Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon Race


In this update, we find Team NRS paddler Elaine Campbell doing what she does best – tearing it up in her kayak and having a ton of fun.


This past weekend was the first Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon Race in Charlemont, MA. The race started with a 4.5-mile trail run, a 23-mile bike, a 5-mile kayak on the Deerfield River, a hike up a small portion of Berkshire East, and then a ski down a short section. The area had a tough winter – not much snow, plus 80 degree weather for consecutive days two weeks ago. That weather pretty much melted most of the snow, so the last two legs of the race were much shorter than what they were supposed to be.

Getting ready for the big day!

I put together a team of five called Afore Vous (before you). Our team consisted of: Bill Simpson, our runner; Chris Jalbert on the bike; me in the kayak, Nancy Caldwell, the hiker; and Ali O’Rourke, the skier.

The race kicked off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. with 43 overall racers, including teams of five, duos, and soloists (120 competitors all together). It was snowing and around 30 degrees, but temperatures reached 40 with cloudy skies by mid-day. The trail runners started from the Berkshire East ski area and headed out to the trails surrounding the town of Charlemont. The next transition was at Zoar Outdoor where the runner tagged the biker or the soloist just kept on hoofing it to their bike. Simpson tagged Chris, and he ran to his bike, hopped on, and started passing people. At that point we were in 30th place, and Chris was able to move us into 23rd place; his bike time landed him in 17th place. While the bikers were climbing up hills, the kayakers waited patiently for the bikers to arrive while we trash talked each other. I, of course, was distractedly talking to people when Chris almost flew by me without the tag, but I was able to slap him five.

I ran as fast as I could to the river, and Jeff helped me get in my wildwater boat – my leg of the race was on! I paddled my brains out for five miles, and think I passed three or four kayakers. Jeff was following me on the road in the truck yelling at me to paddle faster. I paddled pretty hard, which lead me to the second fastest kayak time in the race out of 43 people. That speedy time moved the team from 23rd to 16th place. Nancy was waiting for me at the side of the river for the next transition. I came barreling into shore, and we tagged. She had to run about a mile up the access road to Berkshire East, then up the steep trail where Ali was waiting for the tag to ski.  Nancy was able to move us into 15th place with the tag and she finished 12th in the hike.

Ali skied down the gates and our team finished in 14th overall. Ali placed 11th in the ski, and as a team we placed 7th among the teams of five. It took us 3 hours, 15 minutes and 11 seconds to complete the course. We did pretty well for our first team event, especially considering we brought on Simpson and Chris at the last minute to race with us. A couple of our friends soloed the event, and I am super proud of them; Joanne Grogan, Mike Porter, Ryan Shackleton, and John McCarthy – they slayed it!

The after-party at Phil and Ali’s was awesome (as usual) with lots of food and drinks! We all got after it that night and felt it the next day.

The event was pretty flawless overall; the only issues which they couldn’t control were that mother nature didn’t drop enough snow this winter and super warm temps changed the snowshoe and ski event. A huge thanks to the organizers and volunteers for putting on such a great event! I’m looking forward to it next year with Team Afore Vous!

The next event on the schedule is coming up in three weeks: another Pentathlon. This one is the Mt. Washington Tuckerman Inferno Race in New Hampshire. We are competing as a team of five women called Team Broads for the Tuckerwoman Inferno! It’s going to be awesome! Team Broads is Kim Seaman, 8.3 mile run; me with the 6.2 mile kayak on the Saco River; Nicole Vassar, 18.2 mile uphill bike; Nancy Caldwell, 3 mile hike with a 2,268 ft climb; and Ali O’Rourke, GS ski down Tuckerman Ravine. It’s a step up from the race this weekend and we are going to bring it!

Here are some more photos from the race. Jeff apologizes for the lack of kayaking photos since he was yelling (he says motivating) at me to paddle faster, which he feels was more important than photos!

Love race days in the snow!

Waiting for the run to bike transition.

At least they got to ski down something!

That’s a fast yellow boat!

Till next time,
Elaine Campbell