Some time has gone by since the EKA Open Pentathlon 2021 in Association with Kettlebell Nation and here are my thoughts on how it went.
I would say the build up was at least 10 weeks here. I’m not entirely sure when we announced it but I was super excited to get the announcement out there. Pentathlon was my introduction to the sport and I did 6 before my first GS comp. Therefore it will always be my kettlebell spiritual home.
This was our third Kettlebell Nation pentathlon event in association with the English Kettlebell Association. Previous competitions had 37 and 42 competitors respectively.
First of all, I was pleasantly surprised when the entries started coming in so soon. This has never happened before. Usually it’s a trickle and then a bit of a deluge in the last week. This I can tell you can cause quite a bit of anxiety. We never had that issue this time. We had to keep increasing the number cap to allow for all the entries. We were very uncertain due to peoples anxieties around Covid. Seems this was misplaced entirely.
I think we ended up with 62 on the day. We were up at 72 with a reserve list for a while but inevitably we had a few that couldn’t make it.
The venue was a massive factor here with our success. What an amazing space. This was 100% down to Bill and his contacts that enabled us to secure it . It’s proportions are perfect. Long but not too wide and as a result there’s no dead space like you might get in a regular size sports hall. Acoustically too it’s very good. This may seem a small point but the noise generated from the music and the crowd can become overbearing in an echoey sports hall. It has so much more character than either a sports hall or school gym. This place has real history and it’s literally written all over its walls. Everyone loved it.
Unfortunately we couldn’t get in the night before as there was another event booked.
However, we did manage to get everything down there by Friday lunch time. This was a very collaborative effort
I already had 10 platforms in my shed. I had these delivered to me some 10 weeks before the competition from Stealth gym in Coalville. These were standard platforms made by me that needed converting to foldable. These were somewhat rudely taking up an awful lot of space in my shed! However, big thanks to Craig for loaning these out to us.
Better to have too many than not enough right? I think we ended up with 120 plus. I have 56 which I had to round up from various locations and we made the rest up with Al’s, Bill’s, Graham’s,and a load more from Stealth and Chris Guyll from Big Kat gym in Harrogate.
Getting all this down to the venue was hard graft. We’re talking heavy items here. Platforms are close to 50 kg each. Bells up to 48 kg!
We all worked incredibly hard on that Friday.
We also invested heavily. We had a new medal cast made as we wanted a kettlebell Pentathlon specific medal and we purchased 80 new mats to run along the front and in-between the platforms.
Chris Guyll’s AWESOME MEDALS company dealt with the new medal and he did a bang up job as always. For the first time we also hired a Videographer to help capture the day and produce promotional videos, which we will release soon. The level of entries allowed us to do this. Profit is pretty much null and void with this one. It’s always about the Athletes and making sure they have the best time possible and the best facilities.
This was a National competition but we wanted to have an International vibe to it. This was helped no end by athletes entering from Scotland, Ireland, Norway, USA and Australia (via Switzerland) We were privileged to have Andreas Jakobsen over from Norway and this was a highlight for us all. I even had the honour of having him round at mine and doing a few reps in my gazebo. What a gentleman , what a legend😊👍
Thankfully these were handled by Graham as they are my idea of a nightmare. Assigning flights and judges and making sure everyone’s happy is a monumental task. Well, it would be in my world! Thankfully despite many revisions, these were all sorted in a very timely fashion. We actually had the first draft up some weeks before the event. This rarely happens.
ON THE DAY
We all rocked up at 6:30 AM to set up. Platforms were put into positions. Mats were laid out and joined up. These are lightweight mats. Easy to store and manoeuvre but thick enough to protect the flooring and they added a pleasing aesthetic to the lay out. Bill focussed on setting up the music and PA systems. We are lucky in that Bill was a bit of a Music DJ in his younger days so he has an array of speakers to cater for any size event. It sounded great and brought a smile to our faces when we heard ‘Ernie, The fastest Milkman in the west’ play out on a sound check😊
Graham was the laptop guy so he was setting up things in that area. We also had Ludmilla on the certificates. This proved to be a massive help to Graham and it’s a bonus that she has nice handwriting.
Al is very much the organiser and made sure everything ran like clockwork. And let’s be honest, people like me need organising😊
Then there’s the counters. We had 8 x Vulture Wood counters made by Erik Hoffman-Bang from Denmark. These are fantastic little wooden boxes that are so cool and dependable. Again, these are gathered from various places. I have 2, Al has 1, Graham has 1, we borrowed 2 from Craig Smith at Stealth and finally, Andreas brought 2 over from Norway which was hugely appreciated.
Setting these up was easy enough but they still give me a little bit of anxiety. First attempt at synching them up only fired off 4 of them. And then 6. But I soon remembered the correct protocol for successfully firing them all off together and then on the day, they performed faultlessly. They even have a pentathlon setting on them which is unique I believe for any timer on the market. They were truly fabulous.
First arrival was Andrew Johnson. He was super early and offered to help set things up. Smashing! But at the same time, as soon as people start to walk through the door, it suddenly becomes very much more real and for me at least, my anxiety goes up quite a few notches.
