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Inaugural Ken-Caryl Family Ninja Warrior Challenge deemed a success

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By Deborah Swearingen

Ninjas took to Ken-Caryl’s Heirloom Park on Saturday for a morning full of family, fitness and fun.

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Fitness coordinator Janet Robbins came up with the idea for the Ken-Caryl Family Ninja Warrior Challenge, which included a variety of obstacle course-style activities in the park as well as a short run to the community center pool for a final station in the water.

“(I) just wanted to try and incorporate a fun fitness challenge for families. Get children involved, and families doing activities together,” Robbins said. In all, some 80 people signed up for the event. “Everybody’s into the ninja stuff right now.”

Judy Anderson, facility supervisor at the Ken-Caryl Community Center, agreed. In true ninja spirit, both were decked out in red-and-black warrior clothing.

“(We’re) trying to keep kids active in a fun, family way,” she said.

Due to limited equipment, Robbins, Anderson and the rest of the organizing team “used their creative juices” to create the various stations scattered about the park.

After completing the Bosu ball balancing challenge, Bailey Fitzpatrick said her favorite activity of the day was “probably the swing thing.” The swing thing to which the 9-year-old referred was a “ninja slackline,” where the ninjas had to test their upper-body strength by swinging along a series of ropes and bars and making it from one tree to another.

Miles Spring, on the other hand, preferred a different station. The proud 4-year-old said his favorite part was “doing the bird nest.” This station required participants to maneuver through a web of ropes.

In addition to these favorites, there was an agility ladder, log climb, Army crawl, hurdles, tire flip, heavy hill carry and bear crawl.

Unofficially, the event concluded at the community center pool, where participants had to dive in and out of doughnut-shaped inner tubes for the doughnut dive challenge.

The event was much less of a race than it was a way to have a good time and get some exercise, and organizers stressed the informality. Participants could begin at a station of their choosing, and they were welcome to skip stations or try the course twice.

“It’s not a competition. It’s more for fun,” Robbins told the crowd before most took off.

Event coordinators hope to make the Family Ninja Warrior Challenge a tradition.

“Now that we’ve done it and had a good response, we’re thinking about doing it annually,” Anderson said.

In the future, Robbins said they may choose to host a breakfast following the challenge to encourage families to stick around.

But one thing is for certain — the event was a hit.