The idea of a pentathlon event at the Olympics stretches back to ancient Greece where sporting superstars vied with each other over four track and field events and then had a bit of a wrestle to decide the winner. The competition was reborn in 1912 when the father of the modern games, Baron de Coubertin, promoted a version that was meant to simulate the kind of tests that might face a soldier on a mission and featured pistol shooting, fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a cross-country run. Since then there have been various bits of tinkering with the format, the most radical being the switch in 1996 to holding all five events in one day rather than having one on each of five days and the most recent being the incorporation of the shooting portion into the final running section (a bit like the biathlon in the Winter Olympics).
Never shy of a challenge, we have reinvented the Modern Pentathlon once again to celebrate the Games arriving in our fair city and, like the good Baron, we have a scenario in mind. We want the competition to reflect the transportation challenges facing the modern Londoner as they go about their daily lives: getting into town from across the river, hiring a Boris bike, negotiating the West End’s theatreland, chasing after buses and finally running the last desperate yards to your chosen destination.
So here, in all its shiny, urban glory, is our very own Londonist Modern Pentathlon! It’s intended as a competition for a small group of friends or like-minded acquaintances. Below, we offer advice on scoring, but first, here are the events themselves…
River Crossing – Start from the same point as your friends on the South bank of the River Thames. Agree a target location on the North bank. Each player must cross the river by a different means to all the others (lots could be drawn if you’re organised, dibs could be taken or simply do it first come first served). Target time 15 minutes.
Show Jumping – All start at the same point in the West End. The object is to return to that spot as quickly as possible having collected a flyer from the foyers of any 12 theatres. Target time 20 minutes.
Riding – All start at the same Boris Bike docking station. Agree a finishing docking station. Cycle there using Boris Bikes from any 3 other stations on the way. Target time 30 minutes.
Running and Shooting – For the final, combined event you will each need a digital camera of some kind. All start at the same point and agree a finishing point (we suggest a place of refreshment after all this charging about). Make your way there on foot only, collecting snaps of London buses with five different route numbers on the way. Target time 20 minutes.
Your scoring could reflect the Modern Pentathlon up to 1952 where points were given for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. (as in a Formula 1 Grand Prix). Alternatively, you could penalise competitors 1 point for each minute taken over the target time for the event, in which case the person with fewest penalty points wins.
We wish you all the best as you test your mettle against this very latest of sporting endeavours and look forward to your stories and photographs as you blaze a trail for London!
Picture by “scratch n sniff” from the Londonist Flickr pool.
Get the Londonist lowdown on all official Olympic and Paralympic sports.