounded out day for the team from CALIFORINA.
It can't be true, TOUR 03 is no more. But EL PASO couldn't have been a better place to end it all. And now, the biggest CHALLENGE of them all, WORLD CHALLENGE XII in OTTAWA is at hand. Only the the very best will make it there. But rest assured the CRUE and the CHALLENGE fellowship enjoyed every last run of the year, every sub two is countered by a four plus, or a seven minute run. Each holds it own beauty. To us it's the CHALLENGE that matters. Another year has passed, and the CHALLENGE grows, the fellowship is larger and the peeps want more adventure. The FREAK, QUEEN BEE, MR. MELTON, WINDSOR, the SQUAD, OVERLAND PARK and the return of BOB, and BLUFF CITY ELITE. DRAPER and VOYLES, and teams on the verge, CITY OF FLORENCE (KY), NORMAN (OK),CLAYTON COUNTY (GA), and FT. GORDON (GA) all together with CHALLENGE regulars and hopefuls making TOUR 03 of the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE go on forever. Everybody on the staff and CRUE want to thank anyone who helped the CHALLENGE along the way, no matter how big or small, it all meant alot to us. It's off to OTTAWA and the big show. One more trip and one more CHALLENGE, but it's time for our Super Bowl. It all leads up to this and we're all ready. Who will be the best? What team will persevere? How many records will fall? Be a part of history and don't miss it......see you there!



SEPTEMBER 26TH & 27TH,  2003


The CHALLENGE roared into MIZZU last week for round 15 of TOUR 03. The giant BASS PRO world headquarters served as our backdrop and the early fall winds and rain held off for a beautiful couple of days of racing. The CRUE is working together like one these days, everything in its place and a place for everything, set up is like a walk in the park. ERIC VOLMER of BASS PRO, along with KELLY ASH and TODD WILLIAMS of the SPRINGFIELD FD, and the MIDWEST FAMILY RAIDO GROUP headed up by RICK McCOY, made sure we felt at home and provided excellent help. Once more the CHALLENGE stood tall and rocked SPRINGFIELD.
FRIDAY brought the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS, and what a group of competitors were assembled. Last year's TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONS CORINTH (MS), EDWARDS AFB (CA), TEAM KAPING (MEMPHIS), TEAM DIET DR. PEPPER (PLANO, TEXAS), TYLER (TX), LITTLE ROCK AFB (AR), TEAM GOTTA LOVE IT (CONWAY, AR), TEAM DR. PEPPER (OK), and other CHALLENGE greats like SAM SQUAD, OVERLAND PARK, and the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE, all came to SPRINGFIELD to race the best. CHALLENGE newcomers NORMAN, OK impressed the CRUE. With a new YORK HEATING and AIR sponsor, NORMAN rolled into the quarterfinals. These guys are only on two CHALLENGES but already look great. Look for TEAM YORK'S NORMAN, OK to go far in the near future. With this much talent on the course, the peeps were treated to a great show. SAM SQUAD, OVERLAND PARK, TEAM DR. PEPPER and the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE advanced to the semi's through some tough competition. You would expect a good show and there was. The consolation round was between TEAM DR. PEPPER (ALTUS, OK) and SAM SQUAD who almost beat OVERLAND PARK in a classic match, the SQUAD took third, but a solid run as always for ALTUS. The championship was an epic battle between OVERLAND PARK, KS and the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE (MEMPHIS). The two teams were locked through the entire course, neither one giving an inch. The lead switched hands three or four times, and at the line there was no clear leader. With a last chance lunge at the finish, the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE took the victory, by a mere two tenths of a second. It was by far the best relay championship round of TOUR 03. OVERLAND PARK and BLUFF CITY ELITE, two teams with CHALLENGE glory on their minds, are going to be tough to beat in OTTAWA.
SATURDAY was a whole new CHALLENGE. The men and women of the CHALLENGE gathered together to showcase the top talent in the country. The ladies were about to make history. KATRINA DREWERY of MEMPHIS took third and looked strong. Then it happened, the race of the day. STACY BILLAPANDO (COLORADO SPRINGS), last year's top american at worlds, raced TEAM FIREJOCK'S JULIET DRAPER, also out of COLORADO SPRINGS. STACY ran hard and put down a sweet 2:40. But the highlight of the day was seeing JULIET DRAPER rip up the course with the fastest time ever run by a female, she ran a 2:03 with a two second infraction. It would have been a 2:01 and I'm almost positive she will run the first sub-two ever by a lady at worlds this year. Stay tuned for the best in the world, Ms. JULIET DRAPER to rock the world in CANADA. DENNY PEFFER (COLORADO SPRINGS) won the over 50's with the fastest time of the year, a 2:00 flat. What's going on in the SPRINGS? All of the sudden it's a hot bed for CHALLENGE greats. RUSSEL ELZINGA (CREVE COEUR) took second on a 2:17. DR. PEPPER'S TOMMY SADLER (ALTUS) placed third and was tough as ever. BRET YUNDT (WEST LAFAYETTE) won another over 40 division with a 1:47. BRET is gearing up for worlds and another assault on the over 40 record of 1:32. JIMMY ROGERS (ALTUS, DR. PEPPER) ran second with a 1:54, just beating out STEVE KOTCH (TEAM USO, LITTLE ROCK) by three tenths of a second.
CHALLENGE living legend, BOB RUSSELL from OVERLAND PARK, KS came out of retirement earlier this year and made another trip to SPRINGFIELD to show everybody he is the best. Another victory, and one step closer to another world title for BOB, a smooth 1:26 was the time. A teammate of BOB in OVERLAND PARK, PAT SCHIBLER took second with a 1:31 and looked very tough. ERIC AKER (SAM SQUAD) ran hard and placed third on a 1:32. OVERLAND PARK won the team title, making it two for two this season in the team division, a 4:38 was the time. The mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE placed second with a 4:54. I had said in a earlier rap that BLUFF CITY had three victories on TOUR 03, I meant to say they had four, sorry guys. Again BLUFF CITY is one of the best teams in the country and SPRINGFIELD was no different. SAM SQUAD ran third and are odds on favorites to win the points race. A tip of the hat goes out to WAUKEGAN for a good showing.
Another CHALLENGE is history. SPRINGFIELD is a great host and I'm sure the CHALLENGE will return again. OVERLAND PARK makes me proud to be a KANSAS boy, they are ready to go up against anybody and will be very hard to beat. I can't believe that TOUR 03 is only one stop away from ending. It seems like yesterday that we rolled into CONWAY, AR and now only EL PASO remains. One more time the CHALLENGE will stand tall and test the best of the best. The CRUE will give it their all again and chose not to think about it all coming to an end. The CHALLENGE fellowship will miss TOUR 03 and will count the hours till TOUR 04. Everybody is gearing up for WORLD CHALLENGE XII in OTTAWA. The last stop in EL PASO will be very cool, you can't miss it. Once more the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE will be in west TEXAS. Look out my peeps, TOUR 03 will end with a bang. See you there. 





The banks of LAKE ERIE saw the mighty CHALLENGE move into the city of ERIE last week and round 14 of TOUR 03. As you may have heard, there was this little weather thing known as Hurricane ISABEL that tore through the country that weekend, and through ERIE as well. But the CHALLENGE stops for nothing, you know, neither wind, nor rain, nor gloom of night deal. Same holds true for the CHALLENGE and TOUR 03. Yes it was wet, of course it was windy, but the CRUE held fast and made setup happen as though it was a normal day. Mayor RICK FILIPPI of the city of ERIE, along with TAMMY ROCHE and DON SIEFERT, as well as BRYAN DELIO, DARREN HART, and CHIEF BILL HERTEL from the ERIE FD made sure things were handled, and the CRUE had great help throughout the entire event. Once again, you can't keep a great CHALLENGE down and "THE TOUGHEST TWO MINUTES IN SPORTS" lives again.
The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS were mixed through the day. The action was great, and the crowd that numbered almost 3000, got to see some all out CHALLENGE glory. FT. MEADE made a good showing, but TEAM HERC'S (NIAGARA FALLS), with PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY (VA) and MIAMI DADE rose to the top. The tightest race of the tourney took place between PRINCE WILLIAM and TEAM HERC'S. At the dummy PWC trailed by at least 4 or 5 yards, but with a strong push at the line, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY came out on top. Never give up and the course will come to you. MIAMI-DADE was tough all day. They ran hard and took names, and victory was the result. The MIAMI-DADE group are winners and look smooth on and off the course. Look for them to go far at WORLD CHALLENGE XII.
The ladies were on hand in force, some of the top names in the CHALLENGE came to ERIE to leave it on the course. VAUGHAN'S ESTHER DeBOER took the win with a smooth 2:29, nice run. MISSISSAUGA'S ANGIE HOLMAN ran for second on 3:00, and SAMANTHA "QUEEN BEE" WASHINGTON (DEERFIELD BEACH) placed third. All CHALLENGE stars, all getting ready for OTTAWA. The ladies know how to play, and these are some of the best out there. CHUCK LeBLANC (LEOMINSTER, MA) won the over 50's with 2:21. DAVE CUSACK, 2003 TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION in over 50, ran second, and also sewed up the OVERCASH AWARD for most points overall. HILTON'S JAMES MALEY JR. rounded out the top three, all within three seconds of each other. PAUL DeKAY (NIAGARA FALLS) took over 40 honors on a 1:56. MALTA-McCONNELLSVILLE'S JOHN ROBBINS, last year's GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION ran a 1:57 and took second. Looks like JOHN will place second in points this year, but nice season and as always, a true champion. MARK BILEY (STRONGSVILLE) placed third. All of these guys were two seconds apart in time. Close CHALLENGE racing all around.
2003 CANADIAN NATIONAL CHAMPION MIKE GILBERT (ST. CATHARINES), fresh off his glorious victory up north, made his trip to ERIE count with a win. MIKE put down a sweet 1:32 and looked like the champion he is in doing so. GUELPH'S STEVE MACCULLOCH placed second running a 1:42 and STEVE KOSTUK (BRANTFORD) ran for third. MIKE GILBERT will go far at WORLD CHALLENGE XII, it will be a great sight to behold whoever wins. BRANTFORD FIRE took team honors with 5:41 the mark. NIAGARA FALLS ran a 5:48 and placed second. Top US team and third place CITY OF FLORENCE, KY ran a 6:22. FLORENCE, KY just keeps gettin' better each CHALLENGE, again the CRUE'S pick for most improved team on TOUR 03. A nice story outside the top ten was watching MIKE TRAINOR. He made the trip all the way from FT. GORDON, GA with one thing in mind, to go sub-two. With a lot of ARMY PRIDE and the CHALLENGE spirit, MIKE laid down a 1:59. Yet another CHALLENGE quest fulfilled, way to go MIKE TRAINOR and FT. GORDON, GA. MIAMI-DADE'S RICK STEPHENS pulled double duty, running in the feature race of the day, and then helping his team to victory in THE STREAMLIGHT RELAYS, the very next race, these guys are tough.
The peeps in ERIE came to downtown to witness the CHALLENGE spectacle, lining the streets by the thousands. Alot of first timers to the fellowship, that are now hardcore, hosedraggin' CHALLENGE loyalists. I'm sure the CHALLENGE will come back to the shores of LAKE ERIE. Its a very cool city and fun to be a part of, if even only for a few days. Make the trip to ERIE and catch a CHALLENGE, you'll be glad you did. SPRINGFIELD, MO is the next stop awaiting the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE. The CRUE is on the way, and another CHALLENGE will go down. TOUR 03 is closing soon, and WORLD CHALLENGE XII will be the focus. What adventures will take place till then? Only time and the CHALLENGE course can say. Stay tuned.............





