Fifteen teams and one soloist signed up for the Winter Pentathlon Hivernal on February 4, the five-event festival that was organized once again by the local francophone association, ACFA.
Playing out on the snow-covered shores, sun-polished ice and tramped-down trails surrounding Mildred Lake at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, the 12th annual event saw mild temperatures and major fun as participants biked, cross-country skied, snowshoed, skated a ran a 30-kilometre course while onlookers cheered enthusiastically.
The fastest team of the day was the denim-clad “Miss Fit and the Misfits,” whose aerodynamic outfits helped Ryan Burlingame, Griffin Dare, Thayne Harden, Chris Waldinsperger and Maddie Trottier crank out a killer time.
The day’s lone soloist, Jo Nadeau, had some near-catastrophic mechanical issues with his bike which set him back several precious minutes. Luckily, he happened upon a helpful Parks Canada employee who was working near the race course and who had the precise tool Nadeau needed to get back on track. After his bike was put back together, Nadeau chased down the rest of the pack and at the end of the race, the 41-year-old was only five minutes off the lead. The soloist crossed the finish line before all but one team.
From Lake Mildred, bikers did a seven-kilometre loop towards Old Fort Point and back before tagging their relay partners.
Cross-country skiers had perhaps the most challenging leg of the Pentathlon; icy course conditions caused more than a few mishaps along their 5 kilometre skitter along Lac Mildred’s sun-affected shoreline.
Those who signed up for the snowshoe event got off somewhat easy. Typically, running with the cumbersome footwear is relegated to the teammate who draws the shortest straw. But with very little snow to work with, course maintenance staff at the JPL were unable to groom a suitable snowshoeing lane. As a result, participants ran sans misery slippers.
Skating eight laps around the freshly-flooded surface of Mildred Lake is typically a serene way to take in the romance of the Rockies. At the Pentathlon on Saturday, while the scene was still idyllic, it was more passionate than romantic as competitors put their fastest feet forward to out-duel one another. Pro-tip to avoid wrenching your back over 7.36 kilometres: swing those arms!
After getting tagged by their skating teammates, runners galloped along Trail 7 for the Pentathlon’s final five kilometres.
Students from École Desrochers were on hand serving up maple taffy wands—or tire sur la neige—to fundraise for a trip to theatre camp.
Part of the spirit of the Jasper Pentathlon Hivernal is celebrating those who have fun, no matter where they finish. While their total time was impressive, Team Blizzard of Oz took the people’s choice for the Best Costume award.
And for their dusting of the competition, the French Maids easily swept the award for Best Team Spirit.
The Winter Pentathlon had one youth-exclusive team, the Ninjas, whose stealth and speed were on display on the course and, when prompted by the camera, at the finish line.
Bob Covey // email@example.com