Turns out the Eco-Challenge is a survivor after all. Adventure
racing's biggest event was exiled in 2003 by its creator, Mark
Burnett (who also gave birth to Survivor), who suggested at the
time that he might scrap the event for good (SI ADVENTURE, May
12, 2003). Last week Burnett told SI that the 10th Eco-Challenge
will be run next year.
"Everyone--my staff, cameramen and TV networks--has been asking
me to bring back the Eco-Challenge," Burnett says. "This year I
was really stretched with producing Survivor and all the other
shows I've got going, so I decided to take a year off from the
Eco-Challenge. I wanted to do something big for my 10th, but it's
a really big production. It's like trying to shoot Desert Storm.
We've got the resources to produce [the Eco] for next year."
Burnett, who is in negotiations with all four major networks for
a prime-time deal, says he will make an official announcement
The reprieve is welcome news to pro racers. "This is fantastic,"
says Team Earthlink's Jason Middleton, who has competed in seven
Ecos. "There was a lot of talk about our sport declining and how
this was the beginning of the end. The return of Eco-Challenge is
the validation that we need."
COLOR PHOTO: DAN CAMPBELL GEARING UP Eco's rebirth is a boost for expedition racing.
COLOR PHOTO: TONY BARSON/WIREIMAGE.COM Diaz
COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF DANELLE FOLTA Folta
When Playboy bunny Danelle Folta was infected by a flesh-eating
bacteria that turned her right foot black and gangrenous during
the 2002 Eco-Challenge in Fiji, she never dreamed her misery
would be portrayed on the big screen by Hollywood's highest-paid
actress. But now Cameron Diaz will step into Folta's soggy shoes
in X-Girls, a 20th Century-Fox comedy based on Folta and her
Playboy X-treme Team of adventure-racing bunnies. "I still can't
believe Cameron Diaz is going to play me. I mean, I've got these
nasty scars on my foot and my butt," says Folta, Miss April 1995.
Diaz is set to train with Folta's squad, which is preparing for
the 2004 Eco-Challenge.