TOUR 03 moved into the deep south last week. The food was great and the CHALLENGE was also. I can't believe the tour is winding down. Some of the country is bracing for fall and the chill that it brings, but in LOUISIANA the weather is still hot and the peeps were ready to see a great CHALLENGE. Setup day saw a downpour, the skies opened up and let us have it. It's a good thing the CRUE is so tough, the rain only made us more determined to persevere. GUY ROGERS, along with the SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA MUTUAL AID ASSOC. led by DAVE BROWN, and the LAKE CHARLES FD with CHIEF DAVID MANUEL, made sure that round 13 was a great one for everybody. The rain didn't dampen anyone's spirit and setup went great despite the wetness.
The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS started off the day on SATURDAY. The rains from the day before were history,and a bright sunny LOUISIANA day was on tap for the over 1200 peeps in attendance. The ladies from PPG put on quite a show and made their first CHALLENGE one to remember. They were proud of the fact that there were 10 kids between them and they still had time to squeeze in a nice performance on race day. Way to go ladies, we hope to see you again soon. WESTLAKE VFD (KATY TEXAS) is new to the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS, but they are a great group of guys and their CHALLENGE spirit is great to see. WESTLAKE plowed through the pack and made their mark on the competition, looking every bit like seasoned vets. You would think they had done this every stop on TOUR 03, instead of just twice. They stood in victory on the podium, and couldn't have been more proud. Look for WESTLAKE VFD to always put in 110% and go far in the future. WEST I-10 also of KATY, TEXAS ran second and looked great. It seems the HOUSTON area is teaming with good CHALLENGE teams. The local boys, LAKE CHARLES, took third in their first CHALLENGE with a strong team to the delight of the peeps. A tip of the hat goes out to CHENNAULT, LA for a good showing.
The ladies were next and as always, it's cool to watch as they put it all on the course for the peeps and themselves. BEDA GUTIERREZ (HOUSTON) a proud member of the CHICAS CALIENTES, took the win with a 4:35. BEDA runs hard and is cool to be around, look for her to cut her time down each time she runs. KATRINA DREWRY of BLUFF CITY ELITE took second with another very nice run. KATRINA is another lady who leaves it all on the course, just like it's supposed to be. DAVE CUSACK from LYONS-MUIR, MI won once again in the over 50's for his fourth victory of TOUR 03 along with a number of seconds and a few thirds in there as well. He can now be called the winner of the OVERCASH AWARD for 2003. He has more points than any person, any team, any relay team, anyone period. Great season for one of the toughest guys out there. JOE HORTON (LARGO) took his fourth victory in a row, and is now the 2003 over 40 TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION. Way to go champ, JOE worked very hard all year with the sole purpose of taking the championship. Another dream realized between the banners. Congrats JOE, nice job. NOE PEREZ (INDUSTRIAL EMERGENCY SERVICES) took second with a 2:03, seven seconds behind JOE'S time, but a strong finish. JOHN FLOYD of PPG rounded out the podium, running a 3:13.
ERIC AKER of SAM SQUAD has been making waves all year and LAKE CHARLES was no different. His 1:32 was good for the win, and he just looks so smooth out there. It's hard to say anymore about him than you've already heard, but he is one of the best players out there right now and just keeps improving if you can believe that. He carries himself like a gentleman at all times and is very humble in victory. It's an honor to share the course with him. ERIC NEAL of the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE took second on a sweet 1:33. Mr. NEAL'S teammate WILL LIVELY ran third with a 1:37. These are just two of what is one of the toughest teams in the U.S. right now, the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE (MEMPHIS). With yet another victory in the team division, BLUFF CITY had four of the top ten times and ran a 4:56. These guys are the smoothest team to watch, no mistakes, whatever their doing back in MEMPHIS is working. The mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE has three wins on the season and will not settle for second anywhere, including OTTAWA. Keep your eyes on this team, they are amazing to see, and will always bring their "A" game. SAM SQUAD brought home second and again looked very good. TEAM DIET DR. PEPPER (PLANO, TEXAS) ran third, and a CHALLENGE welcome back to MARCO BANUELAS of TEAM DIET DR. PEPPER, it's good to see the team back on the course. The emotional high of the day came when BILL BOCKELMAN of SAM SQUAD ran for a new PR of 1:47, his CHALLENGE spirit was on full display for all to see and it was great. BILL has been working hard all year as well and its paying off in a big way, sweet run BILL, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
LAKE CHARLES is a very nice city, and the CHALLENGE will return again someday. ERIE, PA is calling us and we hear it. Another journey across this great nation, to another place new to us. TOUR 03 is on the move, and nothing can stop it. What will happen, we never know. But we do know that the CRUE is always ready to throw a CHALLENGE wherever it may be. The CHALLENGE fellowship has a need for speed, and the course will be ready to cure them. Look out ERIE, the CHALLENGE draws near. Three more stops and TOUR 03 can be put to bed. Can't we just keep going? Can't the CHALLENGE last forever? It will, in the hearts of those who have taken part in the greatest sport alive, the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE. Nobody will ever forget TOUR 03 and that's why it will live on. Now it's off to ERIE and more CHALLENGE glory. See you there!


SEPTEMBER 6TH & 7TH, 2003                                                          


There comes a time on every tour, when the CRUE just has to say, life is good and its good to be alive. When TOUR 03 rolled into WINSTON-SALEM last week, we knew the support would be there waiting. But to see 20 to 30 people lined up and ready to help was overwhelming. JOHN PENNINGTON along with WINSTON-SALEM Local 682 and FORSYTH COUNTY FD, and of course "little man" <John's eldest son> throw a great CHALLENGE. Everywhere we go is cool but anyone could take some notes from this crowd. From start to finish JOHN and the gang were work animals, assuring that every detail was attended to. The CRUE was without need, and a great feeling ran through our tour family. An amazing setup was complete by 9:30 a.m. leaving us time to take care of some little things that were building up. The road can be hard on equipment and we don't always get a chance to catch up. But thanks to the NORTH CAROLINA folks, the CHALLENGE shines like the sun and the CRUE is content. Thank you JOHN PENNINGTON and your group for being you and making life on the road a little sweeter.
Saturday was a great day, the weather was perfect and the peeps were ready for another CHALLENGE. The ladies took the course and it was underway. MICHELLE HERNANDEZ of MIAMI-DADE played hard and placed third. The race of the day for the ladies saw the pride of TRAVIS AFB, SHENAH FLORES take on the newest star of the CHALLENGE, GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA'S SHERI JACKSON. Taking second, SHENAH looked great and put down a new P.R. in the process. Every time she runs, it's faster and that's what it's all about. SHERI continues to impress us, the count is now two victories in a row, and two sub three's in a row. Her 2:55 is one of the best times in the country for the ladies and remember, she's only taken the CHALLENGE four times now. I think she's starting to get this down now. SHERI and SHENAH are now in a dead lock tie for second in the points race behind LIBBY HUGHES (RURAL-METRO) with 105. With four more events remaining, who will win the championship? Stay tuned.
DAVE CUSACK (LYONS-MUIR, MI) marked his 60th CHALLENGE in WINSTON-SALEM with another win. He now has an astonishing 265 points and is a CHALLENGE hero to everybody. The ageless JESSE WALKER (GREENSBORO, NC) looks younger every time we see him and took second. I checked his I.D. and yes, he is of age. DAVE CHIODO of TRAVIS AFB ran for a new P.R. and placed third. DAVE is working hard and his goal of 2:14 is in sight. He is dedicated to the CHALLENGE and to his team, look for him to be a force in the near future. There were no less than 24 over 40 competitors on-hand. A full field of men and women who can't get enough of the CHALLENGE no matter what their age, and showing again its the toughest class out there. JOE HORTON of LARGO, FL chalked up win number three in a row with a nice 1:50 and now has 217 points in the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. It's pretty much a done deal, nobody can catch " BIG JOE". BRAD DUNCAN of CHARLOTTE, NC ran second less than a quarter second off the winning time, nice work BRAD. Last year's CHAMPION, JOHN ROBBINS (MALTA-McCONELLSVILLE, OH) placed third, racing JOE and putting on a great show. The JOHN and JOE show is very cool to see so look for it at a CHALLENGE near you.

