More than 1,000 participants competed in the Bear Grylls Survival Competition at the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in Santa Clarita this weekend.
“What we’ve started is the sport of survival. We partnered with the icon of survival, Bear Grylls, and curated an experience,” explained James Leitz, senior vice president of IMG. “Five plus miles of trail running, through distinct survival environments, eighteen different challenges that are testing your dexterity, your mental fitness, your endurance and your strength.”
Participants were given a backpack with only six items: protective eyewear, one condom, a glow stick, bandana, a ziplock bag and one map. Each of these items were part of successfully performing a variety of survival challenges throughout the course.
After receiving the items, participants were taken in waves, anxiously waiting in a briefing room where they were briefed by announcers who prepared them for the course.
“Today, we’re going to challenge you. Today, we’re going to test you. We’re going to push you to the limit to see if you have what it takes to win, to see if you have what it takes to survive,” announced one of the speakers. “Courage, a positive attitude and a good memory are key essential functions to what you are going to need in order to survive. It’s about staying calm, level headed and using your senses and your wits. Survival isn’t a game you can afford to lose.”
The adventurer himself, Bear Grylls, also had a few words to share.
“To be prepared, you have to be tested, and that’s what this whole challenge is about, because without testing, there’s no growth,” explained Grylls. “It’s the struggle that develops the strength. Through those gates, you’re going to need resilience, you’ve got to be resolute, and you’ve got to be resourceful and above all, never give up. But as I always say, survival hurts, but it also rewards.”
Once the group of participants were released onto the course, Grylls himself ran with competitors, helping them through courses, as well as bringing his contagious energy for them to continue and to “never give up.”
Throughout the course, competitors had to run through a post-apocalyptic highway, swim through a cave complex, run through a “war torn” village, eat bugs and light a fire, just to name a few.
One of the most questioning of the courses and items were how and when to use the condom.
“Having a condom, you can carry up to a gallon of water, and transporting water is one of the toughest things in survival,” told Leitz.
Participants were then tasked to carry water with the condom, over a wooden log, without breaking it.
Additionally, competitors saw other courses and survival challenges as both fun and difficult.
“In general, the hardest part of this course was climbing up and down the mountains,” explained Brent Jeremih, a participant who finished the course. “In a cave, we had to jump in, use a glowstick, swim under and get out on the other side, but it was really fun.”
As competitors rounded the final corner, they were greeted by a man made slip-n-slide where they jetted down the hill into a giant pit of water, leading them to the finish line and a carabiner as a medal.
After racing, participants roamed the ranch, where they could enjoy complimentary cryotherapy, normatec compression and trigger point hyperice massage by the exclusive fitness sponsor UFC Gym as well as eat from a variety of food trucks, and enjoy a beer garden from the local Wolf Creek Brewery.