Charlie The Eco-Challenger

Adventure Race Veteran Says Eco-Challenge Is <BR> Just As Hard As It Looks

Before producer Mark Burnett created Survivor, he created a televised adventure race called Eco-Challenge. In this year's Eco-Challenge, more than 70 teams endured a grueling 12-day trek through the jungles and beaches of Borneo.

One of the competitors, Charlie Engle, was given a camera by the CBS News program 48 Hours to document his personal journey.

Lugging around a one-pound camera was added baggage that few competitors would take on. "In a race where you're carrying a 40-pound pack for 10 or 12 days, that is significant," Engle told The Early Show's Jane Clayson in a recent interview.

"Mentally, it is much harder to think about trying to remember to take the camera out," said Engle. "And I told myself going into the race, I would bring it out at all the most difficult spots. And it was all difficult."

Though it is a competition, many do not enter to come in first. "People are not out there to win. The top teams are out there to win the race," explained Engle. "The rest of the teams are out there really just hoping to get through it."

Last year's race followed a 320-mile course through some of Borneo's toughest terrain. Engle withstood hunger, exhaustion and even blood-sucking leeches in his quest for the finish line.

Training for such an event can be just as grueling. "We'll go four or five days of mountain training if we're going into a particular race with altitude. It is more a mental sport than anything else, you know," said Engle of his team's workout regimen.

When he can't make it to the mountains, Engle said he creates a mountain of his own: "My kids thought I was really twisted because I would actually put on a... 50-pound pack and my mountaineering boots and get on the Stairmaster for eight or 10 hours and watch movies."

Engle is showing no signs of slowing down. He is planning a trip this October to New Zealand to compete in the next Eco-Challenge. To Engle, adventure racing is more than just a hobby, "it's really a way of life."

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