The Sun Life Pentathlon des Neiges is a right of passage in Quebec City. It’s a landmark winter event that has grown in popularity and size to become the largest winter outdoor sports event in the country. And, it’s about time more people outside the city not only realize just how great it is but also head to the provincial capital to take it all in.
From February 18 to 26, thousands of enthusiasts will come to enjoy the fresh air and fun with friends in front of the Musée des Beaux-arts de Québec and in the surrounding hills for the 19th edition. This event is all about making the most of winter and embracing the cold like true Canadians.
“If there’s a reason to be on Quebec City’s iconic Plains of Abraham in February, it’s mainly for the rousing atmosphere of the Sun Life Pentathlon des Neiges,” says Gilles Morneau, a spokesperson for the event. “It’s clear that participants are there primarily to have fun. They dress up, cheer loudly, and party. While some choose the solo challenges (cycling, running, cross-country skiing, skating and snowshoeing, in that order), many join a team and practise their favourite sport before handing the baton to a teammate.”
There’s something for everyone at the event, thanks to the lavish program spread out over two weekends. It is like a multisport dream with 20 scheduled competitions and up to five individual winter sports in which to participate solo or with a team. Whether you are a serious athlete, weekend warrior, or novice there is plenty from which to choose to fill up on winter sporting good times. There is a duathlon, triathlon, a long-distance pentathlon and the 75-km Iceman challenge that attracts serious athletes and even former Olympians.
Skier Alex Harvey is a long-time regular, which convinced him to become the event's spokesperson, as is Quebec City mayor Bruno Marchand, who participates in the cycling, running and skating events. Spectators come in droves to applaud these intrepid competitors and the venue provides a warm welcome with games for youngsters, sports equipment trials, and even a food service.
This year, a new event has been added to the festivities. The WKND Night Run on Snow will be held on Feb. 23 with a one, five and 10-kilometre course option under the starry skies of Quebec City. Registration in the event includes refreshments and supervision, a souvenir toque, medals for the first three in each category and participation medals for participants in the 1 km.
The event has had Albertan Doug MacIsaac travelling across the country to Quebec to participate on multiple occasions.
“The Sun Life Pentathlon des Neiges offers an experience that is unique, rewarding, and exciting!” MacIsaac says.
In 2020, more than 6,100 people participated in the event, and this year is shaping up to be even better. For more information on the Sun Life Pentathlon des Neiges, and to find your challenge, head over to the official website here.