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Seattle's James McGrath isn't the first person to sleep in a borrowed van in Venice Beach, Calif.

He might, however, be one of the first

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James McGrath, Seattle Athlete, Competes to Be America's Ultimate Ninja Warrior

jamesmcgrath02.jpg
Seattle's James McGrath isn't the first person to sleep in a borrowed van in Venice Beach, Calif.

He might, however, be one of the first to do so before trying out for a ninja-themed game show.

McGrath has now made it through two rounds of the show American Ninja Warrior on G4--a obstacle-course program that combines the testosterone-fueled excitement of American Gladiators with the campy, blooper-reel antics of Wipeout.

The 24-year-old insurance student and South Park neighborhood resident caught up with Seattle Weekly and explained why he wants to travel to Japan and put his body through the "world's toughest obstacle course" (besides the $500,000 sponsorship deal that goes to the winner).

"I'd been watching the Japanese version [called Sasuke] for as long as it was on G4. I got super-excited about the American version," McGrath says. "Last year I didn't make it. This year I was going to."

As it stands there are five episodes left of American Ninja Warrior, with the last one being a two-hour finale in which a group of finalists is selected that will then head to Japan and the dreaded "Mt. Midoriyama" course.

Ten U.S. competitors will make it to the final show. One will get the sponsorship deal.

The game is simple: Whoever jumps, swings, climbs, and runs through the course the fastest wins--with crowd points awarded for the most ridiculous outfit.

Here are some examples:

Last year, McGrath's ninja hopes were dashed on the "Quad Steps," a series of four sloped platforms that one must spring off in succession in order to reach the other side of a moat (generally everything in ANW is done over a moat).

McGrath also watched contestant after contestant fall on the "Salmon Ladder," a climbing exercise in which the athletes use a chin-up-bar to jerk themselves up a series of horizontal rungs.

But McGrath had a solution.

"After I saw everyone fell on the Salmon Ladder, I built one at home," he says. "It's just so awkward to do, going up it."

This past Sunday, the second round of the competition, McGrath made it to the final obstacle--a series of two wobbly boards suspended by ropes called the "Uneven Ridge" that the contestants have to cross while hanging.

He didn't hang on long enough.

Fortunately, he got far enough on the course to advance to the next round.

Here he is a few seconds before defeat.

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The next episode of ANW airs this Sunday at 9 p.m. on G4, followed by four more stateside shows before the finalists head to Japan.

Unfortunately, McGrath won't be able to bring his aunt's van if he makes it to Japan.

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