Balance your participation with pentathlon knowledge, and youll find a more enriching connection, greater inspiration and deeper roots in your lifestyle as a multisport athlete.
The Ancient Pentathlon
The Olympic Games combined the deep religious spirit along with the heroic past of the Greeks thus unifying to the highest degree body, mind and soul according to universal and philosophical values, and so projecting the individual as well as the cities, through the highest ideal of freedom. The first documented pentathlon occurred in 708 B.C. in Ancient Greece at the Ancient Olympic Games, and was also held at the other Panhellenic Games. Five events were contested over one day for the Ancient Olympic pentathlon, starting with the long jump, javelin throw, and discus throw, followed by the stadion (a short foot race) and wrestling. Pentathletes were considered to be among the most skilled athletes, and their training was often part of military serviceeach of the five events in the pentathlon was thought to be useful in war or battle. The wide variety of skills needed to compete meant that pentathletes were held in high esteem as physical specimens. Aristotle remarked "a body capable of enduring all efforts, either of the racecourse or of bodily strength... This is why the athletes in the pentathlon are most beautiful". The winners of the games were considered heroes. They got olive branches for winning, but also became famous. Before the start of the games, athletes also had to take a vow to Zeus that they had been training for ten months.
Ancient Greek city-states were always at war with one another. An interesting fact of ancient Greek Olympics is all battles stopped during the Olympic festival. The soldiers who were also good athletes were allowed to travel to Olympia to participate in the events. This was a tradition practiced to honor the Greek god Zeus. There would be no war or battle for seven days prior to the battle and seven days after the battle. The ancient Greeks created an athletic culture in which winning was valued not for its own sake but for the moral virtues that contribute to victory. The Greeks admired the bodies of pentathletes, because they possessed the ideal combination of length, strength, speed and beauty.
According to tradition, the Olympic Games began in 776 B.C. when Ifitos made a treaty with Lycourgos the king and famous legislator of Sparta and Cleisthenes the king of Pissa. The text of the treaty was written on a disc and kept in the Heraion. In this treaty that was the decisive event for the development of the sanctuary as a Panhellenic centre, the sacred truce was agreed. That is to say the ceasing of fighting in all of the Greek world for as long as the Olympic Games were on. As a reward for the victors, the cotinus, which was a wreath made from a branch of wild olive tree that was growing next to the opisthodomus of the temple of Zeus in the sacred Altis, was established after an order of the Delphic oracle.
Pentathlons for the 20th century
The pentathlon made its return as an Olympic event at the 1906 Games in Athens, consisting of a standing long jump, discus throw (ancient style), javelin throw, 192-meter run, and a Greco-Roman wrestling match.
The choice of the five diverse and unrelated sports that make up the Modern Pentathlon arose out of the romantic, tough adventures of a young French officer in Napoleon's army that was sent on an unfamiliar horse to deliver a message into hostile territory. He was first greeted by an enemy soldier with his sword drawn. The two dueled. The French officer won the duel and continued on his horse until it was shot out from under him. He fired a shot with his pistol and killed the enemy but his horse didn't make it. Having defended himself with his pistol and sword, he swims across a raging river and runs the rest of the way to deliver the message. When he arrived, his commanding officer greeted him with, "What took you?"
The 1912 Summer Olympics saw the introduction of two new types of pentathlon: classic pentathlon and modern pentathlon. The first was the classic pentathlon, an athletic competition which was a variation on the Ancient Olympic pentathlon, comprising the long jump, javelin throw, 200 meters, discus throw, and a 1500 meters race. The competition featured at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics but was discontinued thereafter. The second type of pentathlon introduced at the 1912 Olympics was the modern pentathlon, a sport invented by Pierre de Coubertin and modeled on the Ancient Olympic ideal of testing skills required by a soldier. Working from the template of a 19th century soldier fighting behind enemy lines, the contest comprises pe fencing, pistol shooting, freestyle swimming, show jumping on horseback, and a cross country run. In 1912, twenty-six year old George S. Patton represented the United States at the Stockholm Olympics in the first modern Pentathlon and took 5th place.
Each man did his best and took what fortune sent like a true soldier, and at the end we all felt more like good friends and comrades than rivalsyet this spirit of friendship in no manner detracted from the zeal with which all strove for success, observed Patton.
