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“I think that the number one thing that we’ve helped each other do is keep climbing really fun,” Andrews said. “It’s so intense to have just one try at the obstacles on the show, but the two of us were able to make it into a game and laugh it off when we failed.”
Although to viewers at home the obstacles may seem to cause the most difficulty for contestants, Levin said that other production factors made his victory run even more challenging.
“The entire course is filmed at night,” Levin said. “You get to set at 4 or 5 p.m., sign 200 pages or your life to NBC and then wait around for hours. Sometimes you’re running at 2, 3 even 4 in the morning with only 20 seconds of rest between obstacles.”
Despite the difficulties, Levin cited the contestants’ ability to collaborate and work toward a common goal as one of his favorite parts of the show, a skill that that he first honed under Collver’s watchful eye.
“The most valuable thing that I taught him was probably the better a climber he became, the more humble he had to be,” Collver said. “Because people look up to him, he becomes their idol, and so he has to treat his fellow competitors with respect.”
Trading in training with Collver to pursue mechanical engineering at Northeastern, Levin sought to establish a new homebase to pursue climbing. This interest led him to co-found the university’s climbing team with roommate Evan Goldfinger in the spring of 2014.
“At first, we started pretty small at 13 members, then the next year we doubled it and had 50 people try out,” Goldfinger said. This year, he said that 115 people applied for 30 open spots, many with goals equally ambitious as Levin’s.
“A lot of us are interested in [ANW;] there’s a lot of overlap and climbers tend to be naturally equipped for these obstacles,” Goldfinger said.
Levin agreed, but said that the physical aspect of the show is only part of the test.
“You want to find something that really pushes your limits, both physically and mentally,” he said. “And once you get to the top it’s the best feeling ever.”
The ANW Las Vegas Finals will air on NBC in a three-part series beginning on Monday, Aug. 29.
Watch Levin’s climb to victory below:
Screengrab by NBC