Sarah: My Pentathlon Blog
In this Olympic year, Sarah Brown and Lorraine Kelly are taking on the Modern Pentathlon to raise money for PiggyBankKids. It's part of the Gold Challenge, which will see thousands of people up and down Britain getting into the Olympic spirit and raising money for charity in the process. With lots of PiggyBankKids supporters taking part too (fancy it?), Sarah wanted to lead the way. She recruited ITV's Lorraine Kelly to the cause - and the whole thing will now be broadcast on Lorraine's show in the coming weeks. In the first of a series, here's Sarah on how training has been going so far...
Friday 24th February 2012
A day after the event and I can reflect on all the ups and downs of taking on a Modern Pentathlon. I look back partly proud that I achieved all the sports – horse riding, running and shooting combined, fencing and swimming –and also slightly appalled that I found it so tough.
My admiration for the young athletes who are training every day to win one of the few coveted slots on the British Olympic Pentathlon team –just two each for the men’s and women’s teams – has grown immeasurably. They're so lucky to have the fantastic surroundings of the University of Bath's Sports Training Village in which in which to hone their skills. Thanks to the pentathlon team at Bath for letting me have a go!
It has been quite a gym journey for me. I wandered into my local Bannatyne’s a few months ago sure that I just had to upgrade my fitness a little. I am a regular exercise bunny of the Pilates/Zumba class/swimming variety.
When I introduced myself to Will the Trainer, he did raise his eyebrows ever so slightly when I explained what I needed to do and my deadline. But he agreed to create a programme for running, running and more running combined with alien activities like weights (weights!), rowing and energetic one minute activities involving bean bags, boxing gloves and yet more weights .... Will is very sure that weights are good for girls, and having now completed a pentathlon I can't exactly say he is wrong.
My first round on the treadmill was appalling. It turns out that fitness in one sport is not always transferable to another, which tells you just how tough taking on five different sports can be... The discouraging thing was just how truly hard it is to take up a new sport from scratch – the more inspiring thing was the improvement which comes with sticking at it – no matter how low the starting baseline.
Come the actual day, I found myself running and shooting with Olympic hopeful – and ranked 21 in the whole world – Katy Burke. What a brilliant person she is, so upbeat and determined, and her running looked effortless, her shooting very focused. It did keep me going to know I had her running alongside, but I am very mindful that she was slowing right down for me. Her best time for alternating 1km runs with 5 rounds of shooting is just over 11 minutes for the lot – it took more than twice as long to get round with me!
The shooting did turn out to be one of my strong points, and I remember my coach Bill Bland’s advice keep steady and go easy on the trigger. I think that my dedication to Pilates paid off here as much of shooting technique seems to come from stability and core balance. As a left-hander I had borrowed a laser gun from Rob Flack, the only left-handed Pentathlete on the British circuit which meant I was in with a chance of scoring some points. I was thrilled to get 14 out of the 15 hits I needed across my three rounds, and even finished one set of 5 with a few seconds to spare heading off up the running track to be joined by Katy just seconds later for our final kilometre! Jan Bartu, the team coach was watching it all with his expert eye, and even gave me a bit of encouragement and praise at this stage – I was happy to take all the bonus points I could get.
The learning curve for fencing was even higher. I had benefited from expert instruction with Yosif Angelinov from Dream Fencing. The comfort of being in the hands of experts goes a long way to building confidence. And the experience of trying something like fencing, so far removed from anything I have ever done before was exhilarating. I had a lot of fun practicing with Lorraine, but can't claim any prowess as a fencer. What I have learnt is how to watch a good fencer in action, and my opponent Samantha Murray had just come top in a recent contest in Budapest and is a real rising star. She has the same metallic glint in her eye as her epee so it is just as well we were wearing masks – this is one determined athlete who we will hear more of in years to come.
I don’t think I was aggressive enough, nor elegant enough, but I gave it my best, and focused hard on my fancy footwork. Samantha was kind enough to let me score a few points, but it will not surprise you to know that I did not win that round.
