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.


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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