Firefighters run Hilton Head Island 5K in full gear for charity

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comOctober 20, 2013 

Three participants in the Hilton Head Island Bridge Run showed up Sunday in some unusual running gear: their firefighting equipment.

Firefighters Alex Murray, Jed Huth and Kirk Prinsen of the Burton Fire District ran Sunday's 5K race in full firefighting gear to raise awareness and funding for the Code 3 for a Cure Foundation. In addition to running the race in their gear, the firefighters handed out cards and informational fliers to people attending the run.

Sunday's race was the third that Murray has participated in since August in full firefighting gear. He ran his first 5K in gear on Aug. 24, taking part in a charity race in Hampton. On Sept. 26, he and four other firefighters ran the Wesley Spires 5K in North Augusta.

Sunday's run featured much nicer weather than the first two, he said.

"It went real well," Murray said. "The temperature was great. This was the best one we've done so far."

The Code 3 for a Cure foundation was created in 2008 by a firefighter in California who battled cancer three times, Murray said. Since its creation, the organization has given financial support to firefighters battling cancer nationwide.

Firefighters face an increased risk of developing cancer, a risk Murray is no stranger to. Last year, he had a cancer scare after doctors found a spot on his lungs, which was later found to have been caused by exposure to mold and not cancerous.

Murray ran his first 5K in August to help out two local firefighters -- one, Colleton firefighter Jordan Eaddy, had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- running in the Hampton Hometown Heroes 5K with firefighters from across the state. It was there he learned about Code 3 for a Cure and September's 5K run, a race benefiting a North Augusta firefighter injured in a robbery attempt in May.

Murray's training hasn't changed much since he starting running the races, he said. The issue with running in firefighting gear isn't endurance, because firefighters train and exercise to handle the weight. It's the heat from wearing the gear, he said.

"The firefighting suits are made to keep the heat out, but they also keep a lot of the heat in," he said. "You really don't feel the weight of the gear, but the heat kicks in about a mile and a half in. People ask what's wrong with us."

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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