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Brainerd firefighter gives challenge his best shot

Equipped from head to toe in firefighting racing gear — including a fire helmet and air pack — Brainerd full-time firefighter Clint Langerud gave it his best shot Saturday in the Midwestern Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Oak Forest, Ill.

This was Langerud’s third time competing in the individual open division of the competition, where he was the only Minnesota firefighter to complete. Langerud, who has been with the Brainerd Fire Department for three years including two as a full-time firefighter, went into the competition in the top 10 percent, which is based on his scores from the previous two years.

Langerud took 31st place out of 60 competitors with times ranging from one minute, 33 seconds to times of six minutes or more. Langerud did the challenge in two minutes, 27 seconds. He was penalized 5 seconds during the challenge for dropping a hammer in the wrong spot. Last year, Langerud’s time was two minutes, 46 seconds and his first year doing the challenge his time was three minutes, 15 seconds.

“I was pleased with my time,” said Langerud. “The guys who are really good at this challenge actually have this set-up at their fire stations and practice it every day. This challenge is very competitive and only firefighters can compete. There are competitors who don’t finish the challenge. There are medics at the end of the course to help if need be.”

In the challenge, Langerud wore his racing gear, which weighs between 80-100 pounds. When sirens went off he had to race up four stories carrying a 45-pound hose bundle, drop it and then pull it back up. He then raced back down the stairs and hammered a 250-pound sled backward, which demonstrates forcible entry firefighting skills. Next, he had to run through a basketball court-sized obstacle course of fire hydrants and haul a 250-pound charged fire hose through two doors. The last task was dragging a life-size 175-pound “victim” down the length of the course to the finish line.

The record for the challenge, which tests firefighters skills and fitness, is one minute and 15 seconds, said Langerud.

“When you’re running through the challenge your feet feel like cement,” he said. “You never push yourself like this on the job.”

Langerud was prepared for the challenge, as he has been training since the first year he did the challenge. He said he lost 60 pounds since the first challenge three years ago. Langerud works out five days as week. He works out in his full firefighter gear, applies plyometrics exercises and does yoga every day.

Langerud said the challenge is the elite competition for a firefighter and he appreciated the support he received from his wife, Christi, and Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek, who came to the competition.

Stunek said the firefighter challenge is a camaraderie of around 40 fire departments from around the United States and Canada. Stunek said it is a high stress competition and a true test of firefighting skills.

“We are very proud of Clint,” said Stunek. “He represented the city of Brainerd well. We are truly honored to have him with the fire department.”

Langerud said he plans to compete again next year. He said there are more competitions before moving onto nationals and he hopes to compete in three next year.

“My goal is to be as fit as a 24-year-old,” said Langerud. “I started this job late. I’m almost 40.”

Langerud also works for North Memorial Ambulance.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at