The feature race of the day saw last year's TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION, MIKE MELTON and HARRY MYERS, both of TRAVIS AFB, face off in an all out TRAVIS battle for CHALLENGE glory. Alot of pre-race talk went on between the two, and when BILLY sent them off, the talk was over and the action was on. The two put on a killer show and in the end, MIKE took the win with a 1:34. HARRY was second but will not rest until he reaches the top of the podium. The highlight of the day came when after countless attempts, JEFF TINCHER of FAIRFAX COUNTY became the newest member of the sub 100 club. His 1:37 earned him third but it was a victory for JEFF. This guy works hard and trains, he runs the CHALLENGE then goes home and works some more. And it all pays off in the end. The CRUE is proud of JEFF and I know everyone around him is too. Way to go JEFF TINCHER. Props also to LIGHTNING LONNIE LEWIS (CHESTERFIRLD, VA) for his 1:38 and his 117 points. TEAM TRAVIS took team honors with a 5:05, the new team is looking tough and is hitting its stride at the right time, just in time for worlds. GREENSBORO, NC ran second and WINSTON-SALEM was third, proving that the great state of NORTH CAROLINA is well represented in the CHALLENGE.
Sunday brought the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS to the course. A crowd of close to 1000 gathered to witness the spectacle and were not let down. TRAVIS AFB and TEAM STIHL of VIRGINIA BEACH rose from the pack to face one another in the championship round. TEAM STIHL looked like the great team they are but TRAVIS is strong also and crossed the line first and took the win. CHARLOTTE, NC ran hard and took third. A tip of the hat goes out to MYRTLE BEACH for a good day as well. Misfortune struck WINSTON-SALEM for the second time in a row on TOUR 03, but you just know they'll be ready to kick some CHALLENGE butt at WORLD CHALLENGE XII. WINSTON-SALEM is too good of a team to not be there when it's time.
Once more the CHALLENGE rolls on. WINSTON-SALEM is a great place and if you want to go to a great CHALLENGE, make plans for next year. Go to as many CHALLENGES as you can. Run away with the CRUE and see them all. The fine peeps in LAKE CHARLES, LA are waiting for us now. TOUR 03 is winding to a finish. Many races are still to be had. The CHALLENGE fellowship can't wait for worlds. Till then, the CRUE will cross the country one more time to reach the peeps in a few more spots. The SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE is the best experience on the road and we all know it. Stay focused and play hard. Keep up the good fight and run your best. See everybody out there and make new friends. Stop by and say hello to the CRUE. TOUR 03 won't be around forever, but the memories will last a lifetime.



AUGUST 30TH, 2003                                                          


Round 11 of TOUR 03 came to the D.C. area last weekend, and the CRUE just keeps ripping across this great nation of ours. Thousands of miles have gone by, and many more will before we sleep. A constant trip, and winding roads. Over 100 airplanes between us, and the CHALLENGE lives on. The peeps of STONEWALL JACKSON FD with BILL PITTARD, along with PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY FD came together to throw a great CHALLENGE. A record set up took place on Friday and the CRUE was mostly done by 11:00, that is very cool. A huge tip of the hat to everyone who helped. The MANASSAS MALL was a great sight and the CHALLENGE was ready to ride again.
The ladies started things off, and put on one great show.  BONNIE BENSON of PROVIDENCE, RI took third with a smooth run, and truly is a fun person to be around. She runs hard and her spirit is contagious. You can just tell she loves the CHALLENGE and everything about it, and something tells me she's like that about life in general. A rematch of last weeks feature pitting LIBBY HUGHES (RURAL METRO, TN) against SHERI JACKSON  (GREENSBORO, NC) went down once more. And on her third CHALLENGE, SHERI JACKSON busted out a sub three and the win. That's right a sub three! SHERI is really good at this and is on her way to CHALLENGE glory very soon. LIBBY still holds down the points lead, but look out ladies, SHERI JACKSON is on the course.
DAVE CUSACK won the over 50's with another nice run of 2:17. LYONS-MUIR, MI has got to be proud of DAVE'S accomplishments, not just on TOUR 03 but for the many tours that DAVE has taken part in. CHIEF ROBERT MILLER from FT. MEADE ran second and looked great running a 3:04. YORK CITY'S RICHARD HALPIN took third. STEPHEN BOURASSA (LATHAM, NY), new hairdo and all, along with JOHN "next time better time" McGEE, round out the 50's set and they are always great to watch. Again the over 40's are tough and MANASSAS was no different. In fact, the best race of the day was between last years TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPOIN, JOHN ROBBINS (MALTA McCONNELLSVILLE, OH) and current points leader JOE HORTON from LARGO, FL. Two different styles were on display, the overpowering strength of JOHN vs. the foot speed and technical prowess of JOE. The two raced hard and close, neither one giving an inch. The lead switched back and forth no fewer than 5 times, and went down to the line. At the finish it was JOE HORTON with the win and a time of 1:51, but it didn't come easy. JOHN ROBBINS made him earn it. And when it was all said and done, it was handshakes all around and the CHALLENGE spirit could be felt everywhere on the course. That's what its all about after all. DAVID COSTA from PROVIDENCE rounded out the podium.
LONNIE LEWIS (CHESTERFIELD, VA) was the winner of the younger group with a very smooth 1:41. LONNIE is always around the 100 second mark. Whether above or below, he has great style flirting with a sub 100 each run, and is great to watch. Second place went to JEFF TINCHER of FAIRFAX COUNTY turning out a 1:46. And JOE HORTON'S winning over 40 time was good enough to also take third overall, nice days work for BIG JOE. JOHN ROBBIN'S time also stood up for fourth overall. PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY took team honors with a 6:46. MONTGOMERY COUNTY ran second and the team from PROVIDENCE, RI made their trip down worth it by placing third.
The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS topped off the day. The debut on TOUR 03 from the FAIRFAX COUNTY JAKES, last years CHALLENGE rookies of the year, was a good one. The JAKES have been working hard and it showed, making their way to the championship round. ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY also looked very tough and faced the JAKES in a great battle. Its not the TOUGHEST TWO MINUTES IN SPORTS for nothing. Both teams put in 100% to the finish with the JAKES taking the win, but it was very close, less than one second was the difference. STONEWALL JACKSON VFD placed third. Nice job by FT. MEADE as well. One fifth the work and five times the fun, the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS are great fun. FAIRFAX'S FINEST WOMEN'S RELAY TEAM was the sole ladies team but wow, what a show. Their time would have placed them in the top ten ahead of some of the men's teams, and they looked great. A big CHALLENGE welcome back to all the ladies from FAIRFAX, very good work.
The CHALLENGE fellowship remains steadfast. CURTIS BRODIE from PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, and member of the very first winning team from the first ever CHALLENGE was on the course and HOSE-ZILLA himself, MR. CHRIS GANT was spotted among the peeps. Stars of the past, present and future, whether it be the first CHALLENGE or the most recent, or the next CHALLENGE in WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA, all want to see what's going to happen next. A huge thunderstorm cut short the after CHALLENGE celebration, but it takes more than that to dampen the enthusiasm of the fellowship longing for the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE and the adventure that it holds. The CRUE works hard to bring it to them, and it would be easier to tame the seven seas, than to hold back TOUR 03 from steamrolling through its appointed rounds.



AUGUST 22ND & 23RD, 2003                                                


Round 10 of TOUR 03 rolled into the great SMOKEY MOUNTAINS in PIGEON FORGE last week. Without a doubt, this was the biggest event of the season. A total of 125 males, 22 over 40s, 10 over 50s, 10 females, and 7 chiefs FINISHED the course. And a few more who couldn't, took the trip to TENNESSEE to test themselves against the best. The CRUE was in its usual great form, and at this point in TOUR 03 we are working like a machine. Its cool to see we all depend on each other and do our own jobs with skill and speed that rivals any road crew anywhere. Thanks to GREG PATTERSON and the PIGEON FORGE FD, along with PIGEON FORGE SPECIAL EVENTS and the city workers of PIGEON FORGE for bringing the CHALLENGE to TENNESSEE, making us feel at home on the road, and throwing a great CHALLENGE. The help was outstanding and the peeps were great.

The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS were held under a beautiful but very hot TENNESSEE sun on friday. Some of the nations' best teams took part in what was to become the best relay tourney of TOUR 03. Last years TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONS CORINTH, MISS, the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE, number one in your hearts SAM SQUAD, and the return of world record holders and CHALLENGE legends OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, all in the line up. WINSTON-SALEM, GAINESVILLE, and newcomers to the relays WESTLAKE, TX, along with a host of others, filled the brackets. 25 teams in all were set to leave it on the course for the peeps as well as themselves, in search of CHALLENGE glory. How could this not be a great day? And who would think that the current world record of 1:10 by OVERLAND PARK would be put to the test. Indeed, when the semi's came around, the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE would run the second fastest relay time in CHALLENGE history, with a blazing 1:11:21. I've said it before, but will take one more chance to say, the boys from MEMPHIS are without a doubt, the smoothest and most exciting team to watch out there. BLUFF CITY is for real and will never give less than 110%. SAM SQUAD and CORINTH faced off in the consolation round, not a familiar spot for either team. CORINTH looked every bit like the champions they are, but the squad plays hard and prevailed for third. SAM SQUAD now has 140 points and are almost assured the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP for TOUR 03 in the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS. The championship round came down to OVERLAND PARK and BLUFF CITY, all the CRUE and peeps alike could do was stand back and watch one great race by two great teams. Pure CHALLENGE spirit and determination could be felt emanating from the course, and a display of power and speed like no other took place. In the end OVERLAND PARK stood in victory, and it does this KANSAS boys' heart good to see they haven't lost a step over the course of time. You just know that when WORLD CHALLENGE XII rolls around, they as well as all these teams, will be more than ready to make CHALLENGE history. A tip of the hat goes out to the ladies of ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLA. for a good show and another strong run.

The CRUE awoke early on Saturday knowing full well that with over 140 individuals, it was going to be a long day. The CHALLENGE is something that has a life of its own and as honored members of the CRUE we bend to its will. The largest field of ladies we've seen on TOUR 03 opened the day with 15 competitors. The day marked the return of ESTERO FIRES' JEANNINE HORTON. As a member of the FLORIDA FIRE FORCE ladies relay team, we've seen her quite a bit, but its been since '99 since she has taken on the course by herself. It was great to see her rip up the carpet on her way to qualifying for worlds. Welcome back JEANNINE! The QUEEN BEE (SAMANTHA WASHINGTON, DEERFIELD BEACH) was on hand to the delight of her many fans, running strong and taking third with an always smooth 3:13. The race of the day for the ladies was between points leader LIBBY HUGHES (RURAL METRO of KNOX COUNTY) and GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA'S SHERI JACKSON. SHERI has only run the CHALLENGE twice now, but she is emerging as a star in her own right. LIBBY took the win, but only by one second, 3:06 was the mark. She now has 120 points and the championship is getting closer. Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention WINSTON-SALEM'S PHYLLIS PLATH, who continues to place high against the younger ladies, and by her own admission, knows why BILLY EDWARDS is famous. But she has been sworn to secrecy and the mystery remains. The CRUE is proud of the progress of TONYA COFFMAN (INDIANAPOLIS FD) who always finishes faster each time she runs, and is now knocking at the door at a trip to OTTAWA, very cool.

