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From left, Victor Angry, Prince William County supervisor, Neabsco District; Caden Nance, 8, of Dumfries; Derrick Wood, Dumfries mayor; Seth Hendler-Voss, director of Prince William County Parks, Recreation & Tourism; and Andrea Bailey, Prince William County supervisor, Potomac District; climb on one of the 11 features at Locust Shade Park's Warrior Challenge Course in Triangle on July 21.

“We’re here to celebrate the power of partnerships,” the director of Prince William County’s Parks, Recreation & Tourism told about 50 people in the sweltering heat at Locust Shade Park in Triangle earlier this month.

Seth Hendler-Voss was among county, state and federal dignitaries on hand to cut the ribbon on a major addition to the county park – a challenge course, inspired by the “Ninja Warriors” television show.

Hendler-Voss said the park addition replaces three aging tennis courts that had become overgrown with weeds.

“We don’t like weeds growing under our feet. We like to keep moving, provide for our citizens and meet the demands of the day,” he said. “We wanted to replace those courts with something modern.”

The course, designed for older children and adults, features 11 different obstacles to jump across or climb through, up and over, along with some additional outdoor exercise equipment. The course is spread across a large space with foam flooring and covered in AstroTurf. It’s intended to provide something Marines could train on, and their families could participate as well.

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Caden Nance, 8, and his father, Brad, of Dumfries navigate one of the features on the Warrior Challenge course at Locust Shade Park in Triangle. The course was a collaborative effort between the county and Marine Corps Base Quantico.

“The course has a 30-yard dash with electronic timer, a small playground, an obstacle course, outdoor gym equipment and a warped wall,” Hendler-Voss said. “The hope is that this project will draw folks to Locust Shade Park to take in all the other attractions we have here, including an amphitheater, marina, biking trails, fishing pond, mountain biking trails and many other amenities for people of all levels of fitness.”

Partnership is the reason Locust Shade Park even exists. The National Park Service’s Federal Lands to Park Program gave the property to the county at no cost in the 1970s, and this latest improvement is a joint effort between Marine Corps Base Quantico and Prince William County, each of which contributed $250,000 for the additions.

Col. Michael Brooks, who assumed command of the Quantico base July 16, said he was excited to see such a fitness-centric feature available just a mile and a half from Quantico’s main gate.

“We’re very happy to be a part of this. A lot of Marine Corps families and service members come to this park on a daily basis,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t matter your age or ability level – everyone can take part in the challenge course, and I hope it’s as popular as it appears to be.”

Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey of the Potomac District said she was thrilled to welcome Brooks to the district with such an appropriate moment.

“Being a member of a military family, it’s never lost on me the sacrifices our service members and their families make in order to keep us safe,” Bailey said. “It is very fitting that we can collectively help them, providing them a place like the Warrior Challenge to keep their health intact, to keep their mind and spirits intact.”

Kathleen Jabs, the acting Virginia secretary of veterans and defense affairs, spoke on behalf of Gov. Ralph Northam.She said that through partnership, leaders and citizens realize there’s much to do, and that they can’t do it alone.

“People are working together, teaming up to create something bigger and better than they can do on their own. That takes talent, vision and plain hard work,” Jabs said. “When those efforts come together, the possibilities are endless – like this park.”

Paul Lara covers the military beat. Reach him at plara@insidenova.com

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