I finished my day with the swim with the luxury of an empty 50 metre pool. All day I have been cheered on at different stages by various athletes including Mhairi Spence, Heather Fell, Freyja Prentice and Sam Weale. Now I meet Jamie Cooke, the leading male Pentathlete who has already qualified (though this does not automatically mean a place). He is joins us poolside with his glamorous gymnast girlfriend, Georgina Cassar who is nursing an injured knee and waiting to discover next week if a judge’s ruling lets rhythm gymnastics into the Olympics at all (a whole other story….)
Jamie gives me some top tips for my swim which I cannot divulge as I don’t want to give away any secrets to his international competitors. What everyone recommends though is using Lane 4- the swimmer’s lucky lane!
Despite the audience, I get going and dive in and give it my best go up and down the pool. The pool is so huge that I actually complete my distance in ‘just’ 4 lengths. I reach the end to a nice round of applause from everyone on the benches.
I really missed Lorraine – especially back at the start of the challenge when I went to meet my riding instructor Steve Banting and his wife Anna, with Harvey, my horse for the day. The jumps were set up and I had to just focus on getting around. In my last training session I had completed 6 jumps in a row, and now I needed to double that number.
Steve and the rest of the team were as safety conscious as ever, and I was very mindful of Lorraine’s accident, so I did it all at a sedate pace. Four good jumps and eight very restrained walks in the right direction over the jumps, and we called it a day for that section.
Steve and the rest of the team were as safety conscious as ever, and I was very mindful of Lorraine’s accident, so I did everything at a sedate pace. Four good jumps and eight very restrained walks in the right direction over the jumps, and we called it a day for that section.
Lorraine sent me a lovely message wishing me luck for the day and full of good wishes for the cause we are both backing with our Gold Challenge for PiggyBankKids.Both of us take on all kinds of charity challenges – she walked across a giant desert for Comic Relief last year – but you never really think that the risks will turn out to be real. We took every safety precaution but even so you only imagine they are precautions. I know both of us will be more thoughtful and wiser about our challenge choices in the future, but I am glad I completed the Modern Pentathlon to seal the deal for all our supporters of PiggyBankKids.
I also take my hat off to the Modern Pentathletes – to be proficient in one sport is impressive but to excel in five very different sports is extraordinary, and takes real dedication and courage .No wonder the sport is held right at the end of the Olympics as the finishing flourish to a great tournament.My day finished with an official presentation of the Team GB Pentathlon Squad jacket from Team leader Dominic Mahony and Jamie Cooke. The jackets fits perfectly. I am on the Squad!
The British Pentathlete Squad
We have seven women excelling in the Modern Pentathlon at the moment, but only two will be selected for the British Olympic team:
Heather Fell @heatherfellnews
Heather claimed the silver medal in the Beijing 2008 Olympic games (watched by me ringside!). She is #8 in the world and wants London 2012 to be the year for Gold.
Freyja Prentice @freyjaprentice
Like many pentathletes (but not all) Freyja loves horses and came from Pony Club to become an Olympic hopeful. She has already reached the qualifying standard, although this does not guarantee her a team place. She is ranked #13 in the world, and #2 in the world junior rankings. See a recent interview here.
Katy Burke @KT_Burke
One of our top women pentathletes Katy has the current #21 slot, but is hoping to climb higher to get a chance on the British Olympic squad.
Samantha Murray @_samanthamurray
A young face on the scene, Samantha is one to watch and very determined to go all the way in her career. She is currently #72 and gained first place in Budapest last month.
Katy Livingston @katylivo
Katy was one of the two women at the Beijing Olympics, and is currently #77 in the world
Sarah Brown @SarahBrownUK
Apparently a novice with no world ranking but makes up for this with her enthusiasm and sheer determination to see the British team do brilliantly at London 2012.
