By Jon Dinan
PARKSVILLE Participants walked, climbed, jumped, crawled, and slid through the Happy Feat 5k Obstacle Course on Sunday around Jon and Justine Sutherland’s property in Parksville.
Runners trekked through a parkour-inspired obstacle course carved out of woods and field. The course, which took over a year to construct, featured strategically placed natural and man-made blockages designed to create challenges for those who dared take them on. Obstacles raised in difficulty level as the course progressed, but were optional for those taking part.
The name Happy Feet derived from an obstacle that forced participants to bind their feet together allowing them only to take tiny steps forcing them to walk like the penguins from Happy Feet, an animated film made in 2006.
Some other obstacles included tires, (borrowed from surrounding gas stations that were destined to be burned), an A- frame, hurdles, a potato sack jump, ten hay bales in a row, a sand bag carry, a waterslide, planks, and balance beams.
Runners were divided into groups of ten to twelve and started at different times so the course wasn’t overly congested.
The 5k itself was not competitive. Packets of seed will be awarded to the athletes in recognition of their participation.
“Our goal was to create a great outdoor event that could be fun but still focus on recycling and giving back to the Earth,” Justine Sutherland said.
“We want to keep mother Earth green and pure for the future.”
When contestants finished they were treated to food from some of the area’s popular eateries including, Panda Ice Cream Parlor, Diehl’s Farm, Rolling River Cafe Gallery & Inn, the Bakehouse at Kauneonga Lake, and Lari’s Food Wagon.
Music was also a highlight of the afternoon but the band, “The New Kings” werecut short due to rain. Shortly after, many were sent home as lighting and thunder began raging overhead.
The 100-acre plot on which the event was held is home to Jon and Justine Sutherland. Also located on the property is Justine’s business, the Just Breathe Yoga studio.
Heading the four-year-old studio is Justine and partner, Andre Turan. They run several different fitness-oriented classes for all ages and experience levels including yoga, pilates/barre fusion, and something they call gentle bootcamp fitness.
“Bootcamps are notorious for injuring people and high intensity, “ said Turan. “Our training is framed around being very aerobic and building muscle without harming people joints.”
The 5k event was an extension of the fitness program. “Both Happy Feat and our program are about overcoming obstacles and building confidence along with strength.” Turan said.
In case of an emergency there was an ambulence on standby but not a single injury was reported.
Just Breathe donated five percent of the Happy Feat proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club of Sullivan County and five percent to the Catskill Mountainkeeper, an organization dedicated to preserving the Catskill region.
They intend to hold another 5k the Happy Feat Harvest Trail and Obstacle Course on Sunday Oct. 14.