HANALEI — When Alessia Sanchez looked over the obstacle course at the Ohana Fit Fest, she thought, no problem.
“It looked pretty easy,” she said.
Then, it was her turn to give it a go on a cloudy Saturday afternoon at Pine Trees.
Sanchez started strong. She stepped across the balance beams, over the tire scramble, bounded down the beach, rolled under a bar, and pushed through waves to reach the buoy some 30 yards off shore. It was when she returned to the beach and charged around the cones on the soft sand that she realized, hey, this isn’t easy.
Still, she ran back up the beach, leaped the hurdle, flipped over the tractor tire several times, and rang the bell.
Then, she spent 30 seconds or so just breathing.
“It was really hard,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that hard.”
But she smiled at having completed the course — and she was still standing.
“That I would do this and finish without falling down, that’s pretty good,” Sanchez said.
She was one of about 300 people who came out for the third annual Ohana Fit Fest presented by Wilcox Health supporting the Kauai North Shore Community Foundation and its health and wellness efforts.
Organizer and foundation board member Ken Rosenthal said the turnout was the best yet, and nearly double last year’s.
He was delighted with how the day unfolded. It included a wellness expo, more fitness games like beach flag, Hackido and golf chipping, a silent auction and prizes. Best of all, it drew a whole bunch of upbeat folks.
“It’s great. It’s all about fun and fitness and recreation and helping the North Shore,” he said.
There were two obstacles courses. The A course for those ages 20-39 and teams was slightly longer, with a higher hurdle, narrower balance beam, lower bar to crawl under, a buoy that was farther out and a larger tire. The B course was for keiki, teens and those over 40.
The youngest finisher was 4. The oldest, 84.
The fastest time in the A course went to Lyan Becerra in two minutes and one second.
For the B course, the best time belonged to Mark Whitley in 2:01:58, followed by Colt Whitley in 2:02:45.
Most finishers were in the three- to five-minute range.
Rosenthal said the bulk of the participants were in the team competition — where there were gift certificates at stake — and the keiki division. He was pleased to see so many families.
And just as pleasing, young and old were having fun as they tested their fitness in an event that called for endurance, balance, agility, strength and determination. There was running, jumping and swimming (or at least walking through deep water and waves).
“It was challenging,” said Rosenthal. “Harder than it looks.”
Niall Heelan was grinning when he ran the final yards and hit the bell.
It was, he said, “hard core.”
“It was pretty tough,’ he said. “It didn’t look like too much, but it ended up being tough.”
How did it feel to finish?
“Wooo,” he shouted. “Amazing. A great rush after that.”
Rev Zander of Kauai finished the A course in a shade under three minutes.
“Going out there, you have a lot confidence,” he said.
The balance beam, about four inches wide, proved more difficult than he expected and threw him off a bit, he said.
He reached the water quickly, but since he’s not a good swimmer, that took time and used up more energy.
“When I got to the zigzagging through the cones in the sand, I was tired,” Zander said, smiling.
He missed the hurdle on his first try, so had to go twice.
By then, he was nearly exhausted when he reached the final stage, flipping the tractor tire about five yards one way, and then back.
“By the time you’re on the seventh, eighth flip, you’re about done,” he said.
But in the end, he was beaming and called the fit fest “a great thing to do.”
And while Zander is toned and trim, he said the experience let him know he has work to do.
“I could do more exercise, again, of course,” he said, laughing.
Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.