After seeing The Bourne Legacy we were contemplating what should go into a Post Modern Pentathlon inspired by what a 21st Century spy might have to do when on the run in a hostile world. While Bourne was the original starting point Mission Impossible, Bond and any number of other action orientated spy films and thrillers provide ample inspiration. Much that I love it there won’t be a lot of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy influencing this list.
The Ancient Olympic pentathlon featured the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, the stadion foot race and wrestling. Coubertin created the Modern Pentathlon to simulate the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines: he must ride an unfamiliar horse, fight with pistol and sword, swim, and run.
The most appropriate replacement for Riding an unfamiliar horse would seem to be driving an unfamiliar vehicle with no time to prepare – anything from a badly maintained mini to a motorbike – through a crowded course. For added excitement how about borrowing something from the elimination races in bicycle racing with the last racer eliminated at various intervals.
Again the Sword is a little archaic so we’ll draw on the films for inspiration. Now the two combatants could be assigned randomly drawn weapons or perhaps be permitted to select them based on their ranking from earlier events. Extra points should be available for the successful use of office equipment and stationary while actual weapons would be at best rare.
Running is clearly still a very useful skill for the modern spy. However the again the course should be made a little more interesting. Such variations as the rooftop run, the wilderness endurance race and the stealth challenge where they must avoid detection by hostiles and security cameras would bring this event up to date. For added challenge the shooting could be combined with the running except to maintain the Bourne inspiration the weapons available would be varied from pistols to high precision sniper rifles to a rather old shotgun.
Swimming would be an essential event – the complication this time could come in a variety of forms – each competitor might be penalised at the start to represent swimming with wounds, the race might be held in sub zero conditions or they might have to first dive from the top of a 12 story building into a river immediately after the previous event.
So my Bourne inspired Post Modern Pentathlon would include Driving, Fighting, Running, Shooting and Swimming but in a very different way from the original Greek or Modern Pentathlon.