Zaryd Wilson

Tanja Grunwald is gearing up to test herself against the world.

The Whanganui woman is off to the World Firefighter Combat challenge in Alabama later this month - an event firefighters describe as the 'toughest two minutes in sport'.

"If you haven't done it yourself you wouldn't have any idea what it means. It's very hard," Tanja said.

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The combat challenge has firefighters racing to complete a set of tasks including climbing six flights of stairs, a hose hoist, running, and hauling an 85-kilogram dummy.

"And don't forget you're wearing full firefighting gear with breathing apparatus, it feels a bit like breathing through a straw. You're not getting air from everywhere.

"I had no idea how hard something like that could be. And afterwards once you take your mask off - you need other people to hold you, you're that absolutely stuffed that you can't event stand up properly."

The senior firefighter impressed at the Nationals in March - taking out the over 40s title and finishing fourth in the open women.

Her time of 3 minutes and 18 seconds put her into the 'Lion's Den', an award given to the world's fastest combat challengers.

"I'll try to break the three-minute mark which would be absolutely awesome for me so hopefully all that training pays off and it all comes together on the day and I manage it."

The sole representative from the New Zealand Fire Service - Tanja hopes the countless hours of stair-climbs and weights training will bring rewards on an international stage.

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