Every second counts in the world of emergency first response. They just did in a much different way for Andy Drobeck on Saturday.
Drobeck, a Missoula city firefighter and competitive triathlete, smashed the Guinness Book of World Records time for the fastest 1-mile run in full firefighting uniform as part of the Missoula Mile's first responders race. His time of 6 minutes, 8.46 seconds eclipsed the previous mark of 6:43.24 with room to spare.
Which was exactly the goal, the 35-year-old Drobeck said moments after completing his run.
"You never know who else is out there trying to break the record," said the sweat-drenched Drobeck after peeling off his fire-protective layers at the finish line. "We definitely didn't want to just break 6:43, we wanted to go lower so that we actually get the record."
Drobeck, the winner of six straight Scott Firefighter Stairclimb competitions in Seattle, was among several public servants who took to the downtown Missoula course Saturday evening as part of the fundraising and awareness run for prostate cancer. The half-mile loop covered several blocks of East Pine Street twice before the day's starting line became the finishing tape near the intersection of Pine and Pattee Street.
Saturday wasn't Drobeck's first time racing in his work attire. Last year he ran a sub-6-minute mile at the Missoula Mile, but that was without his heavy-duty firefighter boots.
With boots laced up instead of running shoes, Drobeck's full uniform weighed in at 21 pounds. The coat, helmet and pants were heavy enough, but the weight of the boots was a whole new experience, Drobeck said.
He popped them on for a quick spin on the treadmill the night before to see what he was in for. Two minutes was enough of a taste Friday.
"It just feels like you're lumbering through it, I guess," he said. "... You're just trying to get as much distance as you can on your stride 'cause you're wearing ankle weights.
"I'll probably have some soreness in some weird spots later on."
Guinness requires a pile of evidence for verification for a record submission, so Drobeck had the course surveyed before race day to make sure it met the criteria. He also had a friend film the entire race from a bike to provide video proof, and photos of each individual piece of clothing were collected as well.
The record book takes as many as 50,000 submissions each year, Drobeck said, but only about 1,000 are approved as new records.
His record will be pending approval while Guinness reviews Drobeck's provided evidence. Only after the case is reviewed and sanctioned can it become official.
If Drobeck properly "had all our ducks in a row," he'll take over the record book's entry for "fastest mile in a fireman's uniform" from Marcos Muñoz, who ran the 6:43 time in San Antonio in May 2016.
Guinness shows 647 current entries listed under "fastest mile," so there's plenty of records to shoot for next time around too, Drobeck said. He also plans to run this summer's Missoula Half Marathon in his full uniform. The record time in such a race is 1 hour, 38 minutes, 20 seconds, by the way.
Which brings us to Drobeck's preferred celebration Saturday. It's not every day that one sets a world record after all.
"No, I've actually got a big training day tomorrow," he said with a smirk. "I'm probably the worst at celebrations."
AJ Mazzolini can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajmazzolini.