Obstacle Run: Toughest Discipline of the Military Games?



WUHAN (CHN) - Consider this … You travelled halfway the globe arriving in a city where Summer seems to continue forever while in your homeland winter is already kicking in … Furthermore, you’re competing against the best in the world in your sport under a leaden sun in one of the toughest military sports disciplines … Gruesome … Welcome on the course for the Obstacle Run of the Military Pentathlon.

The heath didn’t bother Swedish runner Siri Englund too much. “Actually, I like it that way,” she told CISM Media after her run. Not exactly what you would expect from someone of a Northern country. “You could compare the weather here with a hot Summer in Sweden,” she laughs. “For me, I like it better to be warm than rather cold temperatures.” Practicing Military Pentathlon gives Siri a specific purpose. “It makes me a better soldier. All these disciplines make you strong and fit for the military. Combining the different sports like running, swimming, throwing, shooting and the obstacle run, makes it the military sports discipline by excellence!”




“When I had my basic army training in Denmark, I was lucky someone at my base introduced me to Military Pentathlon. And it kind of stuck … I think it’s fun to do,” says Helene Hupfeldt Nielsen from Denmark. “Next to the obstacle run, there are also the other sports. It’s very diverse and that’ also one of the reasons I like it so much."

Diverse indeed, but how does an athlete prepare for such an array of different disciplines? “Not easy,” Helene admits. “To be honest, I’m not prepared equally in all the disciplines. However, I try my best to get around to all five. If you focus on strength, then you prepare for the obstacle run, swimming and running. The slower disciplines, like throwing and shooting, require a more mental preparation. Agility is important also. Interval training as well, but also technique and strength training, a whole lot,” she smiles. “When I train the obstacle course, I practice it in separate parts, focusing on different obstacles per session.” The obstacles are also different. “Some are more a mental challenge than others,” Helene opinions. “For instance, the stones to walk on. That’s difficult in one way. Others, like the over-and-under obstacle are more technical.”



“I’m satisfied with my performance here today,” says Javier Stalyn Garcia Omero, from the Spanish military forces. “The track here in Wuhan is in perfect condition and that helped my performance. Physically, the obstacle run is the most demanding discipline of all five in the Military Pentathlon. Mentally also, I think. It can make your head spin. Luckily, we came a few days ahead to get accustomed to the time difference.” However, the heat didn’t bother the Spanish sergeant. “The region I’m from is Extremadura, the temperatures are similar, so that wasn’t really a problem. Tomorrow, we have the swimming discipline in a 50m pool. That might be a challenge as in Spain we train in a 25m one. We’ll see how that works out,” Javier ends.



Henri Taipale from Finland had a tougher time adapting to the high temperatures and the hot sunrays on the track. “The place where I live in Finland has six months of winter. It was already zero degrees when I left for Wuhan,” he tells CISM Media, still panting after his run. “It’s difficult also to prepare properly outside on the obstacle run when there is a lot of snow. It’s easier for the other disciplines like swimming, throwing and shooting. You can practice them indoors. I mostly train by running to enhance my stamina. It’s my weakest point. I played baseball for twenty years, so I can throw, and I’ve been swimming for ten years, those are the easiest sports for me. The obstacle run on the contrary is the hardest. The last time I did one was in Austria. I run four to five times a week, it’s the basis of all my preparations,” the Lieutenant says.



Frenchman Gaitan Marin is a bit disappointed with his run. “It was tough on my legs. I preferred to be prudent not to miss any obstacles, this has cost me some valuable seconds. Military Pentathlon is a tough sport. Nevertheless, I like it because for me it’s a very complete sport. It includes everything. You need to be concentrated with shooting, have strength and stamina in the obstacle run, you need perseverance for the cross country run as it is quite a distance and then there is also the swimming. So, you have to be polyvalent. It’s definitely the ultimate sport for a soldier.”


(Source: CISM Media and Communication Department – Journalist:  Christian Pierre - Pictures: Christian Pierre & Davis Harrigan)