The over 50 guys are a tough bunch. If I ever grow up I hope I'm half as tough. ANTHONY HANCE (COCKE COUNTY) ran third. And again the ageless one DAVE CUSACK from LYONS-MUIR, MI ran hard and took second with a nice 2:17. Dave now has an amazing 205 points and is poised to take the OVERCASH AWARD for most points. JESSE WALKER of GREENSBORO won with a 2:12 he is full of CHALLENGE spirit, and looks and runs like a man half his age, somebody check his I D. And the man himself MR. TED OVERCASH was in attendance, its an honor to share the course with him as always. LARGO'S JOE HORTON won the over 40s, running a 1:46, and with an injury to YORK CITY'S MICHAEL    ANDERSON, it looks like BIG JOE is going to win the points race with a stellar season on TOUR 03. CHALLENGE star PAT HARTLEY of GAINESVILLE ran second, and looked great. And DUANE CHEEK from WINSTON-SALEM took third. A shout goes out to CHIEF JOHN NEUDORFF of MIAMI DADE who is new to the CHALLENGE but looks like a pro already, a 2:14 was his time, good work chief.

For those who have been under a rock the last two years, its been since WORLD CHALLENGE X in MEMPHIS that we have been blessed to watch the best in the world, OVERLAND PARK'S very own BOB RUSSELL, holder of the world record with a very sick 1:19, and CHALLENGE good guy. When we saw his name on the roster we knew he was going to come to PIGEON FORGE prepared and ready to show his mad skills. When you watch the best in the world at anything its cool, but to see BOB again was great. He is CHALLENGE spirit through and through and is a pleasure to be around. He was matched against ERIC AKER from SAM SQUAD, CHALLENGE rookie but another all around good dude, and quickly becoming a legend himself. ERIC jumped at the chance to test his skill against the best. Like a true member of the USMC he excepted his role as the first man to race BOBBY since his record setting run, with great enthusiasm and pride. ERIC got his usual monster start and took off running, leading BOB to the top of the tower and down again. But like the champion he is BOB stayed cool and ran his race. it wasn't to long and the lead was gone and so was BOB. Another textbook run and BOB chalked up the victory, running a sweet 1:26 in his first race back in almost two years. ERIC placed second with a 1:31. PAT SCHIBLER (OVERLAND PARK) took third running a 1:33. Props to RICK STEPHENS (MIAMI DADE) for a nice 1:35, placing forth. A CHALLENGE welcome back also goes to DOUG HALL from OVERLAND PARK, coming back strong as well. OVERLAND PARK now running under the TEAM BOLLE´ banner took team honors with a great 4:47. We welcome BOLLE to the CHALLENGE, anybody who helps a team or person is cool by us, help the people who help the CHALLENGE. The mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE was second with 4:57 as the mark, and now has 115 points and is making a run at the championship. The points leaders SAM SQUAD has 145 points and ran third with a 5:08. This could go down to the last race in EL PASO for all the glory. It will be intense and exciting no matter what the outcome.

The SMOKEY MOUNTAINS are nice, and the CHALLENGE would like to come back someday. For now MANASSAS, VIRGINIA is our destination, and another CHALLENGE awaits. The CRUE just keeps going, and going, we'll get this down someday. Fall is here and the seasons change, but the the CHALLENGE remains standing like a monolith, calling to the fellowship far and wide. Come and play, test your skills, and run hard. Line up with the best, and hang with the CRUE. Leave everything between the banners, and go home happy. Come to the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE and live the adventure. The boys and STEF will be there, will you. See you on TOUR 03 soon.


AUGUST 17TH & 18TH, 2003                                                

"ROCKY MOUNTAIN WAY"                

Tour 03 just keeps ripping through the country, making and breaking the dreams of the men and women of the CHALLENGE fellowship. Round 8 moved to the thin air of the Rocky's and the beautiful MEDVED AUTOPLEX last week. Its always a great site to see the mighty CHALLENGE against the mountains. And the MEDVED staff made the CRUE feel at home once again, the CASTLEROCK FD also played a part in the proceedings. The CRUE arrived a day early to soak up and adjust to the atmosphere, you know the CHALLENGE doesn't set itself up, it takes alot of hard work and the rarified air works against the CRUE and their mostly east coast bodies. But the CRUE is never home and can be tough anywhere across this great nation of ours. It takes more than lack of oxygen to keep us from bringing the CHALLENGE to the peeps we love.

The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS took place on Friday. A host of great teams were on hand to make the racing action intense. TEXAS, MONTANA, NEW MEXICO, OKLAHOMA, and of course COLORADO represented the rocky mountain states and midwest in an all out battle for CHALLENGE glory. The ladies of LITTLETON CO. put down a nice run and looked good. The boys were ready to put on a great show, and they did.  FT. BLISS continues to be one of the more improved teams out there, making the army peeps from EL PASO proud and bringing home third. The championship round pitted TEAM GOLDS < GREAT FALLS MONTANA >  against the powerful SAM SQUAD. The TEXAS boys are the best team in the U.S. right now and CASTLE ROCK was no exception, another victory and one more step toward the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP was the order of the day. You've got to bring your A plus game and then some to keep up with these guys. A shout goes out to my "homies" from ALBUQUERQUE for a good showing.

Saturday brought a new CHALLENGE and the MEDVED AUTOPLEX was charged with electricity. It didn't take much time before the peeps got what they came for. As always, the ladies put on a great show. ERIN ORTEGA of LITTLETON ran for third and made the time for OTTAWA. KRISTINE BRAMAN out of POUDRE FIRE AUTHORITY took second with a nice 3:22. Then it happened. The feature race went down and CHALLENGE regulars STACY BILLAPONDO and JULIET DRAPER both hailing from COLORODO SPRINGS faced off. STACY had a little mishap and unfortunately was unable to finish. But MS. DRAPER was the story of the day. When she came out of the tower and hit the KEISER at one minute, we knew we were seeing something special. CHALLENGE glory was in full display and the women's record was being tested. JULIET ran hard and at the finish even with a five second penalty, she had run an amazing 2:25. The current fastest time of 3:00 on TOUR 03 was history and it goes without saying that the world record of 2:22 is in serious jeopardy. She would have beaten it if not for the infraction, and the time would have easily won worlds last year. We know its not a world record unless its run at OTTAWA, but do you really think its not going to happen? Way to go JULIET, keep up the great work.

WILLIAM STEELE from WHEATLAND VFD took third in the over 50 set. And once more DAVE CUSACK <LYONS-MUIR MI.> ran tough and claimed second. Now DAVE has more GRAND NATIONAL POINTS than anyone, or any team for that matter. He's working on locking down the newly named OVERCASH AWARD, named for TED OVERCASH. The award is to recognize the top points getter for TOUR 03. DENNY PEFFER <COLORADO SPRINGS> won with a 2:14. The over 40 class welcomed a not so new face on the TOUR, INEEL'S KEVIN VOYLES former world record holder is now 40, and look out, yet another record is going to fall. KEVIN used the CASTLE ROCK event to warm up, he's been a little nicked up this year, between that and the wildland fires in IDAHO, his training regiment has suffered. You couldn't tell by watching him, he looked smooth as silk and ran a strong 1:34 taking the win.  DAVE MINCHOW of POUDRE took second running with a 1:48. LARGO'S JOE HORTON ran for third and now he and YORK CITY'S MICHAEL ANDERSON are in a dead tie for the point lead. This is going down to the quick, the title will most likely go down to the very end and may the best man win. This is what the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP is all about. Good luck to both.

The CHALLENGE welcomed back POUDRE FIRE AUTHORITY'S ROSS REINKING this event. ROSS is a CHALLENGE legend, after running the fifth fastest time ever with a 1:24.79, and it looks like he hasn't missed a step taking the win with a 1:31. Some guys are just made for the CHALLENGE and ROSS is one of those people. We haven't seen him since MEMPHIS two years ago, but ROSS is back and kicking it! Again, KEVIN VOYLE'S time was not only tops in over 40, but it was good enough to take second overall, nice work from a really stand up guy. ERIC AKER known by his teammates as the "freak" was beaten for the first time in a race this year, placing third. Gunny Sergeant in the USMC and quickly becoming a CHALLENGE legend himself, ERIC is a pleasure to watch. Nobody has a start like the Sergeant. He looks like he's being shot out of a cannon, those poor stairs don't stand a chance. He always wants to race the best and is a true gentleman win or lose, the CHALLENGE spirit is part of his soul and everyone around him is better for it. Also way to go LT. ED SNYDER of EL PASO for a strong finish. SAM SQUAD won the team title, and is killing the points chase. Those guys are tough and it looks like its the year of the SAM SQUAD. I'm sure their running out of space to keep all the awards. They are going to require their own storage facility just for that very soon. The super hero FIRE FROS from EL PASO took second and are very cool both on and off the course. INEEL brought home third in their first appearance on TOUR 03. Props go to the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY who were infectious with their spirit, and the peeps couldn't be more pleased with their strong showing.

TOUR 03 is at the half way point, and starting the downside toward what we know will be a great finish. The fellowship is stronger than ever and the CRUE is also. Our summer in the sun is drawing to an end, and fall is around the corner. Everyone's eyes are on the prize, and OTTAWA is the focus. PIGEON FORGE TENN. is beckoning the CHALLENGE to come and play. The CRUE is totally absorbed with the road and all that is the CHALLENGE. Its like some kind of sweet thing we can't live without. The peeps crave the kind of action that can only be found at the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE. And its sad to think that TOUR 03 will end someday. But all good things must come to an end, and we choose not to think about that. So until that day the boys and STEF will continue to take the CHALLENGE far and wide. And after all, there's still a whole second half of great adventures to be had. Good luck to everyone and long live the CHALLENGE.



