Death by Wetuple Steps

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Venice Beach and walked around the American Ninja Warrior 3 obstacle course was that the Quadruple Steps had much steeper steps, and the distance/spacing of the steps had been changed to create a bigger jump between the second and third steps.  I wondered to Ron whether it was going to make it harder this year for some competitors.  Personally I wasn’t worried, I’d blasted through the Quad Steps easily in ANW2, I felt I could do the same here even if they made it a bit tougher.

So Ron and I anxiously awaited the Day 1 morning runners (we were scheduled to run on the morning of Day 2), and sat in the stands rooting people on and studying their attempts.  In that morning session, I think only 2 people out of probably 40 runners fell on the new Quad Steps, and we even talked at lunch about how the Quad Steps were too easy if 95% of the early runners could get past it. I felt pretty good about my chances of finishing the course, they had removed the Spider Wall which had been my nemesis in American Ninja Warrior 2, and the only thing that I believe stopped me from finishing last year. It was inexplicably gone, to my enormous relief, and watching the runners on that sunny Monday morning made me feel that I had a great shot at finishing the course and standing on top of the Warped Wall in victory.

Then in the afternoon I received my first clue that things might go otherwise.  A 400lb sumo wrestler, some guy that is North American champ I believe, did a run.  And when he fell, he created a massive water displacement effect that splashed and wet the bottom part of the four quad steps.  Suddenly after that all sorts of people began to fall on the Quad Steps, and each time they did they further wet the steps with their splashings.  People I thought would have no problem getting through the steps, semifinalist caliber runners, guys who had gone to Japan, were suddenly eating it on the Quad Steps, and you could feel panic go through the competitors who were starting to realize that the rug that covers the Quad Steps does an impression of black ice when wet.  When I started to see runners who I know are better than me fall was when I started to worry in earnest.

Ron and I finished the day suddenly nervous about running on the wet Quad Steps, and the forecast of rain for that night and the following morning when we were scheduled to run had us sweating in our Five Fingers.  Of course, it rained all night and the following morning, and we stood in the cold rain for four hours before we were given our shot to run on a totally wet obstacle course.  It was a killing field on the soaking wet Quad Steps.  Maybe 1 in 5 guys were still able to get past the obstacle, and my hats off to these ninja studs, but a good 80% of the runners in the Day 2 morning opening group fell on the “Wet-Uple Steps”, including my sorry ass.  Including my buddy Ron who fell right after me (and the three guys who fell right in a row before me, and the three other guys who fell in a row after Ron).  It was a big fat bummer for a lot of people. A lot of dreams died in quick wet succession.

But, hey, this is a TV show and “the show must go on” even if it is sleeting or snowing, as the competitors in Ninja Warrior Japan have routinely faced, so I am hardly the only competitor who has suffered at the random whim of Mother Nature.  Plus, Ninjas aren’t allowed to complain about weather.  I just hope they let me run again in ANW4…gotta start training!

P.S. Mad props to Jaggard227 over at the G4 boards for minting the term “Wetuple Steps” (oops…Jaggard227 just informed me that the minting credit should go to RiderRingeru on the boards!)