Laser Run, which consists running and shooting a laser gun at a target, is Pentathlon GB’s newest event and is quickly becoming a popular sport in its own right.

The event provides an opportunity for young athletes to work on their fitness while also developing other vital skills such as focus, control and stamina. It is a fantastic pathway into the Modern Pentathlon, which includes swimming, fencing, riding, running and shooting.

Modern pentathlete Samantha Murray threw the sport into the spotlight after the London 2012 Olympics, when she climbed her way from fourth place to second, taking home the silver after a fantastic running and shooting performance.

Murray holds the 2014 individual World Champion title as well as World Championship team golds from 2012 and 2013, and we sat down with her for a quick chat about her journey into Modern Pentathlon.

How did you get into Modern Pentathlon?

I was a member of my local swimming club (Clitheroe Dolphins) and was asked to try a biathlon with Clitheroe Modern Pentathlon club. It really interested me as I enjoyed running at school and was already training at a local athletics club.

Once I learnt about the pentathlon and the five disciplines, I was so eager to have a go at the shooting and fencing events. I could already ride horses, as my grandma was a riding instructor and had a small farm with stables.

What’s your favourite discipline and why?

I appreciate all five sports and have enjoyed learning the skills and developing myself for each event. It is hard to call a favourite to be honest.

The variety and balance in my training program allows me to enjoy each sport without becoming too bored or fed up of repetition.

I suppose, if I wasn’t training for pentathlon, I would still be running and hopefully riding.

Have you ever done a Laser Run?

No, I haven’t competed in a dedicated Laser Run event. My schedule across the season is so busy that I just don’t have time or free weekends to take part unfortunately.

The final event of the pentathlon is however a Laser Run!

It is an exciting race that requires pacing and poise in order to shoot with precision and still run at a competitive pace.

When did you realise you could make it as a Modern Pentathlete?

At 14, I was competing for Great Britain as a youth athlete and so had exposure to other athletes of my age from around the world. My running and swimming times were very competitive and, unlike many of my peers, I had spent my childhood riding ponies.

I really enjoyed fencing and had an excellent first coach who taught me the important basics of how to fence well. The shooting was also something I picked up quickly and had great coaching at the local pentathlon club.

I mastered the events and, most importantly, loved practicing and competing. I won a few youth competitions and was also swimming for my club and running for my club and county on the track and cross country.

 I would compete in each event individually and was competitive, so it meant that at an actual pentathlon, I was strong and developed both athleticism and skill from a young age. In addition to this, my goal and dream was to become a world class modern pentathlete and to win an Olympic medal.

I had the hunger and determination that is essential to ‘make it’ in any sport.

Can you describe London 2012 for us?

London was the pinnacle of my sporting career at that time. I had dreamt of competing at the home Olympics since 2006 when we won the bid. I was at a competition in Portugal and remember being told by our team manager that we had won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

I had this burning feeling of excitement and desire to be there as an athlete. As an adult competing at the Olympics, it was extremely stressful and hard work!

It was my one shot opportunity to win in front of a home crowd. Also for the sport, we needed to bring home a medal to secure funding for the next Olympic cycle. Throw in the unknown horse and those Olympic nerves, and the day became the biggest challenge I had ever and could ever imagine facing in my life.

My hard work and focus did pay off, and I found myself running for a medal in front of an ecstatic home crowd. It was an unforgettable day.

Have you got any top training tips?

Make sure you have the aerobic base to run 3.2km and stop, hold your breath to shoot. This only comes through mileage and a consistent running training program.

Next, for the shoot, using queue words as you shoot can help to hold a steady rhythm with the pistol.  So, in your head, you can use 1- 2 - 3 for each stage of each shot: the load, the raise and then the trigger squeeze on the target.

Others might prefer words such as: load, sights and shoot. The queue words can help to keep your breathing in check and also keep your focus together as you shoot in a race.

My final tip is to enjoy it and smile. Sport is fun after all and pentathlon is the most fun sport you can find (no bias of course!).

What about any advice for people competing for the first time?

My advice is to cover the basics well. Prepare for the event; make sure you have the right equipment and running shoes appropriate for the surface.

Try to learn how to adjust the sights on the laser pistol that you will borrow on the day in advance of the competition.

Remember nutrition is key for any sporting event. You should plan ahead to stay hydrated and eat in good time before the race starts. I like to have an energy gel 30 minutes before I race.

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