Q&A: the Men of Animal Planet’s 100 Miles From Nowhere

 


Animal Planet’s newest series, 100 Miles From Nowhere, doesn’t involve animals, though that depends on your definition of animal because we’d argue that the stars of the show are exactly that—in the best way, of course. 

100 Miles From Nowhere is entirely self-documented by Matt Galland (38), Danny Bryson (36) and Blake Josephson (39), three friends who traverse some of the most precarious and stunning locations around the world. They spend four days in each of eight separate locations—Hawaii, Mexico, Idaho, Belize, Arizona, Oregon, Chile and Utah (in no particular order)—trekking nearly 100 miles in each one and burning up to 10,000 calories running, rafting, skiing, even skateboarding to get to their survival bear box at the end of each day. All of their incredible journeys are a test of human endurance, mental fortitude, and guts (if not a shameless disregard for self-preservation.)

Don’t miss this all-new, adrenaline-packed series coming to Animal Planet Sunday, April 5, at 10 PM ET/PT. To view the schedule and watch episodes, go here. Watch a sneak peak now and catch our exclusive interview with the guys who reveal what it takes to accomplish a mental and physical feat of this magnitude, how they prepared for the show, and some of the obstacles they faced while shooting. 

 

MEN’S FITNESS: What made you guys want to do this? Was this one person’s idea or something you thought up collectively?

MG: We’ve all been outdoorsy guys our whole lives. But for the last five years, I did a YouTube channel and it kind of got traction—enough where a lot of people started to see it, and it got picked up. We look for crazy places in the world to travel to—to do something really big and grand. Mostly we run because it’s the fastest way to get from place to place. We also do a lot of intensive rock climbing, white water rafting, and skiing.

MEN’S FITNESS: Can you give us a run-down of the series?

MG: We go four days at a time on these journeys and there are eight of them, so basically we’re going to have 32 days throughout the season. We carry cameras the whole time and we’re up on our feet up to 14 hours a day. Our biggest day on bike was about 65 miles and I think our biggest day running was around 30 miles, but we average about 25 miles a day. 

MEN’S FITNESS: How do you guys endure this kind of mileage day-in and day-out? 

BJ: It took years and years to build up to this. And then the other part of that is we have to eat a lot to keep our bodies going. We eat a lot of crappy food, candy bars, stuff that Men’s Fitness would not like, but it’s the only way to get those calories in us. 

MG: It’s a basic science. We’re burning up to 10,000 calories on our biggest days, and we need to replace those calories. At the end of each day, we reach a giant box that we call the ‘bear box,’ which is dropped off in a pre-determined location. We’ve had pizzas in there, donuts, fish…we have thousands of calories in that box. It gets us from one day to the next.  

Five Ultramarathon Races You’d Be Crazy to Run >>>

MEN’S FITNESS: Do you all have background experience with backpacking and endurance races?

MG: We’ve done this our whole lives, but I don’t think anyone can just jump in and do what we do. You build up this endurance to withstand pain and long hours on your feet. Danny and I have done big races together before. Our biggest was 100 miles in one day and that took us roughly 27 hours of straight running. Then we’ve gone down to 50-milers, 26-milers, and they’re all in the mountains—rough-terrains. We were ready for this show. We didn’t really have to prepare. We’d already been doing this our whole lives. 

MEN’S FITNESS: Did you ever have moments where you really had to push past mental or physical blocks?

DB: Oh, yeah. I would say every time you go out on those kind of distances there’s always some wall you have to climb up and over. When Matt and I ran the 100-mile race, the one thing I wasn’t aware of was the salt you have to take in. Around mile 50 I was puking, I had lost something like 15 or 16 pounds of water weight, but luckily Matt was running with a guy who knew more about the physiology of running; he got me back up and, slowly, I started walking and running again. 

BJ: Yeah, I hit that point like every 10 minutes. Everything hard that I’ve ever done, I’ve wanted to quit at some point or thought about quitting but we just never have. I just don’t think it’s in us to quit. None of us would give up. We’d die first before we gave up on one of these adventures, because we just have a goal in mind and we’re just going to keep going until we make it. 

DB: In this last episode we just filmed down in Patagonia, we had a 30-mile day with 12,000 feet of climbing and we climbed all the way up and realized we couldn’t make it over the path to our bear box. And I would bet that if you asked any of us: ‘Would you want a helicopter to come and pick you up?’ I would have guessed that most of us would have said ‘Yes! Send me Harrison Ford in a helicopter!’ It’s fun, but it definitely comes at a price. 

MEN’S FITNESS: Do you guys rely on each other to stay focused and motivated?

