WALLINGFORD — The Gaylord Gauntlet will bring together 1,000 able-bodied and adaptive athletes as they compete in a 5K obstacle and trail course Saturday.
The race, held at the Gaylord Hospital campus on Gaylord Farms Road, promotes healthy living by testing the endurance of participants with over 20 obstacles.
“This is a 5K obstacle mud run and it not only promotes exercise, fitness, health, and wellness, but it’s a great challenge and a lot of fun,” said Katie Joly, program manager of the Gaylord Sports Association.
The Gaylord Gauntlet reached its registration limit about a week ago. The maximum was set at 1,000 participants, which is the most ever, according to Joy Savulak of Gaylord.
All proceeds go to the Gaylord Sports Association, which is “dedicated to improving the quality of life and spirit, mind and body of persons with physical disabilities,” according to its website. It does this largely through wheelchair sports and adaptive recreational opportunities, such as the 5k.
The association has its own team that competes in the race every year, alongside the other athletes. Savulak said about a dozen adaptive athletes are competing this year.
Joly said the course isn’t designed for the adaptive athletes, but with a guide or team providing assistance, they finish it just like everyone else.
Jillian Harpin, 25, of Wolcott, is this year’s featured athlete on the Gaylord Sports Association team. Harpin was paralyzed from the chest down in 2016, after falling from a balcony railing on the third floor of a hotel. She has since completed several physical competitions, including the Hartford Half Marathon.
Joly said it’s inspiring to the able-bodied athletes to watch the adaptive ones “taking on the same challenge that they are, knowing that that person has a totally different set of challenges but are overcoming those.” She said the Gaylord Sports Association wants to foster a belief that a disability doesn’t have to hold someone back.
This year’s course has two new surprise obstacles. Obstacles include a rock wall climb, cargo net, water slide, and mud pits.
Race coordinators are still looking for some volunteers to help on race day and anyone is welcome to come and support the athletes. More information and the course map can be found at the Gaylord Gauntlet's website, gaylordgauntlet.everydayhero.do.
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