AUGUST 2ND, 2003


The CHALLENGE moved west to the BIG A, EDISON FIELD, home of the world champion ANAHEIM ANGELS and round 7 of TOUR 03. The SO-CAL area is a place that a member of the CRUE could get used to. The weather is nice, the peeps are beautiful, and the firefighters are fast. ORANGE COUNTY LOCAL 3631 and JEFF WILLIAMS, along with ALBERTSONS-SAVON and ANAHEIM FD really throw a great CHALLENGE. Plenty of set-up help was on hand and the CRUE couldn't have asked for more. With the stadium as its backdrop the CHALLENGE stood proud along with the BIG A itself. Another early finish gave the CRUE a chance to blend in nicely with the locals, and for a short time we too were CALIFORNIANS.
The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS featured last years runner-up to the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, TEAM STIHL of VIRGINIA BEACH, along with EDWARDS A.F.B. and many other west coast teams. Top seed TEAM STIHL moved easily into the championship round against ORANGE COUNTY'S ENGINE 222 A+1. On paper anyway TEAM STIHL look like a shoe-in, but that's why we run the races. A penalty really hurt the VIRGINIA BEACH boys and the "triple deuce" brought home the victory. Nice job by the ORANGE COUNTY team. EDWARDS A.F.B. looked strong and took third. Another ORANGE COUNTY team, EMBASSY ELITE also made a good showing.
The ladies always make the peeps happy, and run hard. Its great to see what hard work and dedication can do. KIRSTIN BAETZ (BLOOMINGTON, MN) placed third making the trip west a good one. JANICE GOLDSMITH of SACRAMENTO took second. And on the top step of the podium stood the pride of TRAVIS A.F.B., MS. SHENAH FLORES. Running a personal record of 3:30, SHENAH is starting to become a star in her own right. She is new to the CHALLENGE this tour but she already has what it takes to become a champion in the future. SHENAH plays hard and uses each run to build on what should become a solid place in the ladies division for some time to come.
Once more DAVE CUSACK (LYONS-MUIR, MI) won the over 50's. This is a regular position for DAVE and with well over 50 runs under his belt, I'm sure he could find his way to the finish line blindfolded. DAVE CHIODO of TRAVIS A.F.B. took second with yet another personal best by a TRAVIS member (2:27). Another CHALLENGE mainstay GREG KNIGHT from EVANSVILLE, IN placed third. The over 40 class was won by WAYNE POWELL from ORANGE COUNTY with a smooth 1:45. BERNIE RAY of PALM BEACH COUNTY made the journey from FLORIDA and ran second and looked very tough as usual and 1:51 was the mark. A highlight of the day was watching YORK CITY, PA's MICHAEL ANDERSON, who is engaged in an all out war for the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP points lead, run a strong 2:06. It was MICHAEL'S strongest run of the year and he took over the points lead in doing so. Way to go MIKE!
The younger set took the course and ripped. It was a hot day at the BIG A and the peeps were treated to a fine CHALLENGE. HARRY MYERS (TRAVIS A.F.B.) ran for second and yes it was a personal best 1:31. HARRY is fresh off a tour of duty, taking him to BAGHDAD, and is starting to hit his stride again at the CHALLENGE. The race of the day featured last year's TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION and TRAVIS leader MIKE MELTON, against CHALLENGE newcomer and part time CRUE member JEREMY "CHAMP" CZAPINSKI from CHULA VISTA. The "CHAMP" is new but is in no way a rookie. His times are that of a seasoned vet and MIKE was in for a race. When it was all said and done, it was MR. MELTON with the victory and a new personal record of 1:28. Are you seeing a pattern here? JEREMY'S time placed him third with a sweet 1:33. TRAVIS A.F.B. took the team title easily and each member of the team set personal bests. A huge tip of the hat goes out to TEAM TRAVIS and all their players for a great day at the BIG A. It's pretty obvious that they have been doing their homework, and will be a force to be reckoned with at WORLD CHALLENGE XII. SACRAMENTO placed second, with ORANGE COUNTY rounding out the top three.
Ah yes, CALIFORNIA! A place where a great CHALLENGE can be held during the day and a young CRUE members' dream can come true at night. Its cool to see a dream realized, on or off the course. The CHALLENGE holds many twists and turns, thousands of miles and state after state the CHALLENGE has a life of its own. The CRUE carries the banner for the fellowship and TOUR 03 is taking over. Coming to a city near you, it's THE SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE. Bigger and badder than ever and now tearing up the land on its way to CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO. See you there.


JULY 19TH, 2003


TOUR 03 came to JANESVILLE after a small, but much too long break in the action. A couple weeks off is always good, but the boys and STEPH live for the show, and a week without a CHALLENGE is no kind of week at all. The CRUE is a special family and the CHALLENGE is our creed. The JANESVILLE group was great. Led by KEVIN MURRAY (JANESVILLE FD) and HOME DEPOT, the local support was overwhelming. A host of people came together to make the CHALLENGE feel at home. Scores of volunteers made the whole set-up/tear-down thing really smooth. A huge tip-of-the-hat to everybody in the city of JANESVILLE for throwing a great CHALLENGE!

It was a beautiful day in JANESVILLE, and the peeps were out in droves to witness the CHALLENGE spectacle. Over a hundred firefighters had answered the call of the course and were ready to put it on the line and race for CHALLENGE glory. KEITH DUTTON (Village of NILES, IL) blessed the crowd with the anthems and the teams stood ready for what was to come. The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS opened the day and SAN ANGELO along with WINDSOR looked tough. BATTLE CREEK really looked smooth and ran hard, bringing home 3rd. The championship round did indeed come down to SAN ANGELO, who were running with 3 guys and still whipping the competition, against WINDSOR. WINDSOR is way too good though to race with only three- SAN ANGELO showed some real CHALLENGE spirit but fell short in the end. The mighty, mighty WINDSOR took the win. SAN ANGELO did move a little closer in points, now trailing SAM SQUAD by only 10 in the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. A shout-out to ELKHART for a good showing.

The list of cities and states and countries are numerous: WISCONSIN, OHIO, FLORIDA, TENNESSEE, NORTH CAROLINA, ILLINOIS, TEXAS, INDIANA, MICHIGAN, PENNSYLVANIA, KENTUCKY, plus more and the CANADIANS, all together on the course. The peeps were in for a treat. The ladies showed their skills and alot of CHALLENGE spirit first. LIBBY HUGHES of RURAL/METRO (KNOXVILLE, TN) ran the fastest women's time of the year, a 3:00.77, just beating the QUEEN BEE'S (SAMANTA WASHINGTON) mark by fractions, to win first place. The real story and what was without a doubt, the emotional high of the show, belonged to SHERI JACKSON (GREENSBORO, NC). She had come to JANESVILLE after only being on the job one week. New to the profession as well as the CHALLENGE, SHERI came out a day early to check out the whole CHALLENGE, and the monster course that called to her. It was going to be hard, but anything worth having is worth working for, and she didn't come this far to not do the best she could. SHERI ripped up the course, and ran a strong 3:13 in her first CHALLENGE! And she left it all on the course in doing so. She went 110% and never looked back, never even thought about how much it was going to hurt, and showed the CHALLENGE fellowship that there's a new girl on TOUR 03. SHERI JACKSON- CHALLENGE rookie, future star.  ERICA LOGSTON of BYRON was 3rd with a solid run.

DAVE CUSACK (LYONS-MUIR, MI) took the over 50 title and now has 125 points. JANESVILLE was DAVE'S 55th CHALLENGE and I'm sure we will see him break 60 before the end of TOUR 03. It was great to see BILL NOLAND (PALATINE, IL) on the course again. At age 60, he is a true throwback to a by-gone era of the storied past of the CHALLENGE. And, of course, no visit to the CHALLENGE by BILL is complete without a demonstration of the "WILLY-WALK". Yes, there was a time when you couldn't run at the CHALLENGE, but the WILLY-WALK changed that, so thank him next time your legs are ready to melt after a run. The over 40 division is the toughest class out there, the comp is deep and times are fast. BRET YUNDT (WEST LAFAYETTE) won with a 1:39 and is the man to beat. BRET is always cool and ready to run, and willing to CHALLENGE himself against the best at any time. KEVIN TJELLE (DEKALB) was second, nursing a sore arm. KEVIN ran a 1:40. SUDBURY, CANADA'S JIMMY KOLAR was 3rd. JOE HORTON (LARGO, FL) moved one step closer to the points title, gaining 4 more on MICHAEL ANDERSON (YORK CITY, PA). JOHN ROBBINS (M&M, OH) is still hanging on, but the championship is seeming to lean to the MIKE and BIG JOE show.

The city of WINDSOR lies across the river from DETROIT. It's a very cool place to be and of course it's home to the fastest firefighters in the world over the last couple of tours. The JANESVILLE CHALLENGE was a showcase of pure skill by the mighty, mighty WINDSOR. Taking the top three places, and five out of the top eight, it was WINDSOR'S day. DARREN HILLMAN ran the fastest time of TOUR 03, a very smooth 1:28.44. It was a great run and DARREN was pumped to find out that at that moment, he was indeed the fastest firefighter in the world in 2003. CHALLENGE glory can be fleeting sometimes. The very next run, JACK BAILEY put down a 1:27.87, another textbook run and the peeps loved it. It's always cool to see the best at work. ROB FAWCETT ran a 1:35 to fill the podium with WINDSOR-TEAM EAS members. These guys rock at the CHALLENGE and put on a great show. They work hard and are always ready on race day and their results speak for themselves- TEAM EAS first place in the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS, TEAM, top three places INDIVIDUAL, a complete WINDSOR sweep. Nice work by the boys from CANADA. TEAM SERVICEMASTER all the way from THUNDER BAY, CANADA took second in the team division with a 5:41 to WINDSORS 4:31. That's just sick, sub fives are expected. Again, the CRUE has been watching the CITY OF FLORENCE, KY team and their progress over the last year. And we say they are the most improved team on TOUR 03. It's great to see the CHALLENGE spirit in full force at work on this team. They are great to be around and the peeps can feel their energy. It was with great pride that they accepted their first ever REALWHEELS PLAQUE for a sweet third place time of 5:51. Keep up the hard work men!

