Mark Burnett and Bear Grylls Join Forces to Reignite World’s Toughest Expedition Competition: ‘Eco-Challenge’


Known as the race that eats Ironmen for breakfast—Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank) and Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild, Running Wild) are teaming up to revive Eco-Challenge, the world's toughest expedition competition.

At LightWorkers, we are thrilled to share some news from our parent company, MGM Studios: Mark Burnett, President of MGM Television and Digital Group, and Bear Grylls, adventurer, host and author, are teaming up to revive Eco-Challenge, an endurance race reality series of epic proportions.

bear-grylls-mark-burnett-LightWorkersDescribed as “[The] little race [that] eats Ironmen for breakfast,” Eco-Challenge now combines the world’s two best-known adventure television experts: Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank) and one of the most recognized faces of survival and outdoor adventure, Grylls (Man vs. Wild, Running Wild)The beloved series, which was the pre-cursor for Survivor ran for 10 editions over 8 years. Eco-Challenge was created by Burnett in 1992 and gave him his first Emmy award—ultimately setting the course for unscripted adventure storytelling in television.

This little race eats Ironman for breakfast.

Eco-Challenge brings Burnett full circle in his career, back to where it all began. Grylls, who will host and Executive Produce the series, starred in seasons of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award-nominated Man vs. Wild television series, which became one of the most-watched shows of all time reaching an estimated 1.2 billion viewers. He currently stars in and produces the NBC primetime hit series Running Wild with Bear Grylls.

The first Eco-Challenge was started on April 25, 1995, in South Eastern Utah and lasted eleven days with the French team winning first place. It was held each subsequent year in a new location including Australia, Morocco, Patagonia, Borneo, Canada, New Zealand and Fiji. The competition was often comprised of more than 50 international teams of 4 (with a mandatory mix of both men and women) racing 24 hours a day over a rugged 300-mile course. Teams had to train to become proficient and pass assessment tests in mountaineering, horseback riding, sea kayaking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, camel riding, canyoneering and more. Competitors were under strict rules to carry out all trash, including solid human waste. If any team member quit the entire team was disqualified.

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“The most asked question in my entire career is “will you ever bring back Eco-Challenge?” and I’d always known we needed the correct authentic figurehead to lead us forward effectively. Bear Grylls is that leader. He’s tough, he’s smart and he’s extremely capable in both the wilderness and in the boardroom. He’s my friend and I couldn’t be happier and I’d gladly follow him,” said Burnett.

This is raw human endeavor at its most powerful.

Burnett and Grylls jointly say “Eco-Challenge is not a reality series, it’s a real expedition with a stopwatch. It’s extremely difficult and you will suffer. If you don’t want to suffer, don’t apply.”

Eco-Challenge is the ultimate global survival-adventure race, against the elements, against the clock and against some of the greatest extreme athletes the world has ever seen. I am so proud to have partnered with MGM Television and the legendary Mark Burnett to bring this incredible adventure series to the world. This is raw human endeavor at its most powerful,” added Grylls.

The series will select a location and television partner and look to start shooting in late 2019. Burnett and Grylls’ will executive produce along with Delbert Shoopman who is Grylls’ producing partner and a multi-BAFTA award-winning producer for television. It is expected that Burnett will bring back his original, highly experienced adventure production team of Lisa Hennessy, Scott Flavelle and Kevin Hodder.

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