We were all set up and done by 8:30 which was exactly the time we set for ourselves. That’s 2 hours from start to finish. Pretty good considering we were starting from scratch.
Bill then fired up the PA and welcomed everyone and went through the various housekeeping requirements as well as providing additional information for the athletes.
And we,re off and running
Full flight of 8 lifters. Music is cranked up, Athletes are ready and timers are primed. I hit the start button (hold my breath temporarily) and we’re off. Once things start, I immediately feel more relaxed. A well organised competition runs like clockwork once you get things underway. We all have our assigned tasks and have faith in each other to do them efficiently. The atmosphere steadily builds as the set progresses. I take to my trusted Nikon Z6 and start taking the photos. This is something I first took too in Milan at the IKMF World Championships in 2017. It’s a way for me to take my mind off the prospect of lifting. I also find it tremendously enjoyable. I’ve always enjoyed photography and have a lot of admiration for kettlebell athletes so to photograph them always feels like an honour to me.
The first flight finishes with a flurry of applause from the watching crowd. This I have missed. The camaraderie and support. No egos here whatsoever. Just a nurturing and supportive atmosphere, which makes all the newcomers very relaxed. We did in fact have many first time Athletes at this competition, which is always encouraging as it shows our sport is growing.
We also had some massive support from several teams. 3 of note are Hazelwood Kettlebells from Scotland. Linda Duguid has supported all of our pentathlons and never fails to bring down a strong team. Oli Mell from Wolfpack fitness. Oli brought a lot of members down. It’s a young club with a big future. And finally Fionnbharr Toolan’s club, Virtu from Ireland. 5 Athletes, all of a very high calibre, one of which, Kevin Duong had flown in all the way from Boston, USA!
This was a big one with several 2000 points plus lifters going head to head. We had Gareth Molloy, Andreas Jakobsen, Tim Joseph (current UK record holder) David Laud, Kevin Duong, Konrad Zmyslowski and David Gruhl. And it did not disappoint. 3 lifters here hit 2000 plus points. Andreas, Tim and David. We had bells of 40,44 and 48 kg being lifted here in the cleans. This is an incomprehensible weight to most people. The 48 in particular takes a lot of skill to use efficiently and can kill the remainder of a set if you don’t move it well. It was an exhilarating set to watch and very inspirational.
Notable male performances were (1500 points plus)
Andreas Jakobsen 2229
Tim Joseph 2058
David Laud 2023
Fionnbharr Toolan 2013
Gareth Molloy 1938
Konrad Zmyslowski 1863
Alan Lyon 1824.5
David Gruhl 1810.5
Oli Mell 1773
Kevin Duong 1736.5
Allan Holburn 1735.75
Simon Tarrant 1663
Stu Tracey 1608.5
Kieran O’Sullivan 1569.5
David Murray 1567.5
Ben Morris 1537
That’s an incredible list. At my first event back in 2013, I scored 1537 and was the only person to score over 1500 until the likes of Alan Lyon came along to steal my thunder so to see so many at 1500 plus goes to show how much progress has been made in the pentathlon.
As with most kettlebell competitions, we had a fairly even mix of men and women. We had fantastic performances here too. Newcomer and first time kettlebell competitor Kate Williams put in a very robust and mature performance and scored a fantastic 1176. In fact we had 9 females score over 1000 points. Incredible. I can remember the first time a female hit 1000 plus points and that was Yvonne Martin if memory serves me well and was way back in 2013/2014. On this occasion, Yvonne had the highest female score of the day with 1340 points.
Notable female performances were (1000 points plus)
Yvonne Martin 1340
Caroline Dougal 1279
Maria Moran 1230.75
Emma Francis 1183.5
Kate Williams 1176
Lee Reynolds 1108.75
Carol Forbes 1014
Anita Keogh 1014
1000 plus points is a great benchmark and to see so many females surpass this is inspiring
All of these performances, men and women, are international standard and set very high benchmarks indeed.
We would like to give thanks to our sponsors.
To Jess Dibiase at http://Kettleguard.com for the supply of Kettleguards to all our first place winners. Jess has sponsored all 3 of our Pentathlons to date.
To Jason McCarthy at http://Wolversonfitness.com A long term collaborator with the EKA and always in our corner
To Emerson Patton of Brightbusinessadvice.com for his generosity in paying for the venue
To STEALTH for the loan of the 8 platforms and kettlebells.
To Chris Guyll of BIG KAT GYM for the loan of kettlebells
And to our PLATFORM SPONSORS
KETTLEBELL SPORT HANGOUT
NIZ FIT PT
Some personal thoughts.
I know I speak collectively here on behalf of myself, Al,Bill and Graham but I would like to finish off by saying that the greatest honour to me is to have athletes come up to me on the day to thank us for putting on the event. They praise the organising of it, the venue, the vibe, the set up. Post competition feedback has been phenomenal too and it just keeps on coming. Well, I’d like to extend that thanks back to you guys for turning up, giving your all, embracing a live competition again and for just being such an awesome bunch of people. I sincerely hope we did you proud and would love to see you all at our future events.