ST. CLOUD -- Athletes are taking over St. Cloud State University this weekend. The 9th annual Granite Games start Thursday evening and runs through Sunday afternoon.

The games have previously been held in September, but spokesman Adam Smith says they were moved up this year.

This year we did get sanctioned by Cross Fit HQ and so those athletes that are in the pro division have an opportunity to punch their ticket to the Cross Fit Games which is in Madison in August.  Those folks are probably a little nervous and really looking forward to doing well this weekend.

Smith says, besides the elite athletes, there will be a lot of novices competing too. The over 1,500 athletes range in age from teenagers to people in their 60s and will be coming from several different countries.

Smith says they'll be taking over Halenbeck Hall, the National Hockey Center, the football stadium, and most of the surrounding parking lots on campus.  He says they are also utilizing some of the dorm rooms at SCSU to help with housing the athletes.

He says the action kicks off with the first competition Thursday night.

We have an event on site this year for the first time on Thursday for the pros it's a free event to the public, so if people are looking at checking it out without paying for a ticket I would suggest Thursday evening.  It's basically a speed ladder event, very exciting very quick and that starts at 6:00 p.m.

The rest of the competition from Friday through Sunday is also open to the public with tickets sold at the door.