JANESVILLE is a nice city and it's always an adventure wherever the CHALLENGE roams. It can be pretty "normal" one second and the next, a CRUE member could be getting attacked by a "killer goose". Yes, that's right. A rouge, diabolical, monster goose chased him from the parking lot to the safety of the OASIS MOTEL lobby. I can't say I've ever seen that before, but it's just another thing about TOUR 03 I'll never forget. Don't fool with mother nature friends. Life's hardest lessons are the toughest to learn, and the tour is what counts. The peeps long for the CHALLENGE, and the CRUE will go to any lengths to bring it to them. ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA and the golden state is where the CHALLENGE can be found next. Home of the ANGELS and resting place for the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE TOUR 2003 for a few short days. Act fast and be the first on your block to make plans to attend. Don't be left out, go to a CHALLENGE and go home happy. See you there.................



JUNE 20TH & 21ST


Tour '03 entered the southeast region for round 6 and more adventures. First off, the CRUE is really loves any city with the name BEACH attached to it. The MYRTLE BEACH group led by DENNIS PICARD and MICHAEL MEDEIROS really throw a great CHALLENGE. The CHALLENGE has never been to MYRTLE BEACH before, but we know for sure its going to return again and again. With the pyramid of the HARD ROCK and palm trees as its setting, the BROADWAY AT THE BEACH looked very cool with the addition of the CHALLENGE. HORRY COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE went over the top to make sure the CRUE was well stocked with help, and again the boys could be found poolside on set-up day. This is a trend we could grow accustomed to, but we won't because it helps keep us grounded. DENNIS, MICHAEL and all the troops had taken care of every need and gave the CRUE the support that's needed to put on a top notch CHALLENGE.

The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS were held on Friday on what more than one competitor told me was a great course, "fast and flat" were the words through the tent area. TEAM STIHL (Virginia Beach), TRAVIS A.F.B. (CA), WINSTON-SALEM, RIVERIA BEACH,the HORRY COUNTY boys, MIAMI-DADE, and of course you know what number SAM SQUAD, and the first appearance on Tour '03 of the mighty, mighty WINDSOR, last year's World Champions, plus a cast of thousands (or 100) made up the field. The seeding rounds went pretty much as normal, the teams you would expect to see move up did so. The CHALLENGE was running smooth, the peeps were really going crazy, the teams were planning their moves, the CRUE was in the zone, and then from out of the CAROLINA sky came what we call in KANSAS a real "frog strangler." It rained so hard that the NIEDNER HOSE dividing the carpets was underwater. Everybody in the area took shelter under whatever they could, the show was put on hold, and a certain member of the CRUE was even spotted breaking the land speed record when after holding up in the TOC (tactical opps. center) directly beneath the tower, a bolt of lightning and huge crack of thunder resounded through the course, sending him on a sprint that CARL LEWIS would have been proud of, across the course in search of a new dwelling. And then just as quick as it came, the storm was gone. The CAROLINA skies cleared and the CHALLENGE resumed with little damage. TEAM CHESTERFIELD gets the call for best of the new teams rolling to the round of eight. The quarterfinals saw an epic battle between WINSTON-SALEM and MIAMI-DADE, the teams fought hard and ran fast. At the line, seven one hundreths of a second is what came between moving on or watching on the sidelines. MIAMI-DADE moved to the semi's. The mighty, mighty WINDSOR looked great and moved through the day smoothly. SAM SQUAD is for real this tour, and the two would meet to decide the championship. The start belonged to SAM SQUAD and the race was on. It seemed odd to see WINDSOR fighting from behind, but they came back quickly. The peeps again were watching a great race, and then once more, for the second week in a row, I could hear that a penalty would decide the outcome. WINDSOR had crossed the finish line ahead but a KEISER issue sealed their fate. SAM SQUAD, was way too close to give any room and took another victory on Tour '03. TRAVIS A.F.B. played tough and took third with a CHALLENGE welcome back to HARRY MEYERS, a TRAVIS team member who came to Tour '03 by way of BAGHDAD. Thanks man!

On Saturday, the weather was a distant memory, and it was another Chamber of Commerce day in MYRTLE BEACH. The ladies always put on a show and DEERFIELD BEACH'S SAMANTHA "QUEEN BEE" WASHINGTON put down a nice 3:00 run to win the day. Also showing some nice CHALLENGE spirit at the line, LIBBY HUGHES and SHENAH FLORES rounded out the top three. Good job by PHYLLIS PLATH from WINSTON-SALEM running against the younger set. LIBBY HUGHES of RURAL/ METRO now leads in the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP with 55 points. JESSE WALKER topped the over 50s, GREENSBORO'S finest ran a 2:12. CHUCK LeBLANC and DAVE CUSACK continue their winning ways and DAVE is now involved in the tightest points race; one point is the measure between him and GREG KNIGHT. BRAD DUNCAN of CHARLOTTE won over 40 with a 1:49, BERNIE RAY 2nd and JOE HORTON 3rd and JOE'S points lead is now 10 over YORK CITY'S MICHAEL ANDERSON. The start order for the gentlemen looked like a "who's who" of the CHALLENGE and the top 25 ran sub two's, eight sub 100's, and yes, for the first time on Tour 03, two sub 90's. Did the show rock? As my lovely assistant LISA will always tell you, "YES", and four seconds between the top five said that as well. ERIC AKER or the "freak" as his team calls him, ran a 1:29.87 for his first ever sub 90 on just his 5th CHALLENGE, come on that's wrong. But JACK BAILEY from WINDSOR busted out another textbook run with a 1:29.54 and another win. SAM SQUAD'S ERIC AKER leads the points with 102, the first three digit total on the board. MIKE MELTON of TRAVIS A.F.B. ran with JACK BAILEY in a rematch of last year's feature race at Worlds and was only ticks behind the pace for 3rd. The mighty, mighty WINDSOR is a sick team ladies and gentlemen, they smashed the 5 minute mark with a 4:41 and had 4 sub 100's. Last years World Champs are looking strong as ever and will be hard to beat. TEAM TRAVIS posted a 4:55 for 2nd and remember this is a new team on its second try. TRAVIS will be another team hard to beat and will not settle for 2nd. SAM SQUAD came home 3rd and are points leaders with 100.

The CHALLENGE is filled with stars and people who try hard, each one just as important in the cycle of the CHALLENGE. You can cheer for FT. BLISS and RAMON ORTEGA'S 4:13, or SCOTT STEEL out of RIVERIA BEACH, who less than one year ago suffered a heat attack and is back on the tour and running sub two's. Watching the "Queen Bee" dance at the line, or seeing the "freak" bust a sub 90. Each one, just as important, and to the CHALLENGE fellowship just as emotional. It's a good thing the testing of one's skills. It brings out the best in a person whether you win or not. The CHALLENGE spirit remains the same no matter what the scoreboard reads. And the peeps can't help but feel it too.

MYRTLE BEACH is in the mirrors and Tour '03 moves ahead. The CRUE won't forget its first trip to the BEACH and will be back again to HORRY COUNTY one day soon. The CHALLENGE fellowship turns it attention to JANESVILLE, WI to see what comes next. The gypsy souls of the CRUE already grow restless to build a CHALLENGE. Tour '03 is in full swing and we're not going away. The CHALLENGE course calls to the fellowship and the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE rides again.



JUNE 14TH, 2003


Round 5 of the SCOTT FIFEFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE moved north to ROCKFORD and another SAFETY FEST celebration, last weekend. Most of the CRUE had a couple weeks off (with the exception of a couple die hard live for the road two tour types) and were rested and ready to rock. SLADE BERRY and MARK MARINARO always work overtime to assure the CHICAGO area CHALLENGE is a smooth one. The ROCKFORD F.D. was out to help the CRUE and once again, the boys ripped through set-up with apparent ease. "I guess we've done this a time or two." SAFETY FEST is a great event, and young and old alike enjoy a full array of cool things to do. And like always the mighty CHALLENGE dominates the proceedings.         

A pattern is developing and the ROCKFORD event is in sheer numbers, the biggest CHALLENGE of the tour. Last year 160 men and women took the CHALLENGE; this year 120 was the number. Sure it makes for a long day for the CRUE, but its great to see the CHALLENGE fellowship is strong in the upper midwest. ROCKFORD, M&M, EVENDALE, BYRON, EVANSVILLE, CINNCINATTI, ELKART, MORTONS GROVE, the always tough WAUKEGAN, BLOOMINGTON, and the new studs of the CHALLENGE, BLUFF CITY ELITE were a few to take the course and rule the region. A small FLORIDA invasion including MIAMI DADE, CORAL GABLES, and LARGO made the trip to show once again, that "if we build a CHALLENGE they will come."

The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS lived up to the notion that, "it ain't over till it's over." The ladies from BLOOMINGTON, MN ruled and CHALLENGE newcomers, SOMMERS put on a good show. Usually girls just want to have fun, but when it comes to the CHALLENGE, it's game faces all around, and serious athletes come to the forefront. The ladies know how it's done, and can make it happen on the course. The guys play hard, and one STREAMLIGHT FLASHLIGHT can make or break the hopes and dreams between the banner lines. EVENDALE and EVANSVILLE emerged from the pack to do battle for the championship. MR. EDWARDS set the wheels into motion and they were off. The teams were evenly matched and the fine peeps were treated to a good CHALLENGE. EVANSVILLE started to gain an ever so small advantage, but "EEEEEEEEEE TRAIN" EVENDALE fought back at the line. While all the while, I was hearing rumblings of the dreaded penalties over the waves, both teams were guilty of infractions. The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS were to be decided on a "lesser of two evils" call. The CRUE gathered and sorted out the race. Even though EVANSVILLE finished ahead of EVENDALE, the penalty bug had taken a bigger bite from their total and EVENDALE was the winner. First time winners, after many tries, EVENDALE stood in victory and were displaying the CHALLENGE spirit with pride. ELKART placed 3rd and looked good . Penalties are all part of the game and they can "giveth" or "taketh" away. Run hard. Run clean. Win the CHALLENGE!