Of the three Male Team GB Pentathletes, again only two will be selected for the British Olympic Team. These are the guys to watch out for:
Jamie Cooke @jamiecooke_5
Jamie is ranked #18 in the world, and is the #1 ranked pentathlete in the world junior rankings. He has already qualified for the Olympics but must wait until 8th June to see if he is picked for the British squad. Have a look at an interview with him here.
Nick Woodbridge @NickWoodbridge
Nick is #28 in the world. He also came through the Pony Club and has been riding since the age of three!
Sam Weale @samweale
Sam is #40 in the world and has eyes set on higher. He must be very good at training, because he is not a very good tweeter. Best to see him in action on his website www.samweale.com or on this YouTube clip.
And so we don’t ignore the left handers of this world, my equipment supplier...
Rob Flack @Rob_Flack
He is just out of the intensive rehab unit, but not to be ignored!
You can also follow Pentathlon Team GB Leader Dominic Mahony on @dominicmahony. He knows his stuff as a former medallist from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the team leader for the women’s pentathlon for the last four Olympic Games.
The Team GB Olympic selection for Modern Pentathlon is announced on 8th June 2012.
The Modern Pentathlon takes place right at the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the men competing on 11th August, and the women competing on 12th August. The women’s gold medal is the final medal of the games, and the ceremony takes place less than two hours before the closing ceremony. I can’t wait!
Wednesday 22nd February 2012
Wow, I did it. All of it. Amazing. The riding was safe and steady, with a hat tipped to Lorraine recuperating in a London hospital after her fall. The running was as grim as the weather, but I did alarmingly well at the shooting going for 5 targets in between each 1km run (I got 14 out of 15, not bad). And I got to run with Pentathlete Katy Burke alongside who was very polite, keeping it down to my speed.
At the midway point I got a cup of tea and energy boosting banana. I sat in the sports cafe and had a great chat with Mhairi Spence, hearing just what attracted her to the sport. Refreshed I go and get myself kitted out for the next round.
The fencing was brilliant as my opponent was an Olympic hopeful Samantha Murray, who taught me a few tricks should I find myself epée in hand again. We were watched by Silver medallist Heather Fell and rising star Freyja Prentice – no pressure then! And finally the swimming, after some coaching tips from Jamie Cooke (pictured above with team leader Dominic Mahony) who has already qualified for London 2012 - see here for a recent interview. This was the last challenge of the day and I just went for it, drawing on all my junior swimming clubs days. I was very, very glad when it was over. Very pleased with my achievement, and very tired too. So not much blogging now. I will write it up in full later, and there’ll be more pictures to follow too, but for now, a massive thank you to everyone who made the day possible – and thank you to everyone who has made or pledged a donation to PiggyBankKids!
Tuesday 21st February 2012
Some terrible news this afternoon that Lorraine has fallen from her horse while training, and been rushed to hospital. She is being very brave, but it all sounds very shocking and traumatic.
As we wait for updates on how she is doing, I realise that I need to go ahead with the Modern Pentathlon tomorrow on my own. So many arrangements are in place thanks to Team Bath at the High Performance Centre at University of Bath, and the Pentathlon Team GB with support from Sport England and the Lottery-funded UK Sport. And that’s not including the Gold Challenge people and everyone at PiggyBankKids. I also know that there is not a later date where we will revisit this.
Lorraine’s top priority is to rest and recover. Mine is to get a good night’s sleep and get on with the job tomorrow.
Get Well Soon Lorraine.
Monday 20th February 2012
I have done as much as I can training for a Modern Pentathlon. I have not doubt there is more I could have done, but it all has to take place around a normal, busy life. Today is Gordon’s birthday so I am having a day off with cake, but at least it has a sporting theme!
Friday 17th February 2012
In a week where the donations for PiggyBankKids have come from friends, family, Twitter people and a surprise cheque from long time supporter Elle Macpherson, I am starting to feel the pressure to deliver a mighty good effort to say thank you to everyone!
