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Eco-Challenge: The Expedition Race was a multi-day expedition length adventure race in which teams of four or five, depending on the year, competed. It aired on TV from April 1995 to April 2002.

Image eco.jpg
Created byMark Burnett
Presented byBear Grylls (2019)
StarringKathy Lynch, Ian Adamson, Sara Ballentyne, John Howard, Charlton Heston, Keith Murray, David Callaway, Andrea Murray, Michael Tobin, Jeff Leininger, Hunter Leininger, Tom Ambrose, Katie Ferrington, Joshua Forester, Caitlin Thorn, Jesse Tubb, Jesse Spangler, Kevin Howser , Shane Hagerman, Peter Jolles, Chris Von Ins, Michelle Hobson.
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons10
No. of episodes36
Executive producer(s)Mark Burnett, Lisa Hennessy
Producer(s)Tim Powell
Production location(s)Various
Editor(s)Brian Catalina
Production company(s)MGM Television
Original networkDiscovery Channel (1995-2002),
Amazon Video (2019)
Original releaseOriginal series:
April 1, 1995 (1995-04-01) - April 11, 2002 (2002-04-11)
Revival series:
September 5, 2019 (2019-09-05) - September 25, 2019 (2019-09-25)

The race will return in September 2019, as it will take place in Fiji.[1]


Eco-Challenge is generally regarded as the genesis for modern day reality television, launching the success of Mark Burnett and his subsequent television shows Survivor, The Contender, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, The Apprentice and many more.

Eco-Challenge was created in 1992 by Mark Burnett. Inspired by a Los Angeles Times article about Gerald Fusil's Raid Gauloises adventure race in Costa Rica, Burnett formed a team and competed in two Raid Gauloises events. Although his teams did poorly, Burnett decided to create a similar race in North America. When the race went international, Burnett purchased the rights from Fusil and set out to make the Eco-Challenge the world's premier adventure race.

Each team comprised a mandatory mix of both men and women, racing non-stop, 24 hours a day, over a rugged 300-mile (500 km) course, participating in such disciplines as trekking, whitewater canoeing, horseback riding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, mountaineering, camel-back riding, and mountain biking. Teams originally consisted of five members, but the team size was reduced to four members early in the event's history.[2]

The first Eco-Challenge was held on April 25, 1995, in the Utah desert and was held each year in a new locale until 2002. Burnett recently noted that he did not intend to hold another Eco-Challenge, but had considered selling the rights to it.[citation needed] In contrast, other expedition-length races, including Primal Quest and the Patagonian Expedition Race continue to be held.[citation needed]

Television historyEdit

Each Eco-Challenge was broadcast on cable television. The 1995 Utah race was shown as a 45-minute feature, produced by and broadcast on MTV.[3] The 1995 Maine/New England event was broadcast in segments as part of the Extreme Games broadcast on ESPN. Starting in 1996, Eco-Challenge was aired on the Discovery Channel and the production enjoyed a significantly expanded budget. The 1996 British Columbia production, broadcast on the Discovery Channel won an Emmy Award.

David Callaway and Mark Burnett during Eco-Challenge Utah

In 2000, the USA Network agreed to a three-year contract to broadcast the Eco-Challenge. Later that year, the show was nominated for a Prime-Time Emmy Award. USA did not renew the show after the 2002 Fiji race.[citation needed]

Although long out of print, the 1996 through 2001 Eco-Challenge races were released on VHS by Discovery soon after the shows aired.[4] The Utah, Maine/New England, and Fiji episodes were never officially released in the United States.

In 2011, Burnett sold Expedition Impossible, a reality show with a similar concept to Eco-Challenge, to ABC as a summer series. The new show debuted on June 30 of that year.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Burnett, Mark (2005). Jump In!. New York: Ballantine Books / Random House. ISBN 0-345-48098-8.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Example the British Columbia race was published in 1997 on 3 tapes composed of five episodes: Tape 1: "The Gathering", "Fire and Ice"; Tape 2: "Breaking Point", "The Storm" and tape 3: "The Prize". ISBN's for each tape are respectively: 1-57523-252-9, 1-57523-250-2 and 1-57523-251-0
  • This article incorporates text from [2] released under the GFDL license [3]