What is Pentathlon?

The modern pentathlon is multi-sport competition created by Pierre de Coubertin as a showcase event for the Olympic Games.  The sport consists of fencing, swimming, equestrian, and combined running and laser pistol marksmanship competitions.  The events take place over the course of several hours in a single day and while no individual event is strenuous for an athlete specializing in it, the combination and variety makes modern pentathlon the first “extreme endurance” sport.

Swimming-A freestyle competition ranging from 50 to 200 meters in length depending on age group.

Fencing-A 1-touch, round-robin epee competition in which competitors face everyone in their fencing group.  Age groups are often combined for this event to create the 24 person field required for balanced scoring.

Equestrian (optional)-Riders navigate a fifteen jump course on a horse they meet twenty minutes before the event.  While international jumps range up to 4 feet in height, national and regional courses rarely go over 3 feet.  At national level and below, this event is optional and only for experienced riders competing in the Junior, Senior, and Masters brackets.

Combined-The combined competition includes running and laser pistol marksmanship.  Competitors complete sets of laser pistol marksmanship, where they attempt to hit a target 5 times (or spend 50 seconds trying), and run a cross country loop.  The Junior and Senior age brackets complete four sets on an 800m course, with distances ranging to as low as 1 set of 400m for the youngest athletes.