Lorraine is sending me secret messages on Twitter calling me to account for training more than her – to be fair I don’t have a TV programme to present every week day morning so can sneak in a few more laps around the track and swimming pool. I am also a riding session ahead of her as I did my final lesson this week (Lorraine does hers next week and I know she will do just fine).
So my big riding news is that I managed SIX jumps in a row at the riding stables –I say ‘I managed’ but obviously I sat on top of Harvey the wonder horse as he hurtled around the riding ring jumping and jumping. The good news is I stayed on. The not so good news is that this time I did feel the aches and pains the next day in my neck and back –presumably from the shoulder tension from gripping on so tightly to those reins.
I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel now – the countdown to next week is on and I plan to squeeze in a couple more Will the Trainer sessions back in Dunfermline. A week of half term holidays has meant that the running has slipped a bit. And I have tracked down a left-handed Modern Pentathlete to lend me a left handed pistol for the laser shooting – I will send a piggybank to the first person who can figure out who that is and send me the correct answer on Twitter (competing athletes disqualified from this particular competition).
Don’t forget you can sponsor Sarah and Lorraine at www.justgiving.com/sarahandlorraine. Every donation counts, big or small!
Wednesday 8th February 2012
A week of running, running, running – and surprisingly I am getting a little bit better. It is not my natural gift, but even I will admit to some progress. I have stuck it out on the treadmill until now, but do wonder if I dare venture outside on to real roads. I do realise that the Pentathlon track will not automatically roll away under my feet with a backing track from Adele or Rihanna, so I think the great outdoors awaits me this week.
I did one session this week with lovely Will The Trainer – who thinks it is amusing to ‘build on my progress’ with circuits – roaring around the gym hall doing all kinds of weird and wonderful exercises for a minute each at top speed. I have learned from experience to tip up without make-up on to avoid the full Panda Look after a few lunges and jumping jacks. My new favourite exercise was boxing this week – after a rotten couple of days, Will could not have picked a better exercise for getting out the frustration at life’s unfairness.
It was slightly alarming to hear Will say (he was holding the pads, I had the gloves) he could see the anger flash in my eyes, but this has been one of those weeks, with sudden news at the weekend that a friend had died very unexpectedly. We had all enjoyed a great evening at the theatre just a few weeks ago laughing at James Corden’s One Man, Two Guvnors which made it all the more unbelievable. It is times like this that make us all wake up and remember to value every day, and cherish and hold close those we care about most.
And for those people who don’t get a fair start in life it is so much harder. That is why at PiggyBankKids, we have focused so hard on supporting all kinds of amazing projects over the years that provide education, sports, mentoring and health support to the most vulnerable children and families in the UK, and more recently around the world.
I edited a book a few years ago inviting all kinds of well known and successful people to share their thoughts on the people in their lives who had made a difference. It was truly inspirational to recognize just how the actions of school teachers, club leaders and mentors had touched so many young lives to make a profound and positive lasting difference. Whether it has been our Granny Schools (offering first time grandparents a refresher course to care for newborns) or one to one mentoring or sports provision for teenagers, we know we have reached all kinds of children. And our investment in the ground breaking Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory has seen young scientists undertake painstaking detailed work to gather more information and better understanding to ensure safer pregnancies and better care of premature babies who have the toughest start in life. The work we do now will contribute to improving the quality of their future lives.
PiggyBankKids is marking its 10th anniversary later this year and we have much to celebrate. We also have a great determination to do more and we plan to take the laboratory work to the next level with an ambitious programme to save and improve the quality of new born lives – the start of everything.
That is why this Pentathlon is so important to me as the funds raised all go to support the work of PiggyBankKids. So every pony jump, fencing move or lap of the track contributes to the best cause I know: improving the quality of life for those unlucky enough to have an unfair or vulnerable start.
