Syracuse Online


Dr. J. on Running

USBA Championship

Area Hosts Summer Biathlon

Published October 1, 2001 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Central New Yorkers have another opportunity to attend a national championship in their backyard, as Pratt's Falls Park in Pompey hosts the 2001 United States Biathlon Association National Championships in the Summer Biathlon next weekend.

A combination of running and rifle marksmanship, the Summer Biathlon was originally developed as an outlet to train winter biathletes whose sport combines skiing with shooting. In its 14th year as a U.S. Championship, and sixth year as a world championship, the Summer Biathlon aims for a future berth in the Summer Olympics. The race distance for a Summer Biathlon ranges from 4 to 10 kilometers.

Distances are typically 4 km for women and 6 km for men. Starting in a mass start or in waves 2 to 3 minutes apart, competitors run a loop of about 1 kilometer toward the shooting range, where each athlete shoots five rounds from a .22-caliber rifle at a metal knock-down target. After a round of shooting, the athletes run another loop, and return to the range to shoot five more targets.

At the shooting range, athletes alternate shooting positions between prone, or lying down, and standing. Eventually, after the specified number of loops, the athletes run for the finish line.

In the early versions of the Summer Biathlon, a time penalty was added to the finishing time for every target miss. Current Summer Biathlon rules require an athlete to run an additional 100-meter penalty loop for each target miss.

Several running Olympians have dabbled in Summer Biathlon, relying on their superior speed to leverage the outcome of the competition. Given the obvious incentive to hit the targets while out-of-breath and the heart pounding at full beat, since missing all 15 shots adds an additional 1,500 meters to the course, few pure runners have had an impact on the sport.

Next weekend's National Championship will feature competition in a broad range of categories. With opening ceremonies set for Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m., the men's elite 6K and women's elite 4K follow at 10:15 and 10:45.

Open competition follows at mid-day, with mixed relay competition in the afternoon. Sunday's activities begin at 9:30 a.m. with the women's match pursuit, followed by the men's and sports pursuits.

Competition is further divided by age, with awards given in junior, senior and masters categories for the elite events, and in 10-year age groups for the open competition. The web site of the Syracuse Biathlon Club - - contains additional information.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at

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