A backflip looks simple, but brother, it’s not simple.

It takes your whole body to pull off a backflip. You need to jump high enough on launch. You need to swing your arms enough to help propel yourself backward. You need your core muscles to keep you stable throughout the flip and through the landing, where you need the coordination to land back on your feet.

If any of those things goes wrong, you’ll wind up a heap on the floor, hoping you didn’t land head or face first.

Completing a handful of backflips in a row would be a challenge. So how the heck did Patrick Hapworth do 500 backflips in around two and a half hours? An even bigger question is, why did Patrick Hapworth do 500 backflips in two and a half hours?

“It was just a goal,” Hapworth said. “I like to challenge myself.”

Hapworth completed his 500 backflips on Dec. 30 at World Gym in Portland, where he works as a personal trainer. The inspiration came from seeing a few of his friends post New Year’s resolutions and goals on Facebook.

Hapworth’s Facebook post on Dec. 28 was simple. “For every ‘Like’ I get in the next 24 hours, I will do ONE BACKFLIP (sic). I’ll record and post the video,” he wrote.

Hapworth expected to get 100 likes, maybe 110. When he checked back, Hapworth saw his likes climbing and climbing.

“It really escalated pretty quickly,” Hapworth said.

The Internet is a privacy black hole, so Hapworth should not have been surprised when he heard from Kylie Queen of Q 97.9, a Portland radio station. Queen wanted to record Hapworth’s backflip-o-rama for the station’s web page.

“Once 97.9 asked to film it, I couldn’t back out,” Hapworth said.

Hapworth capped it at 500 backflips, although he gained 539 likes.

Hapworth, 23, grew up in Pittsfield. As a senior at Maine Central Institute in 2010, Hapworth won a wrestling state championship at 171-pounds, and was named the Morning Sentinel Wrestler of the Year. For a while, he’s tried to set athletic goals for himself. In 2011, he ran the Maine Marathon. He’s currently training at Maine Warrior Gym in Westbrook to try to earn a spot on American Ninja Warrior.

Hapworth did his backflips in robotic sequence. Aside from a couple longer water breaks, Hapworth did a backflip every 12 to 15 seconds. It wasn’t until he was well past the halfway point that Hapworth’s body started to feel it. The legs got a little weaker, the core muscles a little sorer.

“I was fine until around 350, but I landed every single one of them,” Hapworth said. “I knew I could do it. It’s really a mental thing.”

Hapworth pushed on. The backflips between No. 400 and 480 were the hardest, he said, and took the most strength. The final 100 backflips, Hapworth drew a small crowd of supporters. A friend bought a pizza, so Hapworth would have something to eat as soon as he was done.

“The last 20, I didn’t care how my body felt. I was going to finish,” Hapworth said. “I think people thought I was nuts.”

There are a few videos of Hapworth’s feat floating around the Internet. You can see the footage Queen shot on the Q 97.9 website. The final 10 flips show Hapworth in a detemined state. If he’s exhausted, he’s not showing any signs. With each backflip, he walks to the front of the mat and takes a deep breath. He takes a step back, and launches himself. Voices off camera announce the tally.

On 500, Hapworth takes a step, and falls backward. Now the exhaustion takes over his body. That pizza he was given as a reward? Hapworth said he was able to eat about half a slice. His stomach muscles were too tense.

The fatigue lingered for days.

“It’s been a solid week,” Hapworth said on Thursday night, “and I finally feel normal.”

The next challenge is preparing for his ninja warrior competition, which will be sometime this spring. After that?

“I’ll figure something out,” Hapworth said. “One goal at a time.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

<URL destination=””>[email protected]

</URL>Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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