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Biathlon kicks off Games

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
June 7, 2003
One of the five events that help kick off the State Games of Mississippi this weekend will be giving a twist to a winter sport, as the Olympic-style competitions begin with biathlon, mule and donkey, sailing, fencing and martial arts.
Competitors will replace their cross-country skis for a pair of running shows at the biathlon event that begins at 8:30 a.m. today, following a mandatory safety clinic at 7:30 a.m., at Camp Binachi.
The event will start with a one-mile cross country run. After the opening leg of the race, competitors will walk to the rifle range at the Boy Scouts' camp to test their targeting skills.
Racers will fire five rounds from a .22-caliber rifle at eight to 10 inch steel plate targets in a standing position from 25 meters away. After the first shot on range, participants will walk back to the race track for another one-mile cross country run.
Runners return to the range for one more shot at the targets, this time laying down in a prone position, before walking back to the track for the last one-mile leg of the race. The winner is based on the best time, and seconds are added to a racer's final mark for targets missed on the rifle range.
Males and females will compete in different divisions of the race, and the heats will be divided up by age group.
The biathlon also has two special divisions, that are also divided by males and females, because of the shooting portion of the race.
Law enforcement and military divisions are added to the sport to help even the playing field between competitors.
The event typically draws around 25 participants, and one of the main concerns is keeping everyone safe at the duel-skilled race.
The rifle range is separated from the cross-country course, and racers, while working against the clock, have to walk between the two parts of the race.
Now the only thing the biathlon needs is for the weather to remain clear so the racers don't get wet.