Local firefighters Shane McBrayer, Chris Wallace and Warren Elder with the Tifton-Tift County Fire Department participated in the 11th annual Southeast Georgia Health System Bridge Run Saturday, Feb. 16 across the 7,780-foot Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick. Each year participants start on the southbound side of the bridge, go over and return back, crossing the bridge twice.
This run has been certified by the U.S. Track and Field Association as the toughest 5K in Georgia, and McBrayer, Wallace and Elder would agree. They participated in the Firefighter’s Challenge at no cost. This was the local fire department’s first year participating in the run. It was also another first for McBrayer and Wallace who have never run a 5K. However, Elder has run a local 5K. They stated that they did some training for the run in Brunswick.
All three men agreed that they had a “blast” and look forward to running it again next year. They said a total of 13 firefighters, including those from Brunswick, Kentucky and Camden County, participated in the run. Firefighters had to dress in full gear — jacket, pants and helmet (this added an extra 30 pounds without the air pack). They were allowed to wear regular running shoes instead of fire boots. McBrayer, Wallace and Elder, who called themselves “The Orange Peanuts,” finished third in the race with a time of 37:57 and received a medal.
They said their goal was to finish the race, and they’re proud of what they were able to accomplish. They stated that it was a great experience.
“Going up the bridge was the hardest but going down was no problem,” Wallace said. He, McBrayer and Elder said they plan
to do practice runs before next year’s run.
When asked if being dressed in full gear was a problem, McBrayer stated, “It was like wearing winter clothes.”
Wallace said the weather was cold, but it was a beautiful day. The Firefighter’s Challenge began at 7:30 a.m.
Fire Chief Mike Coleman said that he was proud of McBrayer, Wallace and Elder.
“It’s a good thing to represent our department in a positive way,” he said. “We encourage that.”
McBrayer has been a firefighter at the local fire department for two years; Wallace for eight years; and Elder for five years.
There were over 2,000 runners who participated in the annual run last year; approximately 2,500 runners participated this year. Proceeds benefit the Health System’s cancer care programs. Elder noted that a man from Columbus, who was the overall male winner, finished the 5K in 17:17. He said the oldest person to participate in the run was 79 years old and the youngest was six years old.
“People came from everywhere to run,” Wallace stated.
Other locals who participated in the 5K included Dr. Ray Barber, Patti Barber, David Vann, Ernest Lang and Melanie Hall.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.