Jasper winter pentathlon – a soloist’s account

A ‘winter pentathlon’ you say with a big question mark?

Just think: Triathlon + two extra legs + snow and ice = the Jasper winter pentathlon.

Like the Polar Bear Dip this event was also part of the Jasper in January festival and the fourth annual pentathlon had a solid turnout of 22 teams. Of the 22 teams there were 6 of us who took the dive into the challenge of a solo conquest.

The weather was absolutely beautiful for some physical suffering. Blue skies galore and a pleasant (by Canadian standards) high of -1.

Angry birds team!
Angry birds team!

So first up for the day, what I thought would be the easiest of all legs – a 7km mountain bike. When the cap gun fired I started off strong but a decent hill combined with a severe lack of riding had me gasping for air like a fish out of water and fingers going numb like…arrr the polar bear dip…

Next up was the 5km cross country ski around the edge of the lake. For the second time ever on cross country skis I did pretty well. Passed a couple of people and had some others zoooommmm past me like they had an invisible jet pack strapped on. Clearly Canadians. Even though these zoooommmmers were just doing the one leg they were still flying at double my pace.

So sitting somewhere around the middle of the pack it was time to don some snowshoes and go for a 2.5km run around the lake again – this inevitably meant run – walk – run – walk – run – walk – run. I’d have to say this was the toughest leg. The big clumsy snowshoes (which you lock your boots into) are not made for running and everyone running this leg had their work cut out for them.

Snowshoeing fun

Back at transition it was time for ice skates! Little did I know the time I was about to lose on the ice…

So yeah I’ve skated a few times and thought I was decent until…de de derrr…meet Canadian ice skaters in a race! For starters we had to skate 7km! A mission in itself that took me 43 minutes – meanwhile the fastest did it in 21 minutes. Crazy stuff!

So leaving me in dead last after a mediocre skate I began the final leg with gusto. A 4km trail run through hardened snow. In a way like running through wet sand but with much greater risk for ankle injury. One section I walked – just too precarious.

With only a few hundred metres left I caught and passed the team in front and made it back to the finish to a roaring reception after 2 hours 42 min total race time. It really was fantastic hearing everyone’s support. Great team spirit Jasper and a great event! Thank you.

Look its me about to be overlapped


A happy finisher :)
A happy finisher 🙂

3 thoughts on “Jasper winter pentathlon – a soloist’s account”

  1. I’ll say this blog is the best yet. Very engaging. So was the ride a downhill track (single track or fire road)? Good job. What speed would you (and the pro’s) have been hitting on the ice skating?

    1. Thanks! The ride was a road ride on a mountain bike. Mostly uphill from Jasper to the lake. You should be able to calculate that. Me – about 10km/hr ave, fastest about 20. But the course was really twisty, like an icy mario kart level.

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