When the Toughest Competitor Alive (TCA) takes center stage at next summer’s World Police & Fire Games, one participant to watch will be a 14-year veteran firefighting mother of three from Toronto, Ontario.
A First Class Firefighter and Shift Training Instructor for Toronto Fire Services, Tamara Sylvan participated in the TCA during the New York Games in 2011. While she failed to reach the podium, she can take solace in her effort. “It was a great experience,” she said. “The competition was fierce -- watch out for those Spanish ladies! I managed some personal bests but I still have a long way to go before I medal. I will be pushing extra hard this winter to make sure I come back stronger than I did in 2011.”
One of the most demanding of all the competitions, TCA actually consists of eight events over a single day. It begins with a 7 a.m. 5K cross country “run from hell,” as Tamara describes it followed by shotput and a 100-meter dash at the track. Competitors then move to the pool for a 100 meter swim sprint before heading to the gym for a 20-foot, hands-only rope climb followed by bench press and pull-ups. The competition concludes outdoor with a firefighter/EMT obstacle course which includes a dummy drag, monkey bars and wall climb.
While Toronto Fire sends hundreds of competitors to the Games and several compete in multiple sports, TCA will be Tamara’s only event. “Trust me when I tell you, one is enough with TCA,” she says.
The training, Tamara says, is intense. “For me, it’s incredibly challenging balancing training, three kids, full-time firefighting and owning my own CPR and First Aid company,” she says. “I am also on the board of directors for The Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive, I teach at Toronto-area colleges and I also need to find some time for hubby who owns his own fitness studio and designs all of my training programs and nutrition.”
With the games less than 10 months away, Tamara expects to elevate that training in the coming months. “While most TCA competitors train harder in summer, I have to scale back because my three kids are out of school, so I will be ramping up my training efforts and time significantly this winter. I feel that I am a bit behind in training right now, but we will have to wait and see what happens. I am crossing my fingers that my back and shoulder will hold up!”
For a detailed look at next Summer’s Toughest Competitor Alive event, please visit http://fairfax2015.com/sports/tca