Kirtland Airmen place in Ultimate Ninja competition

Left to right, 2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, and 1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, chalk their hands before climbing obstacles.

Left to right, 2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, and 1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, chalk their hands before climbing obstacles at the Ninja Force Gym in Albuquerque, N.M. The three Airmen competed in the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association qualifier adult competition, each of them placing in the top 10 of their respective categories.

1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, maneuvers across a slack line at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Hilburn qualified for the Alpha warrior finals with a time of 50 seconds.

1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, maneuvers across a slack line at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Hilburn qualified for the Alpha warrior finals with a time of 50 seconds.

Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, swings on an obstacle at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Krause began his ninja obstacle training a year ago.

Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, swings on an obstacle at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Krause began his ninja obstacle training a year ago.

2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, and 1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, work out at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4.

Left to right, 2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, and 1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, work out at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. The ninja course athletes were also invited to the Air Force Alpha Warrior finals in San Antonio in November.

2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, climbs a rope at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Casteel was a pole vaulter while at the Air Force Academy and all through high-school.

2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, climbs a rope at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Casteel was a pole vaulter while at the Air Force Academy and all through high-school.

Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, works on grips strength using floating boards at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Krause placed second in the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association qualifier adult competition with a course time of 5:45.

Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “osprey” crew chief, works on grips strength using floating boards at the Ninja Force Gym, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 4. Krause placed second in the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association qualifier adult competition with a course time of 5:45.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Three members of Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., participated in the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association area qualifier adult competition, in Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 9.

1st Lt. Eddie Hilburn, Air Force Research Lab optical physicist, 2nd Lt. Zoe Casteel, Air Force Research Lab space systems engineer, and Tech. Sgt. David Krause, 58th Maintenance Squadron CV-22 “Osprey” crew chief, all placed in the competition. 

Hilburn placed second in the amateur division and Krause placed second overall with a time of five minutes and forty-five seconds. With the completion of the area qualifier, they will both move on to the regional qualifier in June.

The Kirtland competitors, along with 35 others, were each given seven minutes and thirty seconds to complete the 15 obstacles on the course.

“Everybody you meet in the ninja obstacle course family are the groups of people you want around you,” said Krause. “Being around people who challenge you helps you get better. Everyone is very driven and going after the same goals.”

This isn’t the first time the ninja course competitors have teamed up before. Aside from training together, they all participated in the U.S. Air Force Alpha Warrior competition. The Alpha Warrior Final Battle was held Nov. 11 at Retama Park in Selma, Texas. The top male and female winners from 15 regional competitions, as well as the top 10 male and 10 female competitors with the best course runs from across the Air Force, competed for the Air Force Alpha Warrior title.

Casteel and Krause were regional winners that earned an invite to the finals. Hilburn posted one of the top times Air Force wide and also received an invitation to the event. At the finals, Hilburn placed ninth, Krause placed eighth and Casteel placed fourth in their respective divisions. The Kirtland Alpha Warriors will compete again next year and look to place higher.

“I think it gives people the opportunity to do something different with fitness,” Hilburn said. “The Air Force is big on fitness for obvious reasons. This is another way to go about it that can hold people’s attention. It’s interesting, there’s always a new problem to solve and it’s really cool the Air Force is going this way with fitness.”