Years of chasing an elusive achievement has ended for two Mossburn Fire Brigade members.
At the weekend, Senior Firefighters Stephen Trusler (50) and Jeff Manson (57) won the two-person United Fire Brigades Association of New Zealand’s National Waterways Challenge.
The competition was held in Methven.
While the pair had been competing in the two-person challenge since 2010 it had always been a goal to win it , SFF Manson said.
‘‘It’s been a lifetime dream from the day we joined the fire brigade, a lifetime dream, a lifetime challenge, a lifetime chase.
‘‘The chase has never ended until Saturday.’’
On the back of their shirts was written the year each one started in the fire brigade.
‘‘Stephen was 1990 and I had 1982 on mine, just to let everyone know how old we were. We would be the oldest two-person team.’’
Their experience showed that perseverance paid off and ‘‘age is no barrier’’, SFF Manson said.
‘‘We’ve seen a lot of teams come and a lot of teams go.’’
Some of the other competitors in the challenge were many years their junior.
Many people had told them how much they admired them for still competing and telephone calls of congratulations came from across the world. It was ‘‘overwhelming’’, a ‘‘relief’’, ‘‘unbelievable and unreal’’ to have won.
‘‘So proud of Stephen for us as best mates to do it together.
‘‘Very humbling to be able to say we are now national champions.’’
In February the pair won the South Island challenge for the seventh time.
At the time SFF Manson was carrying a hamstring injury in one leg and an injured calf muscle on the other.
‘‘Limping on both legs we still managed to win that.’’
The hamstring had been troublesome for many years and when he competed he was heavily strapped.
Since the start of the year a physiotherapist had given him different exercises which had helped.
Friendship was the key to their success.
‘‘We don’t argue and bicker.’’
When they were competing they did not talk much except to say ‘‘right’’ at the appropriate time.
‘‘The communication between us is almost telepathic. ‘
‘We’ve been together a long time.’’
However, there were other factors as well including their desire to win, and the gear handling was their ‘‘secret weapon’’. ‘‘We handle the gear very, very well because obviously at our age speed is not one of our attributes.’’
In the past they had trained up to six nights a week.
Their families had also been part of their success, SFF Manson said.
‘‘They have sacrificed alot with us going away.’’
They have a total of three sons between them, who were also following in their fire brigade footsteps.
SFF Manson’s wife Jan had been a big help driving them home after competitions, timekeeping and helping analyse data.
‘‘She has been the most encouraging person I could have ever have had on my side.’’
Now was not the time to decide whether they would keep competing.
‘‘We’re going to enjoy the moment.’’