FRONT ROYAL — Public safety professionals squared off Saturday in a series of feats of strength competitions during the 4th annual Heroes Challenge.

The competition, hosted by Gold Mountain Martial Arts, included bench presses, plyo jumps, sit ups, pull ups, a tire flip and tug of war.

Competing were Team Blue (the Front Royal Police Department), Team Brown (the Warren County Sheriff’s Office), Team Red (Warren County Fire and Rescue) and Team Green (the Shenandoah Park Service).

Although Team Blue ultimately placed first, they still proved no match for the young martial arts students, to whom they lost in an impromptu tug of war.

Master Cindy Wenzel, Gold Mountain Martial Arts owner, said the competition is meant to introduce the youth to the first responders and “help them see first hand the benefits of physical fitness” as they see role models in action.

She noted that one of the 10 commandments of taekwondo is respecting the body and the first responders are good examples of healthy living.

“I want to give back to the community and put these men and women in the spotlight. They are absolutely our superheroes,” she said.

Shane Neal, a 13-year-old red belt, said he enjoyed the event because he was able to see “real heroes.” Nathaniel Ramey, a 10-year-old bodan belt, agreed and said watching the competition was “pretty awesome” and particularly enjoyed watching the teams bench press.

Aurora Scott, an 11-year-old bodan belt, said she enjoyed the spirit of the competition. She noted that although a lot of people think of Superman when a hero is mentioned, she thinks of the first responders who risk their lives to keep citizens safe.

Chief of Police Kahle Magalis said the challenge is a “great thing” and it is fun to meet the kids. He pointed to Nathaniel and said “he is the biggest cheerleader we’ve got” who has displayed some “amazing” taekwondo skills.

Front Royal police officer Robbie Seal said he enjoys the event because it brings all areas of law enforcement together “and it really gets competitive. He added that he loves the support that the community shows for first responders, calling it “overwhelming.”

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