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Times staffers put themselves to test
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Atkins hurries down a three-story stair climb as she participates in the physical assessment test.

In the kiln of the Georgia summer heat, Sgt. Greg Cochran tried to take my doughy physique and make it into something.

With the approval of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office to take its physical assessment, I intended to put my money where my mouth was — or more specifically, put my gut where my typing hands were.

The competitive nature in Shannon Casas, Times metro editor, and Carly Sharec, editor of The Paper of Flowery Branch, drew them to my idea.

“I was curious how I would do compared to how the deputies may do in the future,” Casas said.

Even Publisher Charlotte Atkins suited up for the day, initially joking that she would provide “comic relief.” She and I would spend the day side by side as she continually outperformed me on the mat.

The better way to put it, we decided, would be to say she had the physical ability of a 23-year-old man.

After failing the treadmill assessment — I felt lightheaded after the 10th minute — and coming up short on pushups and situps, the obstacle course was my redemption.

He didn’t care how we did it, Cochran said, but we had to find a way to get over his 4-foot wall.

“It looked a lot taller than it really was when you got up on it,” Sharec said as the four Times staffers straddled the top beam and let gravity finish the job.

As well as my colleagues did, to see deputies hurdling over the wall and speeding through the course put our sense of accomplishment in perspective.

“We were out there and saw these guys who were doing the test really well. I want that guy responding to my emergency,” Casas said.

The charts provided by Cochran on pushups by age inspired further competition in the newsroom beyond the four who  made it out to the Allen Creek Training Center, with the knowledge that the sheriff’s office intends to raise the bar to the 70th percentile.

“Two weeks. I’m going to make it to 52,” videographer Chris Campbell said, working towards the 95th percentile for his age group.

Casas confirmed a “push-off” for later this month.

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