My Experience on: American Ninja Warrior 2013

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.

Mr. Buff Ginger, who ran through the course before hand to show us exactly how it should be done.

In the waiting area. Warming up, and psyching up to run the 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:

Murry Christmas Amurica.

Lazy blog post time! Basically i’ll just vomit on this post page of the pictures from my last Bishop trip & a v-log I posted yesterday from my NDTitanLady channel on Youtube. Don’t fear the video icon. We all know 80% of youtube organic traffic is sourced from low-key pervs who direct to sexually misleading screen captures. Its all a strategic vlogger ploy *wink*

I drove up solo to Bishop this past weekend, but I ran into everyone I know in the climbing community! It was great seeing everyone there, did not feel alone at all. Also, thanks to my wonderful friends for taking me in, letting me sleep on the floor of their motel room. More thanks to the nice bishop family who let me sleep in their log fired warm house. I set up my campsite both nights, but left it alone overnight because I got a warm bed to sleep in. Everything worked out perfectly.

This is me freezing my buns off in the milks, but this year I bought and brought a catalytic heater. SAVED MY LIFE.

The ominous storm rolling in over the Sierras.

Storm or not! There was a handful of us out in the Buttermilks.

2nd day out in the Happies

I just don’t understand why no one wants to hold my hand.


Natalie Duran <–

Dreams really do come true!

      I got a couple shots in the new issue of California Climbing Magazine – Issue No. 3! SO EXCITED. California Climber is a fairly new independent magazine dedicated to Rock Climbing in California. I like that it focuses on all aesthetic boulder/sport/trad climbs easy or hard.

I’ve been to Malibu Creek State Park to sport climb quite a few times. Here are a few of my past DPM posts about this crag:

The first shot is in the opening page of the magazine. I am leading up Urban Struggle (12b)

The second shot is in the meat of the article about Malibu Creek. This climb is a nice pumpy jug-haul warmup called Johnny Can’t Lead (11a). Both of these pictured climbs are located past a 5.3 & 5.5 approach traverse over pathogenic water that leads into the Ghetto Wall Area.

It’s always been a dream of mine to be in a magazine doing something I love. If it’s not about a published article on laboratory research, climbing definitely is just as satisfying. I come from an Asian family that demands successes. I fell in love with climbing as soon as I mantled my first V1. After the first climbing gym visit, I signed up for membership three days later. Climbing became a change in lifestyle. Any free time quickly converted to climb-time.

Mom & Pop immediately noticed my new-found passion in climbing. They noticed, but didn’t accept it. If my activities did not involve school, volunteering, studying, or making money… my parents didn’t approve. I appreciate everything my family has done for me financially and morally in regards to education. But I still wanted them to accept climbing as a part of my life. So I pushed myself to get stronger and to seek out sponsorship. Initially, sponsorship was a “proof-of-success” to present my parents. Two years later, I still am the happiest person I could ever be thanks to the climbing as a sport and the people in it.

      Balancing life & climbing is fairly simple. I know my priorities. Next spring I am graduating on time with a B.S. in Neurosceince. I started climbing the same time freshman year began at UCR in 2009. Climbing has always been a stress reliever whenever school became taxing. I will take a year off before applying to medical schools. During that year I plan to take a class for the MCATs while working at a research laboratory at UCLA. Balancing life and climbing is easy for me, probably because I’m not in a relationship… & I am perfectly fine with that. For now.

#1 Priority: The ULTIMATE GOAL –> Dr. Duran.

Wow, ok. I wrote more than planned for this blog post. It’s all a distraction to keep me away form studying. Anyways, I always have to thank Anthony Lapomardo for taking epic climbing shots spread throughout the climbing industry. Even though he drags me to other far off places, it’s always worth it to get on gorgeous climbs. Anthony shot those images of me in the magazine!

Hope everyone’s Holiday Season is going well. I am currently enduring through FINALS week at my university. Not much happiness going on at my end, but I’m trucking through it. Right after my last final from 3-6pm this Friday, I am heading straight to Bishop! I might get a couple hours of sleep before I have to hike up to the Druids for some crack-of-dawn climbing. Mental exhaustion will feel less nocicepctive if I add physical exhaustion to the mix, right? Oh, Pontereticulospinal Tract don’t fail me now. Should be a great time. If anyone is heading out to the Eastern Sierras next weekend, see you there! I’ll be there until the 17th of this month.

Stay Psyched & Climb ON!

–> Natalie Duran