So a big thank you to all of you who have made a donation to support PiggyBankKids. I love all the encouraging comments on the JustGiving page to drive us forward – every £ and every word helps I promise you. I laughed when I read what one of our first donors wrote: “I thought that the Pentathlon was a Truth Drug" – and as Lorraine and I get deeper into this commitment, it feels as though it might be a way to find out the truth about exactly what we are made of – the good bits and the areas where - lets say - there is still some more work to do.
Just so you don’t just have to take my word for it on how Lorraine and I are doing with our training efforts here is a recent blog from Fencing trainer Yosif Angelinov.
And here I can share with you the joy of getting covered by Horse and Country TV (a terrific Jilly Cooperesque moment) with a word from our excellent riding instructor, Mr Steve Banting.
Wednesday 1st February 2012
I got a tweet from someone saying that Fencing is like Dancing but with Edge (credit to @Peter_Mun), and that seems to sum it up. Lorraine and I tipped up at Medway Park, home to Pentathlon GB South East region, and we are ready to expand our Modern Pentathlon skills. Both of us had busy starts this morning; I've been preparing for a maternal health meeting, and Lorraine more amusingly has been interviewing both PA and former Dallas star Charlene Tilton. So we arrive distracted and not really prepared. This changes fast once the epees came out.
Our fencing coach Yosif Angelinov from Dream Fencing is a former National Champion of Bulgaria, and these days is teacher to around 250 kids a week in South London as well as preparing some of our British talent for competitions. He takes us through the basic moves (forward, forward, back, back, forward, strike). It is all a bit Three Musketeers every time Yosif says “En Garde”, but we are advised to keep our epées straight and not be tempted by any Star Wars light sabre-style manoeuvres. Lorraine and I gave it our all and, helped by all the body suits, masks and dangerously long foils, I think we look the part.
After a quick lunch, we turn our attention to the final sport we have to undertake as part of our challenge. The laser shooting is carried out in a firing range at the Medway Park centre and we are lined up aiming at our targets with Bill, our fire arms instructor. Straight arm out holding the laser gun, one eye shut, holding steady and aiming true. It is not as easy as it looks but we both improve as we practice. The catch in the Modern Pentathlon is that the laser shooting takes place in between each kilometre of running – so it is done with a pounding heart making that straight steady arm harder to achieve. Well, we will do our best to hit our five targets on each round, and whatever happens this has been a lot of fun.
It is also encouraging to be engaging with the real Olympic British hopefuls for the 2012 Modern Pentathlon on Twitter – Heather Fell, Samantha Murray, Katy Livingston, Nick Woodbridge, James Cooke, Katy Burke and Mhairi Spence. Nothing like an expert eye to keep you going!
Support us here:
Monday 31st January 2012
Sunday 29th January 2012
Here is how signing up for a sporting challenge that is actually beyond you happens…
First a simple cup of tea to catch up with Lorraine Kelly where she asks, as a longtime PiggyBankKids supporter, how she can help; then a bit of chit chat about how PiggyBankKids supporters are raising funds taking on different Olympic sports through the Gold Challenge; and before we know it we have talked ourselves into our own challenge. We want to try something new, the Modern Pentathlon comes to mind and is certainly that!
I was fortunate to attend the Beijing Olympics with Gordon in 2008 for the handover at the closing ceremony to the new London hosts to prepare for 2012. We arrived in China in time to congratulate our wonderful British sportsmen and women who had garnered many medals and accolades for our country. We arrived just in time to see the final of the Women’s Modern Pentathlon and see Heather Fell (Twitter: @HeatherFellNews) triumph in the fencing and go on to claim the Silver Medal. Their coach Dominic Mahony was there to explain how the scoring worked with everyone completing their five sports in the fastest times. Dominic himself had picked up a Bronze Medal on the Men’s Modern Pentathlon in Korea 1988 so knows the sport inside out. I was fascinated then and entirely understood with just the brief glimpse I got just how it stretched the athlete across the different disciplines. Being good on one sport was not enough, you had to excel across the swimming, show jumping, fencing, laser shooting and running.