Not surprisingly, it was the military who most enthusiastically adopted this new sport with its inherent demands of courage, co-ordination, physical fitness, self-discipline and flexibility in ever changing circumstances. The modern pentathlon was originally open to only military officers and mirrored the skills a soldier should possess. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympics, based the competition on an imagined soldiers journey to deliver a message: riding a horse through rough terrain; dueling the enemy with a pistol and sword; swimming across a river and running across county. According to de Coubertin, its aim was to test a mans moral qualities as much as his physical resources and skills, producing thereby the ideal complete athlete.
By the middle of the 20th century, many of the skills in the modern pentathlon were becoming less relevant to the modern soldier (such as fencing and horse riding). A French army officer, Captain Henri Debrus, adapted a military training method into a five event competition. The five events are: shooting, obstacle running, obstacle swimming, throwing, and cross country running. A first trial competition organized by Captain Debrus was held at the Military Physical Training Centre, at Freiburg, in the French occupation zone in Germany, in August 1947. Only Belgian, Dutch, and French teams took part in the competition. The sport is governed by the International Military Sports Council (CISM) and an annual world championship has been held since 1950. CISM's ultimate goal is to contribute to world peace by uniting armed forces through sports. The motto under which they operate is "Friendship through Sport".
- Shooting: At a distance of 200 meters, competitors are tested separately for precision (10 shots in 10 minutes) and rapid-fire (10 shots in one minute) shooting.
- Obstacle running: Competitors navigate a 500 meter obstacle course with 20 obstacles.
- Obstacle swimming: Competitors must swim a distance of 50 meters, including four obstacles.
- Throwing: Competitors are tested separately for precision and distance throwing. In the precision test, competitors throw 16 projectiles (inactive grenades) at targets on the ground at varying distances.
- Cross country running: Competitors undertake an 8 km cross country run.
The modern pentathlon has been on the Olympic program continuously since 1912. A team event was added to the Olympic Games in 1952 and discontinued in 1992. An event for women was added in 2000.
Originally the competition took place over four or five days; however in 1996 a one-day format was adopted in an effort to be more audience-friendly. In spite of the event's strong pedigree in the modern Olympics, and its status as the only event created specifically for the modern Olympic Games, its lack of widespread popularity outside Eastern Europe has led to calls for its removal from the Olympic Games in recent years. However, a vote by the IOC on July 8, 2005, keeps it in the Olympic program at least until 2012.
As the popularity of the Modern Pentathlon began to decrease, triathlon was invented and has continued to gain popularity since its inception. Lighter and more aerodynamic equipment has allowed triathlon to evolve, taking it to further distances and off roads. See how triathlon has progressed over these important dates:
- Triathlon started in September 1974 in San Diego when members of the San Diego Track Club organized an event that involved running, cycling, and swimming. The entry fee was $1 and 46 athletes competed.
- The first Ironman was on Oahu in February 1978. The idea was to combine the Waikiki Rough Water Swim (2.4 mi), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi), and the Honolulu Marathon (26.2 mi). U.S. Navy Commander John Collins and a bunch of athletes sat around arguing about which race demanded the most fitness. They got the idea to string them together after CDR Collins and his wife Judy Collins had taken part in the triathlons staged in 1974 and 1975 by the San Diego Track Club in and around Mission Bay, California, as well as the 1975 Optimist Sports Fiesta Triathlon in Coronado, California..
- XTERRA began in 1996 on the island of Maui as the Aquaterra, and was later renamed the XTERRA. The race signifies the off-road triathlon race series. XTERRA is down and dirty; get ready to be bitten all over again.
- Triathlon made it Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000 and was featured in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
The 21st Century Pentathlon
Just like the pentathlon became outdated after each century, the 21st century is calling for a new pentathlon. The new format will include skydiving, swimming, biking, running/shooting (biathlon), and MMA fighting.
Much like a regular race, you'll have your morning breakfast to kick start your day. After you load up on carbs and fruit, you hop in your car and thank yourself for loading it the night before. This thing is full. Two gear bags and a tire in the back, and a bike on the roof. Check. Alls good except for one thing. Let's hope the bathroom situation at the race isn't ridiculous. Everyone's asleep and you're driving to jump out of a plane, do a triathlon, shoot guns, and fight. Why do I do this to myself? Ask yourself that again after the race.
