Race to promote fitness, benefit firefighter group

Mar. 22, 2013 @ 12:20 PM

Gatlinburg firefighters are gearing up to run or walk for charity this Saturday, to promote fitness among firefighters and the general public and to benefit the Gatlinburg Firefighter’s Association’s community education programs.

The second annual Fit for Duty Firefighter’s 5K Run and Walk will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in front of the Gatlinburg Fire Department at 1230 East Parkway.

Race director and fire prevention officer Amanda Perryman said the association started the race last year because cardiac disease is the number one cause of death for firefighters.

“So we’re promoting general fitness for firefighters, but also for everybody else; that’s the general theme,” Perryman said. “The money we raise helps support the Gatlinburg Firefighter’s Association, which funds our public education programs, our Fire and Life Safety Education programs and events, which include the smoke alarm program and the child safety seat program and all the stuff we do in the community.”

Men, women and children of all ages can participate in the race. The top three finishers in each age division will receive medals, and the top three overall male and female finishers will receive trophies.

Firefighters will compete in two special divisions: the Firefighter Challenge and the Clydesdale Challenge. Firefighters who choose to compete in the Firefighter Challenge have the option of wearing full turnout gear, which can weigh 40-60 pounds.

“It’s more challenging with the gear, but it’s fun,” Perryman said.

The firefighters are not required to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), but some choose to add that to their gear, too.

The Clydesdale Challenge is for firefighters who weigh 220 pounds or more. Participants in this division will not wear turnout gear.

“Usually those of us who are a little bigger aren’t necessarily the fastest, so this division gives those who are a little larger a chance to win a trophy also,” Perryman said.

Beginning at the fire department, the racers will follow a course out East Parkway toward Cosby for a mile and a half, then turn around and come back, finishing at the starting area.

“The course is flat almost the entire way,” Perryman said.

Last year, about 200 people participated in the race, raising around $5,000 for the association, Perryman said.

For race registration and information, call 436-5112 or visit the Gatlinburg Firefighter’s Association website at www.gatlinburgfire.org. Participants can also register on the day of the event, from 7:30-8:30 a.m.

rhargett@themountainpress.com