French student sets sights on carbon pentathlon

News News & events

30 May 2013

His upbringing was immersed in practical sustainability solutions so it’s no surprise that CPIT student Thomas Grandguillot is now passionately pursuing his own environmentally-focused project.

Thomas’ first Pempta Glaz pentathlon, planned for June 2014, brings environmental and social sustainability concepts into the realm of competitive outdoor sports. The goal is for the event, within a few years, to be carbon neutral. Think electric cars, sharing local resources, awareness.

With a strong emphasis on local voluntary involvement, it made sense for the pilot event to be held in Thomas’ native Nantes in Brittany, France. The name Pempta Glaz comes from Breton dialect words for ‘five’ and for the blues and greens of the Brittany landscape. Thomas’ father, who was a wind turbine specialist and is now retired, continues to promote the concept at home.

Meanwhile while studying English at CPIT Thomas is constantly looking for opportunities to generate interest in Pempta Glaz. He’s spoken to the Coast to Coast creator Robyn Judkins for advice and invited multisport athlete Steve Gurney to compete – Gurney is keen if he secures sponsorship.

Thomas came to New Zealand to travel, explore the outdoors and talk about Pempta Glaz, but he then decided to study the Certificate in English as an Additional Language (Cambridge Exam Preparation) at CPIT. “If you want to work in an international job it is important to speak English, so I was able to mix all my projects by coming to CPIT,” he said. He mixed studying with a seven week stint of surf lifesaving, but is still pleased with his progress, to the point where he is considering doing his Masters qualification in English to build on his Bachelor of Physics.


There are just a few Europeans studying English language at CPIT and for Thomas it’s been a unique opportunity to get to know people from other parts of the world, plus his new Chinese and Japanese friends are helping to spread the word about Pempta Graz in their countries.

Eventually Thomas will run Pempta Glaz in other countries, but for now Brittany will host the pilot events. Sports-wise, the area is famous for sailing. Sailing will make up 50km of the course accompanied by swimming (15km), cycling (240km), running (60km) and rowing (20 – 25km).

Thomas admits it’s a big event. “I have done three trials and the event took 33 hours, so it’s a two day event. However you can do it as an individual or a team. As a team one person could do one sport or everyone can do a little bit of each sport.”

Fees will be kept low. The focus is on participation, not winning, and on experiencing the local region.

“This will also be a way for people to discover another country. It’s a way is to discover the land, not just the land itself but the culture, to meet the local people and understand the story of the region.”