You're standing in the middle of a Chinook Helicopter at 13,000 feet. There are sensors on both sides of the door and your timing chip is velcroed around your ankle, and an awkward tension in the air. Everyone ceremonially gives their gear one last check in complete silence. The light in the door switches from red to green, signaling that we're over our spot. People start diving out the back in 7 second intervals. The guy ahead of me had a real clean head-down exit. Man, these guys are good. I dive out, with a clean exit, and hold a head-down. I'm going at least 180mph right now, and thousands of feet are flying by in seconds. I have to belly out by four thousand and pull by three, otherwise the altimeter in my timing chip automatically deducts points. Arch, breath, relax. Toss your pilot-chute. And that's a clean on-heading opening. Now time to get down.
I'm under canopy and the clock is ticking. At a thousand feet, no turns over ninety. All the altitude before that is fair game, so I crank my toggle hard to one side and spiral down. I get into pattern and land in a grass field next to the transition area. Get out of my rig as fast as possible and jam it into my stuff bag. Good thing I jumped with my goggles and wetsuit. That'll shaves valuable seconds off my transition time. And I'm off to the transition area just to drop my rig and stash bag.
Now down to the water-front for a quick swim. The water isn't much of a shock after the morning sky bath I just had, and not much time think about it. People are barreling into the water after running across the timing mats. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
I pull myself out of the water. Sublimis ab unda is Latin for "raised from the waves". That's always how I feel at this leg of the race, and it always goes through my head at that moment. Ahhh, nothing says good-morning like a swim and a skydive. Time to head to the transition area and strip out of my dripping wetsuit, and grab my bike, shoes, and helmet. This is always my longest transition, but it's also my best event. Let's due some mountain biking.
I skid around the last corner, and clip out of one pedal right before I hit the dismount line. CLACK, CLACK, CLACK! I run through the transition area and hang my bike on the rack. Now that my senses are fried and all my muscles feel like Jello, I go through my mental checklist. Trail shoes, load bearing vest, ruck sack, and rifle. Check. Time for a little biathlon. This should be interesting.
I sling my rifle over my load bearing vest that's packed with extra mags and my holstered pistol. I take off running for the gates.
The trails are a little crowded getting out the gates, but once I break ahead of the pack it starts thinning out. I get to the first shooting station, and run across the timing mat into the holding area. There was already someone at the left station, so I got in line for the mirror station on the right. Okay, I'm up! "Make ready. Shooter ready?" I hear the loud buzz from the little blue box in the ref's hand. On instinct, I load my mags and put two in all the targets. Transition to my rifle and hit a couple poppers. I tear through the course like an animal. Every move just like I gamed in my head seconds before in the holding area. Not bad. Missed a couple cause I couldn't steady my shot after that run. But no time to worry about that. Time to hit the trail and keep running.
Six stations and a couple hundred rounds later, I airborne shuffle across the finish line. But I'm not done. Not even close. The event I've been dreading the most is still left, an MMA tournament. I was wondering how exhausted my body would feel. Time to get psyched. I just won some battles and now it's time to win the war. I drop my gear and weapons, and strap my gloves on. Lucky me. I was second across the finish line and my opponent is already waiting for me. I jog to the octagon feeling pretty pumped. I pop my mouthguard in and adjust my gloves one last time. "FIGHTER READY?", I match the ref's point with a quick nod. "FIGHTER READY?" He points to my opponent. "LET'S GET IT ON!"
Vision for the Future
Much like the ancient pentathlon of the Olympics, and CISM's ultimate goal, Delta Gear aims to contribute to world peace by uniting armed forces through sports. This era heralds a return to the athletic culture of ancient Greeks, where winning was valued not for its own sake but for the moral virtues that contribute to victory. Pentathletes will be admired, because they will possess the ideal combination of length, strength, speed and intellect. The winners of the games will be considered heroes.
Prepare your equipment, with greater inspiration, knowing the deeper roots in your lifestyle as a multisport athlete. Things you should bring:
- Parachute, altimeter, swim goggles, wetsuit, bike, helmet, sun glasses (optional), clip-in shoes (regular shoes acceptable), water bottles, pump, patch kit, running shoes, backpack, rifle, pistol, shotgun, ammunition, and MMA gloves.
- Any special needs items like snacks, toilet paper, sun screen, lip balm, medicine, etc.
- ID card and race packet