The over 50 guys came in numbers to run the course. JAMES NEVILLE took the win with a nice 2:09. This guy does NOT look 54. He runs like a 30 something kind of kid. Look for CHIEF JAMES NEVILLE to do some damage at Worlds. PALENTINE'S JOHN FORSBURG took 2nd. The over 40 dudes are killer this year. You've got to watch these guys. It will be the best points race in the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. A diverse group from across the nation are going for this thing. And it looks like it will go down to the last race. LARGO, FLORIDA'S "BIG" JOE HORTON and YORK, PENNSYLVANIA'S MICHAEL ANDERSON came to ROCKFORD tied for the points lead. Two time over 40 world champion BRET YUNDT from WEST LaFAYETTE always runs great and  took the win with a 1:38. His goal is to break the current record of 1:32 and he will make it happen. Challenge "regular" and star KEVIN TJELLE from Dekalb placed 2nd and JOE HORTON took 3rd, with the points lead going back to LARGO...But only by 3 points. MICHAEL ANDERSON is hanging tough! A big CHALLENGE "welcome back" goes out to ERICA LOGSTON from BYRON who took a year off to start a family and won the women's class, 4:22 was the time. Nice work ERICA, we missed you.

In the heat of the day in DAVIS PARK, the CHALLENGE stood high and loomed with a sort of mac abe calling, "this is going to hurt but I am so ready to do it." The best of the bravest would leave it on the course for the peeps. RICK STEPHENS came from MIAMI to win. He looked determined the day before, and was in his usual race trim on game day. He knew more than anybody that the competition would be daunting, and JOEL VERBRICK from WAUKEGAN had the same plans, and would test his resolve. Both raced hard, and at the line, MIAMI DADE'S RICK STEPHENS had ran a 1:31 for the win. That's the fastest time of the year on TOUR 03. He's always been known as the fastest firefighter in FLORIDA, now you can say he's the fastest firefighter in the UNITED STATES so far this season .VERBRICK ran a smooth 1:35 for 2nd and looked strong. BLUFF CITY'S ERIC NEAL rounded out the podium with a 1:38. And again the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE showed everybody that they are the best team of TOUR 03. Not only do they lead in points for the team division of the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, but also have the second highest point total in the male division with Eric Neal. They make a big noise on the course and its sub 100's all around. They are running consistent sub 5 minute team times with ease. Look out CHALLENGE, the MEMPHIS crowd is here, and their takin' names. WAUKEGAN brought home 2nd with BYRON (bullhorn and all) running 3rd. A shout goes out to the city of FLORENCE, KENTUCKY team. The CRUE could tell they've worked hard over the off season and it showed. Good job guys!

There comes a time when even the CHALLENGE takes second to life itself. We lost a part of the CHALLENGE fellowship recently, as GARY STARKEY of M&M (MALTA McCONNELSVILLE, OH) will no longer grace the Challenge carpets. He just wanted to run a sub two. His teammates looked to him as a inspiration to get better, work harder, and love the CHALLENGE. JOHN ROBBINS, last years over 40 TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION, shared his CHALLENGE spirit and they worked together to chase the dream. JOHN ROBBINS ran in ROCKFORD with a heavy heart and I know it was hard for him to take the course that day. When it came time to run, I know he felt that GARY would be with him in spirit. JOHN ran for GARY, his friends and family, and the rest of the CHALLENGE fellowship. A sub two was the mark and JOHN ROBBINS carried something more across the line with him that day in ROCKFORD. He ran because GARY wouldn't have it any other way, and his CHALLENGE could live on through him. And it did............JOHN ROBBINS and GARY STARKEY, together one more time on the course.

The TOUR is full of highs and lows, the CHALLENGE rolls down the road. RON and BILLY cover miles upon miles. More planes, and the boys will gather soon in MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA and build another CHALLENGE. KRAFTY, J-PAC, our fearless leader JBIRD, along with STEPH, DR. PAUL and yours truly, invite you to check it out for yourself. And "thank you" to the CHALLENGE fellowship for a great start in 03, to the greatest public servant action sport on the face of the planet, the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE!!


MAY 24TH & 25TH, 2003


Once again, the CHALLENGE came to LITTLE ROCK, and round 4 of the tour 03. It's hard to think the CRUE has crossed half the nation a couple of times, racked up 1000's of air miles, rolled over the pavement in over 14 states, made new friends, and seen almost 300 competitors, and its still only May!! It's going to be, and has been a great tour this year, coming to the CHALLENGE is a MUST this season.

The LITTLE ROCK people, led by Mr. RONNIE HUDSON are great hosts. I heard that the CAPTIAN raised every dime and went to great lengths to bring in the mighty CHALLENGE to town. Something along the lines of the usual fund raisers, selling his time share in KEY WEST, and committing himself to indentured servitude for the next 43 years to an unknown party. Needless to say RONNIE is into, and throws a GREAT CHALLENGE

The course was adorned by dual ladder trucks from NORTH LITTLE ROCK FD on saturday and another CHALLENGE ruled the streets of LITTLE ROCK! Right from the start of the WORLD FAMOUS BILL EDWARDS call the CHALLENGE rocked. KATRINA DREWRY of MEMPHIS, who after many attempts, came out and proved again, that with a lot of work and CHALLENGE spirit, you can make it happen. Her time sent her to OTTAWA and the peeps couldn't be happier, way to go KATRINA. The guys took the course with, the likes of  SAMS SQUAD,the mighty BLUFF CITY ELITE,TEAM USO of LITTLE ROCK, newly dubbed TEAM DIET DR. PEPPER from PLANO, and a host of others. Folks if you haven't heard already, there's a new sheriff in town, and his name is WILLIAM "ERIK" AKER. ERIK THE GREAT maybe. This dude can haul, he WILL go sub 90 sometime very soon. A couple fumbles on the tower and slip, here and there, cost him some time, at least, and still he ran a 1:32. One more time, he's only run the CHALLENGE 4 times!!!!!!!! I can't wait till he gets good. ERIK, another proud member of SAM SQUAD and the USMC. STEPHEN BORSKI of TEAM DIET DR. PEPPER, PLANO'S finest ran a sweet 1:37 for 2nd. But what can you say, BLUFF CITY ELITE are monsters. These guys have 4 sub 100 members and play hard. KEITH DREWRY represented for the team with 3rd. But 40% of the top 10 boar the BLUFF CITY banner.

A cool story outside the top ten was when RICKY GARZA from DIET DR. PEPPER smashed his PR by over 20 seconds, putting down a nice 1:48. Ricky was to say the least, overcome with the CHALLENGE joy. I love it when a plan comes together. His energy was refreshing, and its great to see. But the highlight of the season was to take place before the CHALLENGE even started, with the return of none other than TED OVERCASH. Words fail to even come close to the honor it was to walk with TED as he took the course in anger for the first time since his bout with cancer. That's right cancer. TED has fought the good fight,  since his crowning as the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION at worlds last year. Under going major surgery 11 weeks prior to the event, TED is the epitome of the CHALLENGE spirit. Showing his DRAGMAN tattoo like a 20 year old, and looking every bit like the TED we love. He will never have to prove his bravery in any other fashion. I've got to say, after his run, TED looked pretty pale, he hadn't been able to train because of the obvious reasons, and the course took its toll on the toughest man on the planet. A wall of the CHALLENGE fellowship rushed to his aid. The outpouring was for all to see that TED had made it once more, to the finish line, and respect was the feeling among the peeps. Still TED did look really Hanis, I was concerned. It wasn't ten minutes later, that I heard the MARSHALL over my headset, "TED'S in the tent and wants to help". There stood TED, in the tent and looking fresh as when he showed up that morning. This guy is a man among men ladies and gentlemen, enough said.

BLUFF CITY ELITE ruled the team title on a 5:04. They already went under 5:00 this tour and like I said before are a hot team. LITTLE ROCK'S USO brought home the second spot and SAM SQUAD rounded out the top teams. Honorable mention goes out to SPRINGFIELD, MO. appearing on the course for the first time in TOUR 03.

Sunday and the STREAMLIGHT RELAYS. A fog settled across the LITTLE ROCK sky and the rain from the night before seemed to be subsiding. Again the CHALLENGE course would command the best from the best. The first round saw the fastest time of the season so far. A 1:17 from number one in your hearts SAM SQUAD is the measure thus far. Of course the mighty CORINTH came from MISSISSIPPI to take names, TYLER, TEAM DR.. PEPPER out of ALTUS, OK, with CHALLENGE first timers NORMAN, OK, hoped to make their marks as well. The boys from CORINTH had the day cut short, when in a never before called crossing lanes penalty befell them. The STREAMLIGHT FLASHLIGHT flew out of their hands and across into the other lane, resulting in a 5 second "out-of-lane" penalty. Give credit to JASON "the PARTY ANIMAL" CANNON for his keen insight on all things CHALLENGE. He knew about the rarely used portion of the CHALLENGE rule book and acted upon it. It was a good call, and for the same reason as the dropping the light off the tower. It is intended to keep the CHALLENGE safe, nice work by the CRUE member. TEAM KA-PING from MEMPHIS ran hard, but TEAM DR. PEPPER took 3rd running a 1:27. The championship would again be all lone star state. SAM SQUAD and TYLER squared off between the banners to claim braggers rights. SAM SQUAD stood the test, and a 1:18 was the time. Another win for the DOD.

LITTLE ROCK is a fun town and the CRUE always soaks up the RIVERFEST a bit. The CHALLENGE can be tuff on the CRUE sometimes, but they wouldn't have it any other way. The energy that they get from the CHALLENGE and its fellowship can not be measured. We will return again to the fine city in ARKANSAS, and throw another CHALLENGE. Till then ROCKFORD, IL is beckoning the CHALLENGE and its CRUE to make sure that the gospel of the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE spreads across this great nation of ours! Run away with the CHALLENGE and join us won't you.......   



MAY 16TH & 17TH, 2003    


The CHALLENGE tour moved from the heat of TEXAS to an even hotter FLORIDA for round three of the 2003 SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE. Hotter yes, but this is one of the premier sites for the mighty CHALLENGE and CRUE. With the pristine beach as our back drop, the CHALLENGE always looks great. Nobody seems to mind the sweltering temps, and a this place is the best feeling resounds among the competitors and peeps alike. Jim Mathie and the DEERFIELD gang are so on top of this event,and the CRUE was to want for nothing. The BEACH BLOWOUT is a very cool event, and the CHALLENGE stands high atop proceedings. And of all the places on tour,this is truly a place that I think I could live!!!                               

