|Created by||Mark Burnett|
|Starring||Gillian Anderson, Kathy Lynch, Ian Adamson, Mike Kloser, Sara Ballentyne, David Duchovny, John Howard, Charlton Heston, Keith Murray, David Callaway, Andrea Murray, Holly Hunter, Michael Tobin, Nathan Fa'ave,|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||36|
|Executive producer(s)||Mark Burnett, Lisa Hennessy|
|Original network||Discovery Channel|
|Original release||April 1, 1995– April 11, 2002|
Eco-Challenge: The Expedition Race is a multi-day expedition length adventure race in which teams of four compete. It aired on TV from April 1995 to April 2002.
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.
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 Patagonian Expedition Race continue to be held.
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. 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.
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 by Discovery soon after the shows aired. The Utah, Maine/New England, and Fiji episodes were never officially released in the United States.
- 1995 Utah
- 1995 Maine/New England (as part of the X-Games X-Venture adventure race)
- 1996 British Columbia
- 1997 Australia
- 1998 Morocco
- 1999 Argentina
- 2000 Sabah, Borneo
- 2001 New Zealand
- 2001 U.S. Armed Forces Challenge (benefiting TAPS)
- 2002 Fiji
- 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