Athletes will unleash their inner ninjas this weekend.
They’ll tackle an obstacle course inspired by the reality show “American Ninja Warrior” at the Cornhusker State Games.
The course includes obstacles familiar to viewers of the show, like a warped wall, trapeze swing and rolling log.
The ninja challenge, which about 125 athletes will tackle, is new to this year’s games. It stems from an idea by Maggi Thorne, a former Husker track athlete and four-time “American Ninja Warrior” competitor. Thorne, of Lincoln, be there for Saturday’s competition.
“Off-the-beaten-path” sports are what the State Games are all about, said executive director Dave Mlnarik.
“We’re trying to be more inclusive and reach new audiences.”
The ninja challenge joins rowing and BMX freestyle as new sports this year.
The competition’s other nontraditional offerings include foosball, sport skydiving and horseshoe pitching.
The State Games, which run through July 29, also offer typical sports like basketball, golf and volleyball.
Girl Scouts got a sneak peek at the course Wednesday. Thorne, a former Girl Scout, partnered with the organization because their missions to empower girls and women align.
“A lot of girls don’t know how to celebrate their strengths,” Thorne said. “They’re not comfortable with who they are and don’t know what they’re capable of.”
She hopes the course taught the girls — and competing athletes — to tackle challenges and follow their dreams.
About 30 scouts and their families put their ninja skills to the test.
“Some came in really fired up and ready to jump on an obstacle. Some were a little more hesitant,” said Melissa Breazile, Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska spokeswoman. “Watching them over the course of the evening, they got comfortable and braver.”
At the State Games, ninjas ranging in age from 6 to 52 will tackle a series of obstacles. The course will vary slightly for kids and adults. And the winner in each age group will be the person who completes the most obstacles the fastest.
They’ll run up a warped wall — a steep, curved wall — to get to the top. In another obstacle, athletes will sail on a trapeze swing into a cargo net.
Organizers thought the event would be popular and were pleased with turnout, Mlnarik said. He credits interest in the competition to the television show.
“The TV show is compelling. … It makes me want to try it when I see the show,” he said.