The CORPORATE CUP CHALLENGE, was held for the second time at the beach, with last years winner NORTH BROWARD HOSPITAL  "PSYCH WARD", thinking they had it again, but the CITY OF DEERFIELD BEACH emerged victorious. The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS followed on friday evening. Much of FLORIDA was represented with the likes of MIAMI, BOCA RATON, FT. LAUDERDALE, LARGO, GAINESVILLE, a tough ORANGE COUNTY team, as well as CHALLENGE regulars, Team RIVIERA BEACH. Team STIHL of VIRGINA BEACH was back for another assault on the points race and the BOMBEROS made the journey from PUERTO RICO to add a little spice to the show. But missing from the course were last years TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONS in the female relay division, the DEERFIELD GIRLS, out due to injury. The girls said to look for them soon at a CHALLENGE near you.                             

The ladies put on a great show with the FLORIDA FIRE FORCE pretty much dominating the course, certainly a team to contend for some more wins this tour. The round of 16 for the men went as predicted, with TEAM STIHL seeming like the team to beat. With FT LAUDERDALE and GAINESVILLE rising from the pack, the stage was set. The showdown at sundown, the CHALLENGE under lights, the battle at BEACH BLOWOUT. VIRGINIA BEACH faced FT LAUDERDALE in the semi's, when a missed delineator put a 5 second penalty on STIHL'S clock. They knew they had to really tear, or lose. A huge push was made to the line, but in the end the wrong turn proved to be the downfall, but only by one second, remember its not over till its over. TEAM STIHL took third back to VIRGINIA BEACH. PALM BEACH COUNTY played hard but GAINESVILLE moved into the championship round to face a very strong FT LAUDERDALE. The spotlights were shining on the team from FT LAUDERDALE that night on the beach and with a time of 1:27, sent GAINESVILLE to the second step of the podium.                                 

SATURDAY the course was hot, the peeps were oiled up, and a feeling of electricity filled the BEACH. The heat is going to rise a little around the CHALLENGE today. CANADA'S Team SURRY from BRITISH COLUMBIA, EDWARDS A.F.B., YORK, PENNSYLVANIA, and PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND made the pilgrimage to test the course. MIAMI DADE, CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, and ORANGE COUNTY, the names we know and love, were all on the BEACH to burn. The DEERFIELD crowd was vocal, and was treated to a great day of CHALLENGE action. The feature race of the day, pitted the fastest firefighter in FLORIDA and last years runner-up in the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, MIAMI DADE'S RICK STEPHENS vs. SURRY'S strong man, SAVERIO LATTANZIO. The two were even at the top of the tower, both rope-pulls were outstanding and only a step or two was the measure as they hit the KEISER machine. Two different styles were on display as the CANADIAN'S long strokes sounded like THOR himself was on the course, while the FLORIDIAN'S flurry of hammer strikes kept a powerful cadence. As they ran through the doors toward Rescue Randy, SAVERIO'S lead was still there, but RICK runs tough and made a charge. In the end, LATTANZIO claimed the win with a 1:33. Look for MIAMI DADE'S RICK STEPHENS to take one of these events soon. LONNIE LEWIS of CHESTERFIELD claimed third with another nice sub 100.                                  

BERNIE RAY from PALM BEACH won the over 40 with a 1:48 time, only three-quarters of a second over JOE HORTON, who now leads in the points. Last year's GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPION, JOHN ROBBINS, came down from OHIO and used the event as a tune-up and placed third. The word among the CRUE is the over 40s are going to be the guys to watch, with lots of heavy hitters. SARASOTA'S LARRY HINDS took over 50 honors and LIBBY HUGHES doing KNOXVILLE, TENNESSE proud, won the female division on her first try with a 3:25.                                    

A highlight came in the woman's races when after failing in her first 3 attempts, DONNA LUCE used her CHALLENGE experience as inspiration to work hard, practice,and come back with one thing in mind- To come to the course and kick some CHALLENGE butt. And that's just what she did, not only finishing strong, but qualifying for Worlds in OTTAWA as well!! These are the things that the CHALLENGE is all about my friends. All of PROVIDENCE is cheering, and the CHALLENGE spirit lives again.                                     

Life rolls along, and the CRUE moves on, another time, one more CHALLENGE. The peeps await new dangers, and more thrill-packed adventures. The firefighters toil in the heat to ready themselves. And the SCOTT trailer carries the goods toward LITTLE ROCK and chapter 4, in the continuing saga of the FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE...........



MAY 10TH & 11TH, 2003


Round 2 of the SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE moved south into Katy, Texas last weekend. The weather in the Houston area was hot and muggy, and the competition was blazing.                         

Some of the usual suspects were on hand, as well as a lot of first timers. The CRUE was already hitting their stride, and felt right at home on the CHALLENGE course. The hosts, led by JERRY HAACK and the KATY WAL-MART, were very helpful and made room for our BIGGER, BADDER, MORE POWERFUL CHALLENGE. The set-up was smooth and the boys of the CRUE even had time to relax poolside for once. A huge tip-of-the-hat goes out to the Katy folks for making that possible.

The STREAMLIGHT RELAYS took place on Saturday. San Angelo, beaming with confidence from their victory last week, was more than ready to prove it was no fluke by making it two in a row. Team Travis, made up almost entirely of new faces, made the trip from Cal. to test-fire the team. Sam Squad and Tyler, as well as Team Dr Pepper from Altus OK and the famous Fire Fros from El Paso, now dawning their new for tour 03 Super Hero personas, were all in attendance. The massive 23 member West I-10 team, and CHALLENGE new-bees, Angelina College plus the debut of the Chicas Caliente Houston lady's team, all wanted to test their metal against the best and the CHALLENGE course.

The racing was intense and competitive. The Chicas came right out and ripped a run in the low 2:30s making a statement right away, that they would be a team to be reckoned with. Watch out ladies, there's some new girls on the course. The gentlemen took the stage and put on a great show. Rookies Angelina College fought to the quarterfinals and looked good. But new favorites San Angelo and SAM Squad, were to meet in another all-Texas final. San Angelo put in a valiant effort, but Sam Squad was to prevail. The Fire Fros from El Paso completed the all Texas podium. I can't begin to say how bad I feel that this reporter became part of the news, when in a, I wonder if I left the toaster on at home moment, took one too many steps and bang. Did anyone get the number of that truck? Fred Barnett, who one week earlier had stood in victory, now lay on the course, along with me. It was ruled not to change the outcome, but still...................look both ways before crossing the railroad tracks kids.

Sunday brought a new day and a new CHALLENGE. The teams lined up to go, and the race was on. The mighty Sam Squad and the Fros from El Paso looked the strongest on paper, with Travis AFB the dark horse. The untested version of Travis looked great, and Shenah Flores qualified for Worlds on her first attempt with a 3:52, leaving it all on the course. Sam Squad though had won the event last season. And of course the Super Hero edition of  El Paso are always smooth and cool as the other side of the pillow. The dust settled and by .03 seconds, number 241 in your programs but number one in your hearts, Sam Squad stood atop the El Paso team. Three tenths of a second folks, its going to be a great season. And just like that, Sam Squad claims three crowns- STREAMLIGHT RELAY, INDIVIDUAL, and TEAM CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!

A new star is starting to emerge on tour 03. William Aker of Sam Squad is not only leading in points for the TUMS GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP with 55, and one of the newest members of the sub 100 club, but has only run the CHALLENGE 3 times! This guy runs hard and fast.

The emotional high of the day belonged to Leon Visneau of Westlake. At practice the day before, he spoke of a new PR, and 2:20 would be the mark to shoot for. After crossing the line at 2:05, Leon could not tame his feelings.  No rebel yell anywhere could have matched the pure elation that permeated the entire crowd behind him 100%, than the one Leon set free. Winning the over 40 class. Another goal set, another dream realized, between the red and blue banners.

Yes the hopes and dreams of many a firefighter- the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. So goes the CHALLENGE. Now onto the paradise of DEERFIELD BEACH and more history.........



MAY 3RD, 2003


The 2003 SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE TOUR, rolled into action last week at the annual TOAD SUCK DAZE. Yes, once again, the CRUE was all assembled, and ready to rock. After months of prep the CHALLENGE was on the road. Clearly the most dramatic change was the debut of RON BECKMANS most monolithic creation to date, the SCOTT TRAILER- 52 feet of "hey people, the CHALLENGE is in town, and were not going away until you experience our show," KENTUCKY trailer. Complete with 45 foot KRAFTY FLAMES, an 8 foot DRAGMAN, and a NASCAR quality ramp system conceived and constructed by the MARSHALL himself, every aspect of the new ride is totally customized to our needs, and is a sight to behold.

The hosts were great and worked hard to make sure it was a special stop on the tour, providing lots of help for the entire stay. The peeps were out in force and ready for a great show, the sun was shining, and the stage was set for the first race of TOUR 03.         

The competition was spirited and intense. And in one unforgettable moment, a CHALLENGE first- a TIE! Never before in the storied past of the CHALLENGE has this occurred. After already going head to head in the seeding round, the mighty CORINTH faced tour perennial and hopeful SAN ANGELO. CORINTH grabbed the lead and they were not looking back. With at least a 4 second lead at the dummy, victory seemed at hand. But like a bad habit, SAN ANGELO was not going away. With what can only be described as a monster heartfelt display of CHALLENGE spirit, FRED BARNETT of SAN ANGELO picked up RANDY and hauled the mail. At the midway point you could feel the excitement beginning to swell to a pitch. There was a sense that something was going to break. Both teams put in max effort at the line for that last second, or might I say last hundredth of a second lunge for the line. The smoke cleared and the crowd looked to the clock for resolve, but none was given. A TIE, an absolute down-to-the-wire TIE. The CRUE gathered at center course in amazement. The decision came down and the teams would  run again. In the ensuing match, SAN ANGELO prevailed after a fall by CORINTH. SAN ANGELO went on to win the first STREAMLIGHT RELAYS of the young season. The day was dominated though by BLUFF CITY ELITE with 3 guys in the top four. OUCH! These guys are tough as nails and ready to win right now with the whole team looking at sub 100's soon.         

All in all, the feeling among the tour CRUE was like we had never stopped. Life is one big tour and the CHALLENGE lives on. One more summer in the sun, and where else should we be but bringing the CHALLENGE to the peeps all across this great nation of ours for yet another year. Now onto KATY............and glory.

Just some thoughts from the course...