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Backyard warriors battle to be best

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Marissa Jenkins swings on an obstacle Saturday at the the Ultimate Backyard Warrior obstacle course competition.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ultimate Backyard Warrior is bigger than ever this year and today all Twin Counties students can participate for free.

The physically challenging, fun-to-watch obstacle course competition swings into its second day on Church Street in Rocky Mount. The event has attracted hundreds of spectators and competitors, either cheering for brave contestants or trying their best at the grueling course.

“It's been a big blessing,” said event organizer Mike Cook. “Sponsors are starting to see value in it and they want to get involved.”

New this year, traveling competitors and their families were able to stay free in the dorms of N.C. Wesleyan College. Sponsors have also pledged to cover entry fees for any student of Nash-Rocky Mount and Edgecombe County schools. Students can show up today and participate for free; their parents will still have to pay the spectator entry fee.

“The college's generosity has helped a lot of people cut back on their travel expenses,” Cook said.

The event is a local and regional qualifier for the popular sports entertainment competition series “American Ninja Warrior,” with several of the show's stars taking part. Daniel Gil has won the last two competitions over ninja superstars like Neil Craver, Grant McCartney and Adam Rayl.

The event is popular with female superstars as well. Natalie Duran, Jessie Graff, Tiana Webberley, Lindsay Eskildsen, Maggi Thorne and Michelle Warnky have all competed in the past.

The obstacle course includes rope swings, climbing through a cargo net, crawling along a pipe, running across a see-saw and charging up a curved wall. New this Memorial Day weekend is a long water trough running the length of one course so when competitors fail to grab the rope or ring they fall into the water instead of hitting a mat.

The event is on its fifth year. Cook, 47, creator of the UBW gym, has appeared on “American Ninja Warrior” in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Cook started training for the Ninja Warrior competition in hopes of winning prize money to pay off some debts. Now he runs the local events as a way to reach people for Christ. Today's events kick off with Sunday morning worship at 9 a.m.

One lucky competitor will win a car donated by Davenport AutoPark.

The family-friendly event has kids’ blowup rides, face painting, pony rides, music, food vendors and more. Tickets will be available at the event. UBW is located at 2550 N. Church St.

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