Eco-Challenge: The Expedition Race is a multi-day expedition length adventure race in which teams of four compete. It aired from April 1995 to April 2002.
Eco-Challenge was created in 1992 by Mark Burnett. Inspired by an 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 (500km) course, participating in such disciplines as trekking, whitewater canoeing, horseback riding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, mountaineering, camelback 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.
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