BY MELISSA ROLLINS (Morning News)
There was not a cloud in sight when the Florence’s Biggest Loser contestants met Saturday afternoon at Freedom Florence. That didn’t stop more than a few of them from getting wet. The contestants took to the water for their second challenge of the contest: the kayak attack.
The losers were paired off into six heats, with between four and eight racers in each heat. Their challenge was to travel from one set of buoys to another set at the end of the Freedom Florence pond. Once they hit the second set, they had to turn around and paddle back to their starting point.
Kayaking requires balance to get in the boat and to keep yourself upright once you have gotten in. Contestant Jessica Cauthen fell in the water but was not going to let the boat, or anyone else, stop her.
“I am very competitive. I saw someone coming up beside me and I was thinking ‘No, I can’t let them win’ and then flop, I fell in,” Cauthen said. “This is the first time I’ve ever kayaked. The guy (from Naturally Outdoors) said that he couldn’t get me back into the boat but I swam to the side of the pond and I got back in and finished.” Naturally Outdoors brought the kayaks and provided people to help anyone who fell in the water.
Josephine Jupiter said early on in the competition that she was looking forward to everything she would be doing during the 10-week contest. On Saturday, she said, she woke up praying for rain but was happy that she took her turn in the kayak races.
“I’m glad that they put me in the first heat,” Jupiter said. “If I had had to watch other people I might not have done it, but it was a lot of fun. I did it; I went out there and tried something new.”
Almost 50 contestants took part in the races, including some who initially said they weren’t interested in trying it.
A secondary part of the event was supposed to involve burpees, push-ups and lunges. Whatever place the racer from each team came in, the racer’s teammates had to do that many of a specified exercise times three (third place = 9 lunges).
The contestants got so caught up in cheering for their teammates that this part got put on the back burner. Stephanie Navarro, community resource manager for United Way of Florence County, said she was happy the contestants were enjoying themselves, supporting their teammates and trying something new, so she let it slide.
Contestants’ friends and family brought chairs and blankets and set up a cheering section on the bank of the pond. At the end of the races whoever took a lap around the pond, contestant and spectator alike, was given a free yoga mat from United Way.