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Eight teams compete in Durango Train Pull on Saturday

Special Olympics Colorado and Law Enforcement Torch Run event to return annually
Team Durango Police Department competes on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in the Durango Train Pull competition in the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad rail yard. Eight teams made up of 10 members competed in the fundraiser for Colorado Special Olympics athletes. Teams had to pull the 115-ton diesel train 15 feet, with the fastest time winning. Team DPD placed third. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Eight teams representing various Durango and La Plata County organizations put their physical strength to the test Saturday for the first Special Olympics Colorado Durango Train Pull.

The light-spirited contest and Special Olympics Colorado fundraiser took place at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad rail yard. In addition to the strength test, a costume contest was held after the main event.

Each team of 10 people was tasked with pulling a diesel train engine – weighing just over 231,000 pounds, or 115 tons – back 15 feet as fast as they could.

The city of Durango’s team, “Loco Motives,” managed to pull out a win versus the competition that included two CrossFit Durango teams, the Durango Police Department, La Plata County Mountain Patrol and others.

Forest Kinney with Durango police worked on setting up the Special Olympics Colorado Durango Train Pull most of the year after attending the organization’s kickoff conference in January.

“They do a plane pull down in Colorado Springs and Denver where they pull an airplane,” he said. “We thought, ‘Well, Durango’s famous for the train. Let’s try to pull a train.’ It’s unique to Durango.”

Team The Vault competes on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in the Durango Train Pull competition in the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad rail yard. The team finished with a time of 25.6 seconds. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Kinney said he attended the Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games in Grand Junction in 2019 with another officer who was DPD’s agency coordinator with the organization. He enjoyed interacting with the athletes and seeing the joy competitive sports brought them, and he decided to get more involved.

He said Saturday’s train pull event exceeded his expectations with a large turnout and about $9,000 raised, not counting cash and checks to be tallied. Proceeds will be donated to Special Olympics Colorado.

Team Narrow Gauge Gals competes on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in the Durango Train Pull competition in the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad rail yard. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Kinney had performed a couple of test pulls in the days leading up to Saturday’s competition, and the challenge is indeed daunting, he said.

“The hardest part really is getting it going,” he said. “It’s not like a car where you put it in neutral and then it just rolls. With this, whenever it stops, it kind of takes some power to get it moving.”

Joan Hughes of CrossFit Durango Team 2, which also won the costume contest, was dressed in a bright-orange jumpsuit. On the back of the costume was the word in capitalized black text, “INMATE.” Underneath that were the words “STATE PRISON.”

Team CrossFit Durango Team No. 2 competes on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad rail yard. The team had a time of 22.6 seconds and also won the costume contest. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

She and her teammates work out regularly at the gym, but they saved their energy Saturday morning for the task ahead, she said. CrossFit Durango contributed $250 per team to the event to participate.

“I’ve never done this before, but I’m going to support a good cause,” she said.

Train pull results from first to last place

  • 19.9: Loco Motives.
  • 20.4: CrossFit Durango Team No. 1.
  • 21.1: Durango Police Department.
  • 22.6: CrossFit Durango Team No. 2.
  • 22.7: La Plata County Mountain Patrol.
  • 24.9: Ska Brewing.
  • 25.6: The Vault.
  • 40.3: Narrow Gauge Gals.

Matt McCann said he was excited to compete. He’s never pulled a train before, even though he and CrossFit Durango members enjoy staying in shape to tackle whatever obstacles they may face.

He said his strategy was to use proper lifting techniques and to work together with his team.

“I don’t know if it’s the most appropriate theme in the world,” he said of the orange jumpsuit attire. “But we decided, like, we’re going to be in a line pulling a train. Kind of a chain-gang theme. It’s just about getting out here and doing something fun. I don’t think we have a chance of winning, but I have no idea what the event’s going to be like.”

After the competition, all eight teams and 80 team members banded together to see how fast they drag the train another 15 feet. They succeeded in 10 seconds.

Kinney said the train pull will become an annual event every fall.


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