The event, set for Oct. 12 to 13 in Tyler, is a firefighter fitness competition that simulates job-related obstacles, but the public also can participate in its own separate category.
And that opportunity is proving impossible for Tyler City Manager Mark McDaniel and Tyler Morning Telegraph Publisher Nelson Clyde to ignore.
Neither man is a professional firefighter, but both appear comfortable trying out the Community/Corporate Challenge anyway.
McDaniel, who challenged Clyde to the fitness battle, is urging other community teams to shelve their hesitation and give the course a shot.
“It's not terribly difficult,” he said Wednesday. “You do have to be in good shape.”
The public competition, planned for Oct. 13 in the south parking lot at Broadway Square Mall, 4601 S. Broadway Ave., includes the same activities as the professionals, such as hauling a fire hose and dragging a dummy.
The pair is to be joined by a team of willing participants from the city and the newspaper, hand-picked, it seems, to help float their respective teams to victory.
The entry fee is $200 per team with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Tyler Firefighters Cancer Awareness Relief Effort. Registration ends Monday.
The Fit City Challenge, of which McDaniel and Clyde are regulars, is a community effort to encourage healthy lifestyles and fitness.
The pair has been trading good-humored jabs for the past few years, each challenging the other to get fit or pay up.
But outside observers are wondering if this latest fitness competition between the city manager and the publisher is a little over the top.
Not at all, Clyde said.
“We're ready,” he said. “We understand the city's team has been practicing, we heard maybe twice a day, but our team is ready. … We're willing to give pounds of flesh and pints of blood to prove we're best.”
“We're not going to do a lot of trash talking,” he said. “We're going to win. … They don't stand a chance, they really don't.”
Losers of the city-versus-newspaper challenge are expected to perform some extra community-service deeds for three worthy organizations: working 10 hours at the East Texas Food Bank; serving 10 hours at Meals on Wheels; and giving five pints of blood to Carter BloodCare.
So far, no evidence of cheating has surfaced.
But a few gag gifts were exchanged this week.
The newspaper man received a few dozen boxes of facial tissues, presumably to wipe away any tears shed over a loss.
“I didn't keep them,” Clyde said.
The manager, likewise, opened a sore muscle care package: ice packs, aspirin and a few bandages.
“I'm not sharing,” the manager teased. “My team doesn't need it.”
Real firefighters, who don't reek of Bengay, say the competition is a bit more difficult than it appears.
“It takes quite a bit of time and effort to train,” event organizer Terry Hawkins, Tyler Fire Department, said. “People usually start training several months out.”
Kidding aside, the Combat Challenge has its roots in a university-based research study funded by the U.S. Fire Administration.
Tyler firefighters have been competing for several years and have taken dozens of awards for their efforts.
Clyde's team features Managing Editor Brian Pearson, Publications Manager Shannon Dorsey, staff writer Kenneth Dean, staff writer Adam Russell, plus an alternate.
People interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Brent Hail at email@example.com or call 903-721-2706.
To register a team, contact Jeremy Driver at 903-721-1503 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details about the challenge, visit www.brookshirescombat.com.