SILVER CREEK - No 4.5 mile race is easy, but adding firefighting-themed obstacles into the mix creates a unique challenge.
The Hero Rush is "the tough, crazy, fear-facing fun 4-5 mile race with 17-plus totally unique firefighter and "hero" themed obstacles," according to its website.
After hearing about the Hero Rush's first appearance in Western New York by chance, eight Silver Creek firefighters decided to give it a shot.
Pictured from left, back row: Steve Quinn, Joe Kapa, Brandyn Griewisch, Tom Bertino Jr. and Tim Bertino; front row: Jon Valenti, Brianna Griewisch and Nick Hogg, participants in WNY Hero Rush, all from the Silver Creek Fire Department.
"One of the guys in the fire hall had posted on Facebook that Hero Rush was coming to Chestnut Ridge Park. We watched the video and me and my wife, Brianna, decided we were going to do it," Silver Creek Assistant Chief Brandyn Griewisch said. "We kept talking about it and other members of the department said they wanted to do it too."
Griewisch said the rush was like nothing he has done before.
"It's a firefighter-themed event. I've never done anything like it before. I don't want to say it was the hardest thing I have ever done but it was definitely one of the hardest things. Putting out a fire is hard work but so are 19 obstacles and a 4.5 mile run."
According to Hero Rush's website. obstacles include climbing ladders, crawling through smoky hallways, sliding down poles, racing through debris, carrying a victim and doing CPR.
Griewisch recalled the obstacles being training-related or from real life situations.
"There was a burn tower filled with smoke and you had to do a search like if there was a fire with possible people inside. At the beginning of the race we climbed some stairs and slid down a fire pole, we had to do trail running through the woods, we had to make forcible entry by jumping through a window and breaking down a door. We had to carry a 100 pound, 50 foot hose up a hill and down then back up and down again. We also had to do a basement breach and then climb out on a knotted hose like you would if there was no other way out in a fire," he said.
He explained it took the team of eight over an hour and a half to complete the course.
Griewisch said the team called themselves Battalion 1 Fire Brigade, because they had hoped to have members from the Sunset Bay and Forestville departments participate all of which are in the first battalion in Chautauqua County. Besides Griewisch and his wife, Steve Quinn, Joe Kapa, Tom Bertino Jr., Tim Bertino, Jon Valenti and Nick Hogg also participated from the Silver Creek Fire Department.
He said he is planning to participate next year but hopes to have more people from Chautauqua County join in.
"I would like to get a bigger group to go next year. I don't think a lot of people in the county knew about it this year and it was just by chance we found out about it ourselves. I hope we can get more firefighters from Chautauqua County to go next year because it really was 'tough, crazy and fear-facing fun," he said.
Hero Rush supports national charities like the National Fallen Firefighters Fund, The 343 Wave, the National Fire Fighters' Endowment and also localized charities. At WNY Hero rush some funds were raised for the families of the West Webster Fire Department firefighters who died during the Christmas Eve shooting last year.
The rush also does a special event for the 343 Wave, which honors the lives of the firefighters who perished in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Each participant running in the 343 Wave wears a commemorative racer's bib showing the name of one of the fallen heroes.
Griewisch said he would like to participate in this next year.
Hero Rush is held at 11 locations around the country and was held for the first time this year in Western New York at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park on June 8. Hero Rush also offers entertainment, food and a kids' obstacle course for spectators. For more information, go to Hero Rush's website at www.herorush.com.