Earlier this year I received an email from the casting producer of American Ninja Warrior. I was awe stricken, realizing I was of legal age to finally compete in this show. Ive always wanted to send in a submission video, but was sadly distraught when I saw the age requirement was 21. After talking to the casting producer for a few phone calls and a webcam interview I was casted on the show! Every athlete on this show has a “story”. My athlete profile is that I am a recent graduate in Neuroscience, who is a professional vlogger on youtube, that rock climbs. I know, a handful.
I arrived to Venice Beach a day before my run to film my competitor profile. As I walked up my adrenaline shot up as soon as I saw the obstacle set with my own eyes. This thing was huge! It seems high (and is high) because they lift all the segments up on a platform, but also have a water landing for each course.
I never realized how extremely lucky I was to have a scheduled check-in time, because I saw people lined up against the fence who waited days in advance to maybe have a shot on running the course. More than before, I felt extremely fortuante to have a chance to run this course. After talking to a few of the competitors, I see the level of dedication is insane. Most of these men and women train their whole lives to compete in this show, and build obstacle courses in their own backyard. When the ultimate prize is $500,000 I can see why people dedicate their lives to this show.
I will have to admit, I didnt have much time dedicated to training to ANW. Well, I climb six days a week all year round (indoor and outdoor). This helped me with body balance technique, and upper body/core strength. All of these aspects are very important to run through the course… but I have absolutely NO free-running experience. So for the weeks coming up to my run, I had to had a crash course training in free running. Here in Riverside we dont have any local free-running gyms, so I had to just train in an urban environment.
Four weeks later… it was time to run the course in Venice Beach. So this is how it all runs down. The athletes check-in, once we are in we cannot leave the fenced in competitors area. It’s not like we are all blindfolded before we run the course. They actually show us how to run the course! Even though athletes basically have to on-sight the course, we do get the beta. As we gather in groups, one of the producers yells at us the legal rules of the game. After each level, there is a professional stunt guy who flawlessly shows us how to successfully run through each course.
My check-in time was 6pm. Ive never felt a constant stream of adrenaline in my body for a long period of time. I knew I should sleep at some point, but that didnt happen even if I tried.
Hours passed, as I watched athlete by athlete run the course. I started to get worried after I saw numerous people fall in the first course = The Quintuplet Steps. Some freerunners even fell in the steps. I originally planned to just blast through the steps, using both feet per step. After watching everyone’s strategy, I decided to just frogger hop each step. This was the only way to guarantee my way past this first course. It looks easy, but those steps are steep and WET! The main factor is that water would splash onto the steps and make reduce the friction to almost nothing.
Here is where I failed. It was this arch where you had to stem inside the structure. The rules were you could not grab the outside, and you cannot place your foot on top of the black foot area. After reviewing pictures and video, I knew where I failed. My Errors: I placed my feet too low, and my hand position too low. I had an issue getting high up into the structure, because it was built for taller people. When I initatiated the movement, I had to jump into it… when my body caught I slipped a little lower. I held on for the first half, but the drop-down rail popped me out of my bad position. I need to practice by doing more off-width routes!! To answer some questions: No my face slamming against that wall didnt hurt that bad, and the water wasnt too cold.
All in all, this was one of the most amazing experiences ive had in my life. I still cant believe I had this opportunity. I want to start training once summer is over, so I can participate in it again next year! Shout-out and thanks to my friends for staying and supporting me untill 4 A.M. Thanks Tony, Jackie, Marci, and Sarah! You guys are awesome.
Here is my vlog commentary, with included episode segment in the video! Enjoy!
*Youtube unfortunately took down my video on due to copyright, but I still have it on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152976613830554&l=2084956532294891243