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WNC parkour leader takes to the world stage for a game of tag

Western North Carolina resident Ryan Mallon [front row, left] competed on the international stage in World Chase Tag (Courtesy Ryan Mallon).jpg
Western North Carolina resident Ryan Mallon [front row, left] competed on the international stage in World Chase Tag (Courtesy Ryan Mallon).jpg

(WLOS) Tag is a game almost every human plays at some point in their life. Eventually, we stop playing for one reason or another; we pick up organized sports, find other interests, or simply don't have the energy anymore.

However, a select group of some of the country's most dynamic athletes has proven you're never too old to revisit the playground.

For the first time in the franchises history, World Chase Tag held a regional qualifier in the United States. The competition, founded in 2011 in the U.K., has garnered massive interest in Europe. When the contest came to Atlanta, Ryan Mallon was chosen to represent the mountains of Western North Carolina.

"It was an honor even to be on the stage with 96 of the country's best athletes," he said. Mallon was asked to join a team formed by Enso Movement, a parkour facility in Raleigh.

Mallon has been a leader of the Asheville parkour community for nearly a decade, holding annual 'jams', or meet-ups. The Roxy in Atlanta was the stage for World Chase Tag and played right into his skill set. The competition surface, known as the 'Quad', is 40x40 feet and is littered with opportunities for showcasing athleticism.

"The arena in which we competed is just set with all these obstacles, designed the same way in every competition, and involves strategy," he explained. "They put elements like blocks and railings and ramps and things to use as barriers or as points of leverage to chase people down."

Games feature two teams of up to six athletes. There are up to sixteen 'chases' where one member from a team is designated as the 'chaser' and his opponent the 'evader.' From there, it's just like the childhood version. Each chase lasts 20 seconds and the winning athlete stays on as the evader while the loser is replaced by a teammate who becomes the chaser.

If the evader makes it the entire 20 seconds, then their team is awarded 1 point. The chaser must tag with their hand, and if an evader steps out-of-bounds then they lose that points. Whichever team has the most points after the pre-determined amount of chases wins and advances.

Although WTC was born out of parkour, CrossFit and Ninja Warrior competitors also took part. "It was a melting pot of all these physical disciplines that involve just moving the body and overcoming obstacles," Mallon said.

While he could not go into detail of how his team fared, Mallon knows that simply showcasing his passion on the international stage can only help drive up the popularity and interest.

"A lot of people look at parkour and think that they need to be able to do certain high-level things and they have to be jumping across buildings, or doing all these amazing flips and tricks," Mallon laughed. "World Chase Tag kind of brings it to a level where someone can watch the competition and say, 'You know that looks like fun, like I want to put together a team.'"

The first episode of Mallon's competition airs November 12th at 11:00pm EST on NBC Sports. For a full list of showings, click here.