About 10,000 athletes are competing in 61 sports in Fairfax County this week at the biennial World Police and Fire Games which include everything from baseball to wrist wrestling, dragon boating (at the National Harbor in Maryland), paintball, golf, and orienteering.
Except for rifle shooting and pistol combat which are not open to the public, everything is free to watch at 53 venues, now through July 5 in this Olympics of Law Enforcement, the “Games of Heroes.”
Schedules are posted at fairfax2015.com, but check before you go, and ignore the ending times since contests can end early, or not at all.
Planning for this huge undertaking has been underway for six years.
Linda Q. Smyth, and her husband, Nigel, were at Lerner Town Square at Tysons Sunday, happy to see all the people (and dollars) rolling in. She is the Fairfax County Supervisor for the Providence District which includes Tysons Corner. The economic benefit to the county is estimated to be between $60 million and $80 million.
On Saturday at the Reston Skatequest ice rink, local fans, including Luke Mihalovich and Martin Pernot, both 15 and members of the Prince William Panthers hockey team, erupted in huge cheers when the Washington Area Law Enforcement ice hockey team scored a goal against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
This was after the Canadians had gone up 5 in the first period and scored seven seconds in the game.(They went on to win, 11-2.) An official said the Washington region has at least eight police and fire ice hockey teams in the World Games.
A group of Seattle area firefighters were watching the game, too, getting ready to play Saturday night against Rochester, and they were all grinning, enjoying themselves and the trip to Fairfax County despite the flood from the sky.
“The organization thus far is phenomenal,” better than the 2011 games in New York, said Ryan Y. Berg from the Tukwila (Washington) Fire Department.
Karen Faulkner and her husband, Michael, stood against the glass, “some local yokels” from Herndon, she said, who came to watch hockey and get out of the rain.
Michael Faulkner, a member of the Reston Runners said his group is supplying between 40 and 50 volunteers for the games.
At the Toughest Competitor Alive contest at Westfield High School in Chantilly, the bleachers crowd called out contestants’ names as each slowly pulled up to the steel bar for one last time.
Esteban Ayas from Spain, 55, completed 39 pull-ups, all with his eyes closed. Afterwards, he bent over at a 90-degree angle and faced the floor while his friends massaged his spread arms for several minutes. He looked like an eagle getting ready to soar.
Later, while we tried to speak in the other’s language, he told me his best pull-up number was 55.
He said the Fairfax “administration is very good.” He last participated in the games in 2011.
Stephen Morrison, 51, from Northern Ireland was a first-timer in the TWC who completed 24 pull-ups. He is a retired policeman.
He said the hardest part of Toughest Competitor Alive is the bench press (“I pulled some hamstrings”) and the easiest, the 5K race.
Did he run in the hard rain Saturday morning?
Oh, yes. “It keeps you cool,” he said.
The games in Fairfax County are “first class. Well run.” Morrison is spending a week here. The extreme downpour Saturday played havoc with some schedules.
The canine competition at Reston’s Lake Fairfax Park did not make according to the times posted on Saturday, and on Sunday, it was canceled again.(Grrr….)
I sped to the Reston Town Center, scheduled site of the Honor Guard competition, where I found only socializing happening, so I stopped to chat with volunteer Kathlyn Peterson, 54, from Boise, Idaho. She is visiting the East Coast for the first time with no plans to visit any of the sights in D.C., although she’s here for 12 days.
“I’m just following my schedule, and it’s difficult to schedule something when my assignment’s in the middle of the day.”
Why does she volunteer?
Her father was a firefighter in Boise: “I do something every year in honor of his memory.” Her three brothers are also first responders. Peterson is a world volunteer, traveling to the World Games in Belfast in 2013 with plans to volunteer at the 2017 Montreal games.
It’s an expensive hobby which she funds by working for a Boise law firm.
It was too early for her to judge the games in Fairfax, but “there seems to be a lot more people here” than in Belfast, she said.
Meanwhile, rather than resuming the Honor Guard competition at 12:30 p.m., which an official promised, medals for the dog competition were awarded. (Without dogs.)
That was it for Reston, and I took off for Tysons where it was the best at last, Lerner Town Square with cheap eats ($4, beer; $2 tacos with meat; “leaded” ($8) and “unleaded” ($2) snow cones), and two different competitions, crossfit and six beach volleyball games, plus a band which played later in the day after everyone left.
Two Montreal female athletes with new medals and French accents basked in the attention from the press and others.
Claudia Martellino, participating in six events, had won her Toughest Competitor Alive competition, and Susie Parent, in three competitions, won in bodybuilding. They were both hoping to win more medals, Parent said.
I felt like I deserved a medal, too, for maneuvering the jumbled mess of the parking garage at Tysons I when I tried to find the stair race at the new Tysons Tower. Once I got there, a guard told me the competition had ended 90 minutes early.
“Well,” said a games coordinator the next day, “I tried to slow them down for you, but no one would listen.”