On June 9, Father's Day, Ben Crew became the "toughest competitor alive" at the 2013 U.S. Police and Firefighter Championships in San Diego.
An apprentice firefighter at Vallejo station 22, Crew competed in the 30- to 39-year-old over 200 pound. male division. He placed first in the Toughest Competitor Alive and best overall. And with an overall score of 5,600, the 32-year-old was 400 points above the second best competitor.
Battalion Chief Dave Urrutia said the U.S. Police and Firefighter Championship, which began in 1967, is an Olympic style event with different categories.
Police and firefighters can compete in group events or, like Crew, compete solo in the Toughest Competitor Alive.
At the heart of it though, Urrutia said the competition is "basically about camaraderie amongst public service."
A former competitor himself, Urrutia said he told Crew about the USPFC because he is in "crazy shape."
"He beat a guy who went to worlds in 2011 and placed second," Urrutia said. "To me, it's a big deal."
Crew said this is not his first physical endurance competition. Prior to attending school to become an EMT/paramedic, Crew competed in triathlons and endurance runs. His last, in 2009, was an Iron Man competition that included a 2.4-mile swim.
The former electrician said he competed to break free of the monotony of 40-hour weeks.
" I went out and signed up for a short race and fell in love with the community," Crew said.
The endurance and fitness challenges also motivated Crew to become a firefighter.
"(Four years ago) at 28, I was like, 'wait, I'm doing a job I don't really love,' " Crew said. "[Firefighting] incorporated everything."
Crew said he did train a bit before he competed, but in general, fitness is just part of being a firefighter.
Regardless, he did get nervous since it had been awhile since his last competition.
To keep in shape he started CrossFit, a mix of aerobic, body weight and weight lifting. And he trained specifically for the events as they neared.
"Each event you get an idea of what you're shooting for," Crew said. "I was actually surprised that I did the 28 pull-ups. In practice I was only doing about 20."
Crew said the 28 pull-ups probably had something to do with the adrenaline and spectators involved in the event.
And everyone is sizing each other up, he said.
"There are some big dudes that look like they could win, but I figure they're not runners," Crew said.
At 6'3" Crew said he was, "kind of in the middle."
In the future Crew said he will compete again, and is also interested in the Firefighter Combat Challenge.
More specific to firefighters, the challenge requires competitors to wear full gear while performing such tasks as climbing a 5-story tower, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized 175 pound. dummy victim.
Another extension of camaraderie, where world law enforcement can compete, is the biannual World Police and Fire Games.
This year they will be held from Aug. 1 to Aug. 10.
Since his wife, Nicole, is due in October, the world games are a "maybe," Crew said.
"This year it's in Ireland, I think it would be great," he said. "But we'll see."
The Toughest competitor alive segment requires competitors to complete eight events, points are awarded for each event based on performance.
--5k Cross Country: 19 minutes (3.1 miles)
--Shotput: 10.2 meters (33.5 feet)
--100 meter dash: 12.8 seconds
--100 meter swim: 61 seconds
--20 foot rope climb: 6 seconds
--Bench press: 353 pounds
--Strict pull-ups: 28, one every three seconds
--Obstacle course: 1 minute and 14 seconds
Contact staff writer Marie F. Estrada at (707) 553-6840 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MarieVTH. ___