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The Story of Two Firefighers

We're always intrigued to find out the professions of 4 Deserts racers. They come from all spectrums of the world, from bankers to scientists, miners to soldiers, and mothers to writers. On The Last Desert, we had two firefighters.

We wondered: why would a person who spends his days rushing into burning buildings, want to run into a burningly hot desert on his days off? (Or in this case a frozen one.)

Seiji Shishido from Japan tells us that difficult work like this requires physical strength, so running makes a perfect pastime—and it becomes your way to relax, train and enjoy yourself.

The 42-year old works for Kawasaki city’s Fire and Rescue. Dealing with life and death situations is a daily thing: “I’ve been doing this job for 14 years,” he explains. “I try to calm patients to avoid them panicking,” he adds. We ask him where the life of a firefighter and a desert racer collide and he looks us in the eye and says: “In both – you never give up.”

The second firefighter of The Last Desert is overall champion, Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito and he is certainly one who never gives up.

“I am a firefighter from Alicante province, the town of Alcoy,” the 36-year old tells us. “We work 24 hours and then have four days off. And we can do a couple of hours in the gym, until an emergency situation comes, then it’s time to work. I also belong to the special mountain rescue team that is a special group of firefighters.”

“In my work there are dangerous situations almost every day,” he points out. “Falling structures or getting in the middle of the fire is quite normal, and we train every day to get over those situations. Also with the mountain rescue team, we get into dangerous situations often.”

“Running for me is something natural and is part of my daily training,” he continues.  “Running in these races has been like an evolution of my normal situation. Training keeps me in shape for my work and working gives me the mental strength to keep up with the long distance races. I think that my work and this kind of races compliment each other very well.”

He points out that actually, working on a daily basis to help people—and to be in such a high risk environment, leads to similar effects of taking on these desert races. After spending a week out in the desert, strong forms between competitors and Vicente says he gets this everyday at work: “I love my work. It is an extreme team job and sharing these high-risk situations with your colleagues makes you really close to each other. I also love the feeling of helping others.”

By Clare Morin

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