Mark Burnett Put Adventure Racing On The Map
Adventure racing remains one of the most challenging sports I have done. The terrain and the land and sea sports make racing quite thrilling.
And, of course, adventure racing is also an enormously engaging sport to watch as well. It inspires me to watch old races as I train.
What we often take for granted, however, are the promoters that put these races together.
I have to say that without the hard work and vision of the producers, promoters, and organizers, the world would not know about adventure racing.
I still describe adventure racing by saying Have you ever watched Eco-Challenge? Which brings us to Mark Burnett.
Mark Burnett is most important in the history of racing.
He was the man behind the development of the Eco-Challenge which is probably the most exciting and popular adventure race ever devised. For this alone, his life's work deserves a closer examination.
However, it is not just adventure racing that Burnett is known for. He has been considered one of the greatest names in the world of reality television programming.
Yes, there are a number of popular reality programs of dubious quality. However, the visionary work of Burnett has brought television viewers SURVIVOR and THE APPRENTICE which are among the most influential of all television reality programs.
But, it is probably adventure racing that is what made Burnett a popular name. Had he not come up with the concept for the Eco-Challenge in 1995, he probably would never have reached the heights of television popularity that he had.
It was the inclusion of the Eco-Challenge into the lineups of MTV, ESPN, The USA Network, and The Discovery Channel that opened television executives' eyes to Burnett and later laid the foundation for his reality program success.
This is not a bad life for a man who began with humble beginnings having been born to London factory workers in 1960.
Burnett would join the British Army as he got older and this would assuredly play a role in his desire to take part in the active things in life.
In 1991, Mark Burnett was reading the LA Times when he came across an article covering an exciting French Race called the Raid Gauloises which involved team races that took place in exotic locations under brutal conditions.
He entered The Raid in 1992.
This was certainly not a new concept for many parts of the world, but it was unheard of in America. At the time, the X-Games were growing in popularity and Burnett realized that an amazing, difficult race would surely capture the imagination of those that enjoyed exciting alternative sports.
From this, the concept of the Eco-Challenge was born. Initially, he would bring an American team to the Raid Gauloises as a stepping stone to developing his own race. Success with his American team was mixed but it laid the foundation for the Eco-Challenge.
The first Eco-Challenge debuted in 1995 and it originated as a MTV special that took place in the rough conditions of the Utah desert.
The race was a mix of various land and water excursions that required a tremendous amount of athletic aptitude and commitment from the participants. The race ran through the night for days at a time.
The race certainly caught many fans of X Sports by surprise and a new genre was born in the USA. Soon, the Eco-Challenge would move out of the limited audience of MTV and to cable networks with wider and more diverse reaches and audience.
This further helped cement the popularity of the Eco-Challenge as one of the top races in the adventure team sports world.
Having achieved great success with the Eco-Challenge, Burnett expanded his horizons and this is where he explored other options with producing reality television.
Considering the success of SURVIVOR and THE APPRENTICE, you could say he made a wise move. He is involved in various other projects that are competing for his time and that is why he has put the Eco-Challenge on hiatus.
There are simply only so many hours in the day and Burnett must pick and choose his productions. He has offered to sell the rights to the Eco-Challenge to another party.
Whatever his ultimate decision may be, it would be true to say that Mark Burnett remains one of the all-time legendary names in the world of adventure racing. If there ever is a Hall of Fame for such a sport, Burnett will be a clear induction.