Watch Heather Fell and teammates show how it's done...
Neither Lorraine nor I will be impressive Pentathletes, but our goal to complete all the challenges when we have never even tried three of the sports before seems daunting enough. I have got off to a reasonable start with my training and am making slow progress, but at least in the right direction. Here in Davos, after three days of trying to squeeze in my daily run and gym exercises, I am seriously wondering what on earth I think I am doing. Although I normally keep up regular exercise and think of myself as a pretty healthy person, I am never going to be much of a runner. The thin Alpine air, a treacherously tight Achilles Heel and not enough sleep – and I am bright red and out of breath within minutes on the running machine. I literally just want to sit down and sob. Is this normal at this stage of training I wonder?
I know that inexperienced runners preparing for a first time marathon often do well at the start of their training and then reach a point when they feel like they are slipping backwards and will never do it – all of which gets overcome on the final day when crossing the finish line. I hope that in a busy week on the ‘education for all’ campaign trail here at the World Economic Forum it is just a bit tough squeezing in the training, and back under the guidance of Will at my local gym next week I will recover my decidedly average, but nonetheless welcome, form.
In the meantime I am cheered by an out of the blue Twitter message. I tweeted @SarahBrownUK: Fitting in a bit of modern pentathlon training in between the Davos meetings is not much fun #justsaying.
And got the reply back @dominicmahony: hang in there! Any combination of ‘activities’ will do. #makeitcount
My pal from Beijing has spotted my troubles and as a natural Modern Penthatlon Team Leader, he is right there to give me a bit of encouragement. If his words have half as much impact on Heather Fell and the rest of our British team at the Olympics we are going to do well again in the medals department. I, for one, will be watching.
Wednesday 25th January
I had not factored in any Altitude Training for my Modern Pentathlon effort. Aside from swimming I am a novice at the whole thing – and the running is particularly unattractive option for me. I started on Monday with a brutal session with my enthusiastic PT, Will (a 3km run, followed by 2000metres rowing, some very mean bicep curls designed to make hanging on to horse reins a bit easier, and then a 200 metre swim finish finale - and finished I was!!)
So by Tuesday I was ready for a nice ‘travel’ day off as I headed from Scotland to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum. No thoughts of active exercise were in my head as I read a novel on the two plane journeys to Zurich and then chatted to my friend Tammy as we drove up the mountain side through thick snow to this fortified village for a week of world leaders and others meeting to help shape a better world.
I am here with the Education for All initiative determined to make the case for the 67 million children who don’t get a single day at school. Gordon and I are part of a group of organisations and individuals who are very focused this year on creating these new school places by 2015 so that no child misses out. My job is make quite a lot of noise about it, and Davos is a good place to do that. The charity, PiggyBankKids - who I am devoting all my Pentathlon sponsorship to - is already supporting a new initiative called Education Without Borders to determine how best to teach children in countries affected by extreme conflict or terrible natural disasters. Our first pilot will be in South Sudan and we are talking to people in Northern Kenya and Somalia too. In South Sudan which has a population the size of London - around 10 million - only 400 girls get as far as secondary school (compare that to around 150,000 teenage girls in London).
So all that in mind as an incentive to keep going, I tracked down a gym with a bike and a running machine and signed up for my frosty week in Davos. Moments into my run this morning I was gasping for breath and totally perplexed as to why I was finding it so hard. All I had done was a little warm up on the bike and got on the dreaded running machine to find myself nearly bent double. I am the first to admit I am NOT a runner of any merit and started my initial programme very cautiously with some ‘interval training’. In my beginner’s week I alternated 1 minute runs with 2 minutes walking and have worked my way over the weeks to 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking to get to my 4 kilometres needed for the Pentathlon. I am mindful that Lorraine has a few full marathons and Moonwalks under her belt (though she is insistent that these are at a very sedate pace). So on balance I have been happy enough with my progress (also helped by the fact that I have yet to compare my times with the Olympic athletes themselves - I will do that in a future blog). So this setback amidst the snowy peaks had me close to tears and immediately worrying that I could not possibly achieve my target in a few weeks’ time. Then I realised - snowy peaks was the clue - that the air is much thinner up here in the Swiss mountains. I am effectively doing some sort of tortuous altitude training - and set to keep it up for the next few days. Well I hope this means that I suddenly appear to improve once I get back to down to sea level again next week. Onwards and upwards as I seem to remember my school motto was.
