Long before Mark Burnett ever dreamed of trapping 16 Survivors on a deserted island, he stranded 300 people in some of the most remote and forbidding places on Earth. The contest is called "The Eco-Challenge" and last year the seventh annual competition took place halfway around the world in Borneo, Malaysia.
48 Hours trails three teams of Americans as they take on physical and emotional challenges in a pursuit that few people would dare attempt. Contenders face 12 brutal days and sleepless nights of jungle trekking, whitewater paddling, sailing, swimming and biking over a 320-mile course.
Team Earthlink, from Southern California, believes they can win it all. This foursome includes two seasoned race veterans, plus a millionaire couple from Malibu who agree to pay all race expenses for their chance to compete. It is costing them $70,000; will it cost them their marriage?
48 Hours follows the team led by Charlie Engle, a recovering drug and alcohol addict. During the race, Engle is forced to make a choice between his passion for racing and his battle against addiction.
Inexperience didn't deter Team Goonies, a happy-go-lucky group of 30-somethings from Santa Monica, Calif. Last year, they watched the race on television, but this year, the gung-ho rookies will compete in it. To prepare for the race, this team quit their jobs, maxed out their credit cards and embarked upon a crash course in jungle survival. They say they're in it just to finish, but considering their skill level, they'll be lucky to even survive it.
In all, 76 co-ed teams of four, representing 20 countries, believed they have what it takes to finish the race. The race was eventually won by Team Salomon/Eco-Internet, which won the race in 5 days, 23 hours, and 41 minutes. Despite the travails, all three teams profiled on the broadcast will be back in this year's race, which will take place in New Zealand in October.
Aired: 21 Mar 2001