Fitness duty

Local firefighters' workout would challenge anyone
Ben Kennedy practices a 100-foot hose drag during training at Hillcrest Fire Station in Grants Pass. Julia Moore photoJulia Moore
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Miller logs an hour of CrossFit every morning when he's not working, followed by an hour and a half to two hours of weight training at another gym for muscle endurance. He occasionally runs a few miles on woodland trails near Jacksonville, in addition to repeated test runs at his Challenge section between the fire crew's calls.

"I just do my leg over and over again."

Miller's speed and agility clearly complement Kennedy's upper-body strength, gained during 15 to 20 hours of weekly training split evenly between cardiovascular, plyometric and weight workouts. A multisport athlete — wrestling, baseball, basketball and cross-country running — while growing up in Alaska, Kennedy competed solo at this year's regional challenge but didn't qualify for nationals. His goal is to keep trying.

"I want to do it ... it's kind of like a true test to see how physically fit you are," adding that it's important for everyone to have a fitness goal.

"Like anything else, if you train and work hard, you can do it."

The firefighters' success and passion for fitness is inspiring others locally, says Fazio, adding that he's planning to enter the Challenge next year in its five-person relay category with several co-workers. Other Rogue Valley firefighters have participated in past years' events and are showing renewed interest, adds Fazio.

"Our duty is to stay fit."

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