Team Bend Racing, a competitive adventure racing team that competes worldwide, is one of the featured teams on an Amazon Prime Video show that premiered last week.
The 10-episode show chronicles a 671-kilometer race that includes five legs — ocean, jungle, river, highland and island — with 66 adventure racing teams representing 30 different countries. “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji” was created by Mark Burnett (who also created Survivor) and is hosted by Bear Grylls, the renowned host of the survival show “Man vs. Wild.”
Adventure racing is a multidisciplinary sport that includes running, mountain biking, paddling, hiking, and climbing.
The teams must rely on their navigational skills to race through the rugged terrain as quickly as possible as there is no specific course to take, but merely a start and finish line.
Bend Racing has been training year-round in Bend since 2010 and has raced the professional circuit since 2014.
Taking on the climate of Fiji proved to be the most daunting challenge in this race.
One of the premier adventure racing teams globally, Team Bend Racing made an immediate impact on the race when it won the first stage of the competition. But during the second leg, team member Dan Staudigel suffered heatstroke, dropping the team from the top of the podium to one of the lowest-ranked teams within a day. Still, the team pushed on.
“The real challenge for us was going too hard out of the gate and me getting heatstroke,” Staudigel said. “That was really the thing that could have ended our race.”
But that was just part of the racing experience — especially in Fiji.
“We moved to Bend to train year-round for this but nothing can prepare you for Fiji in Central Oregon,” said Jason Magness, the team’s captain. “The biggest surprise was that we had to do a big climbing section up a waterfall. It’s Fiji, but the water is so cold and a couple of people, including myself, got hypothermia. You spent days of having heat exhaustion and dealing with the heat, then all of a sudden we can’t keep ourselves warm. That was definitely interesting.”
The race took place nearly a year ago in September 2019. While the team is accustomed to racing with camera crews tracking them, the Amazon Prime production was much more expansive for filming a reality television show.
“They had way more cameras, and the amount of production and the logistical side of it being promoted was amazing,” Staudigel said. “But it was just a race. There were no re-shoots, or asking us to say something again. It was very real. They had a big budget because Amazon was footing the bill so it felt like a real production. They had tons of helicopters, a safety team. It was just a really well-run race because they knew what they were doing.”
Other Team Bend Racing members include Melissa Coombes, Stephen Thompson and Darren Steinbach.
Since the show premiered last week, Magness and Staudigel have slowly been watching the series, which at times has been frustrating because it makes them relive the errors that they made in the jungle, like when the team made a miscalculation on the route and ended up going the wrong way.
“It is hard to watch us make the mistakes again and to see them played out in front of the whole world is pretty tough,” Staudigel said. “The response has been great because people want to see challenges and people overcoming challenges.”
The show also provides an up-close look at a sport that mostly flies under the radar.
“More than anything the show was able to capture some of the human drama,” Staudigel said, “the real part of the sport.”