Tuesday 17th January
First day of horse riding with Lorraine Kelly as we prepare for our Pentathlon. It is a while since we had a cup of coffee and Lorraine uttered the fateful words “what can I do to help PiggyBankKids?” that resulted in us both signing up to the Gold Challenge.
Neither Lorraine nor I have done much more than sit on a horse once or twice as a child so we are both definitely a bit nervous at the prospect of becoming champion show jumpers within two lessons. We meet our instructor, Steve Banting at Chessington Equestrian Centre, who tells us we have the perfect weather (bright and cold) – he is entirely confident we can pull this off, but will have a job convincing the pair of us. However, he did recently train two lads on Ant and Dec’s Push the Button in just a few hours to ride a three furlong race at Kempton – you can see them do it here.
We meet Patchwork and Harvey, the two horses chosen for their sunny – and I suspect patient – dispositions and get going. What happens next seems not much short of a miracle. In less than two hours, we are both merrily trotting around the teaching arena, and near the end of our time even have a go at a canter. I can’t quite believe we managed that in one session, but we are in the hands of both a good teacher and good horses that know what they doing.
The top tips seem to be holding the reins short, getting a good trotting bounce going, and – crucially – remembering to breathe at the same time.
I have a feeling that we are both going to have sore legs tomorrow, but there is no chance to rest up as it is back on the treadmill in the morning to clock up the running miles. That’s the thing about a pentathlon is just as you do well on one sport, you can’t rest on your laurels – you have to get going with the next one. My admiration for the Olympic athletes grows daily.
Monday 16th January
Thank you to every one who has already signed up to support my JustGiving page for PiggyBankKids. I am now very focused on fulfilling my part of the deal - you donate; I run, swim, shoot, fence and jump fences (thankfully on a horse for that last bit) (although on second thoughts I might do better without the horse).
I can do the basics - well the swimming bit is straightforward, and the running is technically possible, though a bit more work with Will the Trainer is needed to reduce the 'running like a duck' factor and the 'beetroot red faced finish'. This week I have my first serious horse riding lesson, but more of that when I get to the stable (can you tweet from a saddle? we shall find out...)
First of all you might like to know just what a Modern Pentathlon entails. There are five events, which we’ll be completing in the order that the Olympic team tells us.
There’s a combined run/shoot, which is a 3km run with stops every 1km to stand (with a furious racing heart and shaking hands) and attempt to hit 5 targets shooting with a laser hand gun.
Then there’s the fencing competition, which uses the épée. The competitors pair up and face each other in a tense match lasting up to one minute, the first fencer to score a hit wins instantly. If neither scores within one minute, we both lose the match.
The freestyle swim is 200m (this is about 8 lengths of big 25m pool, and the aim is to do it as fast as possible).
And there’s show jumping too, over a 350–450m course with 12 to 15 obstacles. You only meet your horse 20 minutes before the start of the event!
All in all, a bit of a challenge.
I hope to keep up a regular blog about my training efforts and the actual performance. Of course, I will explain how Lorraine and I talked ourselves into doing this, how we are connecting with the Gold Challenge initiative for charity, and how we are engaging with the ACTUAL British Modern Pentathlon team who seem superhuman in doing everything in record time.
I will keep you all posted. In the meantime, please sponsor me at www.justgiving.com/sarahandlorraine.