Firefighters’ achieve American dream

Mark Naylor, station manager at Whitby, Justin Rowe, watch manager at Malton, Andy Blades, station manager at Scarborough, and York firefighter Terence Gregg
Mark Naylor, station manager at Whitby, Justin Rowe, watch manager at Malton, Andy Blades, station manager at Scarborough, and York firefighter Terence Gregg

A team of firefighters have triumphed in their world record attempt to run to all 225 fire houses in New York – earning praise from their Stateside colleagues and New Yorkers,

Andy Blades, station manager at Scarborough, and Justin Rowe, who was born and raised in the town, together with fellow North Yorkshire firefighters Mark Naylor and Terence Gregg battled through the heat to run 366 miles in only seven days.

They began at the headquarters of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation on Staten Island on September 21 before navigating through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, finishing at Engine 10, Ladder 10 opposite Ground Zero.

A wreath of poppies was then laid on behalf of the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service at the 9/11 Memorial Wall in memory of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives when the Twin Towers fell just over 12 years ago.

The mission was completed on Sunday when, alongside their own families, they joined thousands of runners, for the annual Tunnel to Towers Run which followed the route firefighter Stephen Siller took on September 11, 2001, as he ran to the disaster site in full gear.

This year’s run raised $2 million and will be used to support children who have lost a parent and firefighters and military servicemen that have been seriously injured in the line of duty.

Finishing the New York Fire House Run brings an end to nearly two years’ worth of planning and training for the firefighters who Christened themselves Team Tarahumara.

Mr Rowe, who now lives in Norton, described it as “an experience I will never forget.”

He said: “It was probably the toughest run I have ever done due to the heat and the distances. The longest day for me was 39 miles in Queens and our total mileage was 366 which was an awesome effort. But our training paid off and once word spread via the New York Fire Department and the television stations, we began to get a huge response from New Yorkers and the firefighters.

“We were treated extremely well - even when running through the toughest areas of Harlem & the Bronx.”

Two memories stand out for Mr Rowe.

“The highlight for me was having an escort by a fire engine up Madison Avenue as it played God Save the Queen, and then laying the wreath at the 9/11 memorial where we had a guided tour from a lady whose husband, a serving New York firefighter, died in the south tower serving,” he said.

“Overall, it was an experience I will remember for a very long time.”

Mark Naylor, the station manager at Whitby, told the CBS 2 news channel: “We had some tough days, and we just had to focus on what we were here for, and that pushed us through.

“When you hit the wall when you’re running, when you get to 26 miles and your body wants to give up, you just keep thinking it’s only on a very small scale what we’re going through compared to some of the sacrifices our armed forces and New York fire department brothers have put themselves through.”

The firefighters are currently enjoying a well-deserved break in New York and expect to fly home in the next few days.

The team are believed to have raised £11,000 and will split the money between the Fire Fighters Charity and Macmillan Cancer Trust in the UK and The Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.