A popular obstacle course known to bring out the ninjas among Columbus’ athletic elite returns to the downtown today for a second year.
Fourth Street between Jackson and Washington streets will be closed all day as competitors scale walls and dangle from ladders as part of Columbus Ninja Warrior 2016, hosted by the Columbus Park Foundation.
The event is being organized by Columbus East High School senior Cordell Glass, who selected it as his senior project. Former East classmate Jacob Smith started the competition as his senior project last year. Proceeds will be donated to the park foundation.
Glass, a diver and competitor on the Columbus East High School swim team, also competed in the Ninja Warrior event last year, placing fourth in the under-17 age category.
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Contestants who are returning for another try at the course will be in for some surprises this year, said April Williams, park foundation project and resource development director. Several of the obstacles are new this year, with an additional two obstacles that are being kept a secret and reserved for finalists.
Like the television program “American Ninja Warrior,” the local event consists of timed attempts to navigate a complex challenging obstacle course.
The top three fastest participants in the male and female adult groups advance to the finals, with the competitor posting the quickest time winning a plaque declaring them this year’s Columbus Ninja Warrior.
In the under-17 age category, four finalists will be chosen, with male and female winners each receiving a plaque.
Last year, about 200 people participated and organizers believe that number would have been higher, but some competitors opted not to pre-register and weren’t able to squeeze into a time slot at the end of the day.
This year, organizers hope to attract 300 participants, Williams said.
Ideally, 30 people per hour can go through the course, Williams said.
Last year’s contest didn’t just draw participants, Williams said. Thousands of people also cheered on their favorites from the sidelines.
While the competition is designed to push participants to their physical limits, it is not exclusive to the power athlete, CrossFit crowd, Williams said. Participants of all ages and body types took part in last year’s event, she said.
What: Columbus Ninja Warrior 2016
Where: Fourth Street between Jackson and Washington Streets
When: 9 a.m. today, continuing into the evening until the competition is completed. Competitors who pre-register are assigned specific times to get on the course.
Price: $40 per participant paid at registration
How to register: Sign-up online at bit.ly/cbusninja2016 or in-person at Donner Center, 739 22nd St. Walk-up registration will be accepted at the event as time-slots are available.