The World’s Most Intellectually Daunting Biathlon


From 1996 to 2007, IBECC included an optional academic/athletic biathlon connected with the LMU 5K/10K Run for the Bay. The point of the run was to do some tangible good for other people (we donated the proceeds of the race to a local charity), to help students learn about the connection between mind and body, and to honor LMU’s commitment to the “education of the whole person.” Winners of the biathlon were determined by combining the presentation score with the team’s performance in the run. This has always been the most unpredictable part of IBECC because, based on their performance on the presentation, even teams of walkers can do well in the biathlon.

Once the competition migrated to different locations, the biathlon became impractical. However, holding IBECC in Cambridge in 2016 gave us an opportunity to bring back a version of this event. Our Santa Monica location in 2017 is even better. Click here for an overview of the course.

As a matter of principle, IBECC’s Founder and Director (Professor Thomas White) never asks students to do something he’s not willing to do himself. When we brought the biathlon back last year, he ran the Boston Marathon two days before IBECC as a way of raising contributions for our charity. This year, he has pledged to run at least 100 miles during March and the first half of April and solicit funds from his friends and family. However, he will be doing the bulk of his running in the cold winds of western Massachusetts, where he now lives. You, on the other hand, will run or walk by the beach in one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of southern California. (We’ll post pictures of the route on the website shortly.) “If, at 69, I can do this,” he says in a transparently shameless ploy to guilt you into participating, “surely students in their late teens or early twenties can cover 4 miles and ask friends and family to recognize their efforts by supporting our beneficiary.”

This Year’s Biathlon

This year’s recipient will be The School of Choice in Haiti (L’Ecole de Choix), co-founded by Laura Pincus Hartman, Director of the Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

The School of Choice, which serves children living in extreme poverty in rural Haiti, provides a high-quality education with a focus on institutional transparency and sustainability. It teaches responsible leadership in a tri-lingual environment and provides affordable education so families can also send their daughters (rather than just their sons) to school. Haiti is still rebuilding and struggling with infrastructure challenges after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake 5 years ago, so the school supports their students’ well-being with a meal program, clean water, a health and anti-bullying curriculum, and parent education workshops. We are pleased to raise funds for the School of Choice and invite you to learn more at

Your team may raise money however you choose, but we are asking that donations be made online directly to the School of Choice at their Contributions page. In the notes section of the PayPal payment page, be sure to write 2017 IBECC [Your Team’s Name.]” If the team is not identified, we can’t give credit where it’s due. Please forward the PayPal receipts to so that we can track your team’s donations. We do this to avoid imposing an administrative burden on the School of Choice. Thank you for your understanding. There will be a prize of $250 for the team that raises the most money.

If you have contributors who wish to write checks or donate cash, please designate a contact for your team who will collect those donations and submit them online to the School of Choice at the link above.

Divisions and Awards

Run/jog/walk division. First, at least two members of a team must run or walk a four-mile route that goes along the Santa Monica bike path. This will be conducted as a time trial throughout Thursday, April 20, and Friday morning, April 21. (That is, you’ll be running against the clock.) Once we set the schedule for the presentations, students will sign up for starting times for the time trial. Runners/walkers will be loaned a GPS watch, which will record time and distance. Scores will be based on finishing place in gender. If more than two team members do the time trial, we’ll use the top two scores. These will be combined, and, in order to encourage maximum participation, adjusted according to the percentage of the team that participates. Teams will then be ranked to give us a run/jog/walk team score. The run/jog/walk team score will be combined with the presentation score for a “run/jog/walk biathlon score.” (Click here for a detailed illustration of the scoring. If anyone on the team is physically unable to do this, the team will not be penalized. The 4-mile course is technically wheelchair accessible.)

Tourist division. Teams may also qualify for a “tourist” division of the biathlon by covering at least 8,000 steps between Wednesday evening and Friday noon. (We’ll lend you a pedometer.) This is the equivalent of 4 miles and can be easily accomplished by sightseeing in Santa Monica and Los Angeles. At least two team members must participate. In order to encourage maximum participation, the team score in this division will be determined by a total number of steps of the members of the team who participate multiplied by the percentage of people on the team who participated. Teams will then be ranked to give us a tourist team score. This will be combined with the presentation score for a “tourist biathlon score.”

Biathlon awards. Members of the two teams with the highest “Biathlon run/jog/walk scores,” and the five men and five women with the fastest run/walk times will receive awards. Because the biathlon scoring has so many different factors (the presentation score, the fact that the walk/run score is based on “finishing place in gender,” the percentage of the team that participates), teams of walkers are able to do well in this division.

Members of the top two tourist division teams will receive awards.

Teams that have some members participate in the run/walk and others who tourist will be put in the Tourist Division. Runners/joggers/walkers on mixed teams will be assigned 8,000 steps in the biathlon competition. Any runner will still be eligible for the ‘fastest male/female’ prizes.

Nuts and Bolts

Registration. To register your team for the biathlon, please go to the Biathlon Registration Form.

Scoring. For a detailed explanation of the biathlon scoring, click here.

Training. For training suggestions, click here.