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Jasper Winter Pentathlon returning next week

Two cyclists participate in the Jasper Winter Pentathlon back in 2016. | File photo

Peter Shokeir | editor@fitzhugh.ca

Athletes will undertake five different sports in a row during the Jasper Winter Pentathlon at Mildred Lake at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge starting 11 a.m. on Feb. 5.

Organized by the ACFA Régionale de Jasper, the pentathlon is a multisport event featuring biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and running in that order.“The idea for the Jasper Winter Pentathlon came from a similar event taking place in Québec city,” said Caroline Roy with the ACFA in an email interview.

“In 2010, the federal government had grants available to promote the spirit of the Winter Olympics. The ACFA Régionale de Jasper and École Desrochers received one of those grants, and the Jasper Winter Pentathlon was born.”

The pentathlon did not run in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic.

“We haven’t been able to host the event in the last two years, and we hope that the community is excited with the opportunity to take part in an outdoor sporting event right here in Jasper,” Roy said.

Pre-registration and race package pickup goes from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

At 10:45 a.m., organizers gather everyone to go over the details of the event, and the race itself begins at 11 a.m. and usually takes up to three hours to complete.

Soon after the last participant crosses the finish line, organizers announce the Best Team Costume, Best Team Spirit, Fastest Team, Fastest Female Soloist, Fastest Male Soloist and draw prizes for all participants.

Over the years, the pentathlon has had participants as young as eight and as old as 70, and it is ultimately meant to be flexible, inclusive and non-competitive.

“Our mission is to provide an opportunity for all to get out and get active in the winter, no matter the age or the fitness level you are,” Roy said.

“Of course, if you are up for the challenge, soloing the event might just be the right amount to make it a challenge, but if you want to simply get out and do one of the sports, putting a team together would be just the right amount for you.”

Organizers are expecting up to 100 participants this year.

The pentathlon does not supply any equipment necessary to participate, but a few businesses in town rent out equipment.

To protect the health of participants, organizers will ensure participants maintain at least two metres between households or an individual and their close contacts.

Masking is not required for outdoor fitness activities except when close contact is required for instruction and potentially during the gatherings before and after the event if distancing is not possible.

The names and contact information of all participants are also being collected.

Roy thanked the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge for hosting the event on its property, and also Friends of Jasper National Park for flat packing the biking and running trails.

“Their support is crucial for the success of our event and we are thrilled to be working with both of them,” she said.

Athletes can register for the pentathlon through Eventbrite until midnight on Feb. 4.

Follow the Pentathlon on Instagram and Facebook at @JasperWinterPentathlonHivernal for more details and the latest on the event.

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