CHARLEMONT — The Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon returned on Saturday after a two-year hiatus due to COVID and the team of Roger Stendlund, Peter Vincent, Susan Wallen, Craig Barringer and Herman Ogulnick were there and ready to defend their title.
Each member of the team is over 70 and in their eight competitive races they have yet to lose in their age group.
That didn’t change at Berkshire East on Saturday, as the group again took first place in the over-70 age group.
“It was hard not having that for the last two years,” Barringer said. “We missed it. We still trained, there just wasn’t a lot of competition to do. We had to come back and defend our title.
The Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon consists of five stages: a 4.5-mile run, an 18-mile bike ride, a two-mile paddle, a two-mile adventure run and a downhill ski run. Competitors have the option to split each stage and compete as a team, or do so as Braveheart – the category reserved for people completing all five stages themselves.
Although it is a tough course, the group has a motto they stick to that motivates them to keep competing.
“Our motto is that you don’t stop because you can’t. You can’t because you stop,” Barringer said. “So we’re not stopping. We continue to do so. This is the motto of the team. We judge our performance on a standard of good enough. If it’s good enough for us, it’s good enough.
Stendlund – who is 74 – opened the race by doing the 4.5 mile trail. Once the South Amherst resident was done, Vincent took over and did the 18-mile bike ride.
The 78-year-old Hadley resident spent time training at high altitudes in Colorado during the winter, which made Saturday’s hike effortless.
“It was a challenge to go upwind for the first half of the course,” Vincent said. “Coming back, we took the plane.”
Wallen was next on the two-mile paddle, using her own gear to make the job easier.
The Jersey City resident likes to come and compete with the team.
“I love this band,” Wallen said. “We are undefeated. It was a nice day. Kayaking has been harder some years, but I brought my own kayak this year so it was easier.
Barringer – the 72-year-old Leverett team captain – managed the two-mile adventure race before Ogulnick finished the race by doing the skiing portion, which involved climbing halfway up the mountain. mountain and ski down.
For Ogulnick, a 72-year-old Pittsfield resident, the conditions were perfect for the race.
“It was a great day to ski,” said Ogulnick. “We just had the right conditions. In previous years it was sticky and you really had to work on it, but that wasn’t the case this year.
Expect to see this group on the run next year to continue their unbeaten streak.
Shelburne Falls’ Kristian Whitsett ran the race as Braveheart and finished with the fastest individual time of two hours and 11 minutes.
The time was only two minutes slower than the team’s fastest time in the race.
“I was so thrilled with the number of people who showed up this year,” Whitsett said. “They had a perfect day for it. The mix of families doing it, kids doing it, old people doing it, it’s so cool. It’s such a great community event and such a positive environment.
In a race that involves five different stages, Whitsett felt he had an advantage where he is good but not great at one event, but not bad either. This allows him to keep a steady pace throughout.
“When you’re out there, you never know when your body might leave you,” Whitsett said. “It’s such a fun race. The dynamic changes all the time. I was third after the run, everything changed on the bike, I swapped places on the kayak. It’s always changing.
One of his favorite elements of the race is having the teams race at the same time at the Bravehearts. This makes for an interesting element because you don’t know who’s next for a certain team that might be able to catch up.
“Having Braveheart race against teams is awesome”, “It mixes everything up, you don’t know if the person you passed is on a team or is another Braveheart. It’s such a great environment.