The World’s Most Intellectually Daunting Biathlon

Background

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.

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’s doing that again. “If, at 70, 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.”

 

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 Charles River running path. This will be conducted as a time trial throughout Thursday, April 19, and Friday morning, April 20. (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 Boston. 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

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

Training. For training suggestions, click here.