CHICAGO — You can’t miss Illinois native Coree Woltering — or his Speedos — on “World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji.”
“The Speedo became a thing back in (2016) when I was in Florida for a 50-kilometer race, and I forgot my racing shorts, but I had Speedos with me,” Woltering told the Tribune by phone. “I ended up winning that race, and the picture just went like viral on social media, and after that everyone was like, you have to race in a Speedo. That just became my thing.”
The 30-year-old professional trail and ultra runner packed several Speedos for the Eco-Challenge, an 11-day race over 416 miles of mountains, jungles, rivers and ocean. The event, which took place in September 2019, is documented on a 10-episode Amazon Prime Video series scheduled to premiere Friday.
The show is hosted by Bear Grylls and executive produced by Mark Burnett, who created the Eco-Challenge race series, which began in 1995 in Utah and ended in 2002 in Fiji. Lisa Hennessy, who grew up in Park Ridge and worked alongside Burnett on those early Eco-Challenges, serves as showrunner and executive producer of the Amazon reboot.
Technology changed a lot in the 17-year break between Eco-Challenges. Nearly 200 cameras were used to record last year’s race, including handheld cameras, GoPros, drones and time-lapse cameras. Hennessy said the five-member teams were outfitted with tracking devices that were monitored at race headquarters. Sixty-six teams from 30 countries competed in the race, which required paddling, canyoneering, sailing, climbing, swimming, mountain biking, building rafts, grabbing medallions and other skills.