Firefighter-themed obstacle course staged in Clarksburg -- Gazette.Net


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Two weeks from now, Bob Egan’s 150-acre farm in Clarksburg will be decorated for a wedding.

But Saturday, Egan, who has owned High Point Farm since 1999, hosted about 1,500 people preparing for a 5K firefighter-themed obstacle course.

“It’s a little different for us,” he said.

The Hero Rush race, which is in its first year, is being held at 11 locations, including Clarksburg, according to Stuart Kaul, the event director.

He said the race, which supports the Washington, D.C., Firefighters Burn Foundation and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, expects to expand to as many as 22 locations next year.

Today’s event included 20 obstacles, including a burn building and a hazardous materials spill, intended to simulate situations faced by firefighters. In one obstacle, spectators sprayed the contestants with water as they ran by.

Dan Healy, 39, of Littlestown, Pa., is a battalion chief in Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue, and said he entered the race because he enjoys obstacle course challenges.

The race featured a competitive wave, as well as several noncompetitive waves. Healy was competing in wave 343 — the last wave of the day. It was dedicated to the 343 firefighters in New York City who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Healy said he, and the other entrants in that wave, would wear the name of a firefighter who died on their race bibs.

“It will be an honor representing them,” Healy said before the 5K began.

Fred Barton, 25, of Newport News, Va., raced with several of his fellow firefighters. Barton is a career firefighter in Newport News, but is also a volunteer at Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department in Bethesda, where he grew up.

Barton said he hoped his firefighter training would help him with the obstacles.

“We want to have fun, but we like to compete too,” he said. “Firefighters like to win.”

Not all of the Hero Rush competitors were firefighters.

Janet Snellbaker, of North Herndon, Va., said she has no firefighting experience, but she planned to dress the part. She changed out of her sweat pants and long-sleeved T-shirt before the race and into a yellow tutu, plastic firefighter’s hat and suspenders.

“It’s two days before my 43rd birthday,” she said. “I couldn’t think of a better thing to do.”

ecunningham@gazette.net