MF: What are the Combat stages?

MM: You start running up the 5-story tower, which puts a strain on the legs and jacks your heart rate way up. Then you switch to intense upper body by hoisting 42 pounds of hose and 7 pounds of rope. Most of your oxygenated blood is still pooled in your lower body, so you have to power through and continue to breathe as normally as possible. Then, you quickly descend the tower, engaging the lower body to keep from falling and locking out your knees. When you hit the ground, you must jump onto a force sled that you strike with a 9-lb. mallet, utilizing that upper body again while bent over and putting a strain on your legs. (You’re also pushing your tired, heavy diaphragm up into your chest while trying to get full breaths.) Then you dodge around markers staggered every 150 feet until you pick up the 240-lb., 100-foot hose line, which is charged with water pressure. You drag it 75 feet, and if you fail to pick up speed, that causes more friction on the ground and gives you even more resistance than the weight itself. And to finish, you rescue a mannequin-victim weighing 175 lbs. You pick it up and run backwards 100 feet to the finish without falling.

MF: Sounds tough—and demanding...

MM: These tasks are set up to drain the body of energy and mimic the effects of a structure fire. The body switches to glycolytic metabolism (anaerobic state) as you come off the tower, and your legs are taxed to the max. You tend to feel like they’ going to break down since they are filled with lactic acid! Your mind then tries to compensate and slow you down, so that is when you have to muster through and utilize the anaerobic conditioning that you have to finish strong and keep the same speed.