MOUNT VERNON — Part of the requirement of being a firefighter is to be in good shape and to be strong enough to carry all of the equipment required to do the job. One Mount Vernon firefighter has taken strength training to a level where he was gotten awards for it.
Ben Harrod won several gold medals — for the second year in a row — at the Ohio Police and Fire Games that took place at several locations between June 9 and June 15 in and around the Canton area. His particular competition involved four weightlifting categories on June 9 and 10 at Perry High School in Massillon.
Harrod, who is also a paramedic, won medals in the curl and bench press, as well as the combination categories of push/pull and powerlifting. Push/pull is the bench press and deadlift combined and the powerlift combines those same two categories, but adds the squat to it.
In the competition that involved 14 people, Harrod had a total squat weight of 475, a bench of 330 and deadlift of 510 for a total of 1315 — which was only five pounds more than the second-place finisher.
He said that both his profession and his hobby feed into each other, with strength training applying to both activities.
The events that he participated in were broken down by size and by age, with Harrod, 32, competing in the 181-pound class and 24-34 age group. He said that he trains at the Mount Vernon YMCA whenever he can do it around his schedule, which is a pattern that alternates between one 24-hour day on duty, then 48 hours off — that go back to back, regardless of the day of the week or any holidays.
“I do most of my training off duty. There’s not a whole lot of time there to lift,” Harrod said.
He plans on continuing to participate in the same competition each year, but will change age groups the older he gets. He is almost at the break of the next age category, which starts at 35 and goes to 39.
“I’m not too worried about (lifting at an older age). It puts strain on your muscles, joints and ligaments and stuff but its also better than sitting around doing nothing. Because that’s not good on yourself either,” Harrod said.