MOUNT VERNON — Rastin Challenge participants were greeted with a nice cool day to compete in the various contests at Ariel-Foundation Park Saturday.
The Rastin Challenge saw teams of first responders from various departments competing in different events throughout the day. This included a ‘combat’ challenge for firefighters and a tactical obstacle course open to both firefighters and policemen, along with the Rastin Tower Climb and the K-9 Challenge.
Six teams of four firefighters competed in the main event, the Rastin Tower Stair Climb. They included Mount Vernon Fire Department, Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District, Worthington Fire Department, Monroe Township Fire Department, and two teams from West Licking Joint Fire Department from Pataskala.
“This is my second year doing this,” Tim Doran from the West Licking team said. Doran said he didn’t necessarily do any training for the event except for more cardio but a few others came to the tower to practice.
“It’s important for fire fighters to keep friendly competitions and stay in shape,” Doran said. “It’s a good way to test yourself against different departments and see how good you can do.”
This was Billy Rings’ and the Worthington Fire Departments’ first year competing in the Rastin Challenge.
“A member of the team used to work for Mount Vernon and he knew of the Rastin Challenge,” Rings said as to why they decided to make a team to come out and compete.
He said that the other team members did some more cardio and workout circuits to prepare for Saturday’s challenge but he really didn’t do much else.
Justin Wilt, of Mount Vernon Fire Department, said he came out to do the challenge to represent the fire department.
“We’ve been trying to train the last couple weeks and months for the tower,” he said. He said they climb the tower first in street wear, then fire gear, and then with the air-pack on to gradually get used to it.
Mount Vernon Fire Department took first place with an overall time of 4 minutes and 23 seconds. West Licking’s second team took second with an overall time of 4 minutes and 32 seconds while Worthington took third place with a 4 minutes and 45 seconds time.
The K-9 Challenge, which first showcased last year, included both narcotics detection and an agility course for the K-9 and their handler. In total, 13 different dogs competed in the challenge from various departments including Delaware Police Department, Westerville Police, Marion Police Department, and Mount Vernon Police Department.
Matthew Jones with the Mount Vernon K-9 Unit said that they brought out their dog, DJ, because it’s a big community event.
“People behind the scenes who really don’t know what they’re talking about,” Jones said as to why it’s beneficial to see these dogs in settings like the challenge. He said it allows the community to see what is actually meant when they say that a dog as alerted a vehicle.
“They (K-9 dogs) are a great asset to the community and need to be in every community not just for the fight on narcotics but for public relations,” Jones told the News. “Come talk to DJ, he’s very friendly and happy. He’ll let you love him and pet him.”
Bryan Schwartz represented the Westerville Police Department in the K-9 Challenge for the second year.
“It’s good to just go out and see where everyone’s dogs are at as far as the level of detection and agility,” Schwartz said as to why he participated in the challenge, “And it’s good to network with the other agencies.”
He said he thinks people have a lot of misconceptions with it come to working dogs and police dogs.
“(People think) they’re just this mean and vicious dog as soon as you open the door you’re gonna get attacked,” he said. “Dogs are social just like people and it’s good to have them (the public) come out and watch and see the dogs interact with others.”
* * *
|West Licking #1||6:22.78|
|West Licking #2||4:32.25|
|OHSP Phillips Strong||3:19.19|
|OHSP Road Dogs||3:02.16|
|Mount Vernon #3||1:24|
|Mount Vernon #1|
|Bryan Schwartz||Fiji||Westerville – 1st Place|
|Adam Graham||Ollie||Delaware – 2nd Place|
|Richard Wheeler||Joker||Marion – 3rd Place|
|Michael Sieman||Ben||Genoa Township|
|Matt Jones||DJ||Mount Vernon|
|Sarah Wheeler||Laya||Mount Vernon|
|Jeremy Carpenter||Splinter||Knox County Sheriff’s Office|
|Chase Law||Lola||Knox County Sheriff’s Office|
|Jacob Dickerson||Danny||Ohio State Highway Patrol|
|Colt Browne||Atos||Ohio State Highway Patrol|