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Image eco.jpg
Genre Reality
Created by Mark Burnett
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 36
Original channel USA Network
Original run April 1, 1995 (1995-04-01) – April 11, 2002 (2002-04-11)

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 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.[citation needed] In contrast, other expedition-length races, including Primal Quest and the infamous Patagonian Expedition Race continue to be held.

Television history[edit]

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.[1] The 1995 Maine/New England event was broadcast in segments as part of the X-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. 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.

Although long out of print, the 1996 through 2001 Eco-Challenge races were released on VHS.[when?] The Utah, Maine/New England, and Fiji episodes were never officially released in the United States. Copies of the races are occasionally available on auction websites.[citation needed]

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 also[edit]


  • This article incorporates text from [1] released under the GFDL license [2]