April 25th, will mark the 20th anniversary of the start of Eco-Challenge. It was an adventure that began in Utah and went on to be produced in British Columbia, Australia, Morocco, Argentina, Borneo, Fiji, New Zealand, Alaska and Maine. Along the way a global tribe was created made up of staff, crew, volunteers, competitors, journalists and locals.
In celebration of all the friendships and memories created along the way we are gathering together for a 20 year reunion!
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.
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. In contrast, other expedition-length races, including Primal Quest and the infamous Patagonian Expedition Race continue to be held.