West Coast Pentathlon, organized in 2006, is one of the few active modern pentathlon clubs in the country. Our president is Pat Duffy, who has had decades of experience leading youth groups and more than 25 years in US Pony Club.
Our club formed as an offshoot of Pony Club. Most of our Pony Club members competed regionally and nationally in tetrathlon (running, swimming, shooting and riding) so we just needed to add fencing. Most of us got hooked when we attended the pentathlon camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in December of 2005.
Local members of the club meet regularly for training but since we have members all over the country, most of us only see each other at camps and competitions – or on little field trips to places like Ireland that Pat loves to arrange.
We started out as a youth organization,with most of our members in their mid-teens. Now we have members ranging from age 8 to 28, with many of our orginal members now in college.
Anyone is invited to join our club, although good runners and swimmers will have an edge in competition. You must be willing to work, and your friends and family must be willing to work. Pentathlon is a family affair. We need support in many ways from sponsorship to helping set up a clinic to volunteering at competitions. Whatever your skills are, we can use them.
We generally hold a couple of clinics and competitions each year in partnership with Modern Pentathlon Riding Coach Michael Cintas at his wonderful facility, Equestrian Centers International (ECI), in Rancho Mirage. But our members also travel nationally and internationally to train and compete. We ask that traveling pentathletes be at least 12 years old and accompanied by a parent.
When training or competing at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, pentathletes usually stay in the athletes’ dorms and train with Olympic coaches. It is a great opportunity to see firsthand how elite athletes train and live.
Over the past few years, our members have competed not only in the U.S. but in Mexico, Ireland, Egypt, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Argentina, South Africa, and Canada. Our kids have done very well, bringing home bronzes, silvers and golds — and experiences of a lifetime.
While pentathlon is a popular sport in some countries, including Canada and Great Britain, few Americans heard of it and even fewer compete in it. While we are trying to spread the word and build the sport in the United States, its small size is an advantage for kids who are competing now. Think how long it would take you to train and compete in soccer before you worked your way up past the thousands of soccer players to compete at a national level.
While you may have the opportunity to compete nationally and internationally, don’t expect the Olympics to figure in your schedule any time soon. Since you must master five disciplines, training for Olympic-level competition takes at least 10 years to develop those skill sets. But the good news is that you can compete in pentathlon until you’re in your 30s or 40s. We have masters who compete in their 50s and 60s.
Training is difficult, especially with school. Most West Coast pentathletes are on cross country and track teams at school and on swim teams during the summer.
Please click on the link for each discipline (shooting, swimming, etc.) for more information on training regimens, equipment, clothing, tips, coaches, etc.
Remember that proper nutrition, rest and sleep are part of your training. Take at least one day off from vigorous training each week to allow your body to recuperate. Be sure to get enough protein, carbs and fat in your diet to provide the energy your body needs.
Equipment and Expenses
Training for pentathlon is very expensive, especially as you improve and refine your skills. You will need an air pistol as well as special equipment and clothing for fencing and riding. Talk to Pat or Mike before you invest in an air pistol. They may be able to help you.
Don’t buy the cheapest equipment, especially for fencing. You cannot compete at UIPM sanctioned events (those that count) without FIE equipement. So it’s a waste of time and money to buy the cheaper blades. You will also need a pentathlon bag to put all your assorted equipment in. Get the large, rolling bag with lots of pockets. There’s more about equipment in the Handbook section.
Another large expense is traveling to competitions, camps and clinics. You’ll have airfare, car rentals, hotel bills, as well as the cost of the event itself. We try to find the best deals possible on airfare and hotels. And sometimes you can carpool at the events. But these events are the payoff for all your training and they are invaluable learning experiences. Don’t feel like you need to wait till you’re “good” before you compete. Competing helps make you better.
Call Pat Duffy
Interested? We hope so! For more information about West Coast Pentathlon, please call Pat Duffy at 415-892-4242 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.