MG: It’s kind of nice to be able to look into your friend’s eyes and be like ‘Are you feeling like crap?’ and they nod yes and you look at the other buddy and they nod ‘Yes.’ It’s nice confirmation to think, ‘Alright, this must be really crappy ‘cause everyone’s feeling it right now.’ If you’re an ultra runner, I know this is weird, but you kind of enjoy pain because when you’re feeling pain, you feel tough and you know you’re accomplishing something big. Me personally, at 20 miles, there’s something really enjoyable about feeling totally exhausted—your legs are aching, you’re just at the end of your rope and you want to be home more than anything. It’s a successful moment. You’re like ‘Yes, I’m wasted. Yes, I feel like crap. Yes, this is horrible. Yes, my feet hurt, my hands, I’m going to throw up. But, is this totally awesome? Yes.’ This is why we do this. You know you’re doing something cool and worthwhile that no one else could do, because if you’re feeling awesome, anyone else can probably do it.

Running Tips for Beginners from Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes >>>

MEN’S FITNESS: Have you guys had any close calls or accidents? 

MG: Blake and I sleeping in the tent together was a pretty close call. Just kidding! We’ve had bees come after us. Blake almost drowned in a river. I think one of my most worrisome moments could have been going through Mexico in an unexplored canyon that we couldn’t get out of. We spotted a rope dangling out for our exit point—the crew who drops off our bear boxes knew we’d be coming down the river and set up a way for us to retrieve it—and I think about that rope still and think ‘Gosh, if we hadn’t seen that, it would have been for sure a couple of more days, completely on our own, without any food, after being completely exhausted.’

When we were in Belize, it had gotten dark and we were seeing snakes all over the place and one of the most poisonous snakes in the jungle, a coral snake, just went right over Danny’s feet. I think we had four hours until you lost your leg if one of us had gotten bit. And in Idaho, we were in a white-out storm and you couldn’t even see a few feet in front of your face. We were in cliffy country and we thought: ‘Does a helicopter come get you?’ No. A helicopter might get you when the clouds dissipate a couple of days later. So we understand there is definitely risk, but kind of like everything in life, you’ve got to calculate your risk and see what’s worth it. We’ve done this our whole lives so we feel a heck of a lot more comfortable than a lot of other people would feel in that situation. Being up on the mountains, in the middle of the night, spending the night in a snowstorm would probably feel quite comfortable for us. 

DB: As long as you’re the one in middle of the manwhich!

MEN’S FITNESS: How did you all figure the locations you wanted to travel to? 

DB: We all proposed a number of places that we thought would be ideal. Then the next step was for production to go out and get the actual permits. Turns out getting a permit through federal land is harder than running 30 miles. We couldn’t go to Zion Valley, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon—you name a national park and we tried it. 

MEN’S FITNESS: How is 100 Miles From Nowhere different from shows like Survivor or The Amazing Race

MG: The best part is this doesn’t feel produced. We do whatever we want to do. Sometimes we’re extra goofy. And sometimes we just want to survive and it’s kind of nice not having a producer say, ‘You guys are about to die, film this! We are literally out in the middle of nowhere with just three Sony Handycams and GoPro cameras. We have all the freedom in the world. I mean it’s just a dream come true to do this. It’s kind of funny because none of us are professional cameramen so a lot of time we’re trying to figure these cameras out on the way. On the path from the Patagonia, here we have a 30-mile day ahead of us—12,000 vertical feet—and we spend the first 45 minutes of the day trying to figure out Danny’s mic pack. We can survive out in the middle of nowhere, we can handle wild animals, big cliffs, freezing cold water, running straight up a mountain, but then we’re scratching our heads like monkeys trying to figure out this little device. So it’s kind of funny this little battle we have with these cameras every once in a while, but it’s so worth it for us to share it with people.

10 Best Trail Running Shoes >>>

MEN’S FITNESS: What are each of your favorite destinations or moments?

BJ: There’s a place called the Arch of Time in Mexico. We didn’t see a single person the whole entire adventure. We were in inflatable kayaks going under this gigantic arch the river goes right through, and it seemed like a place I didn’t even know existed—absolutely gorgeous. I was blown away by how beautiful it was. Mexico was my favorite destination. 

DB: Patagonia—that 30-mile run we did with 12,000 feet of climbing—it felt like when we were way up there that we were in one of those extreme locations you just don’t often find yourself in. It was one of the more memorable moments—definitely a high for me. 

MG: Mine was in Idaho. It was called the River of No Return Wilderness, and none of us had been there before. We started the first 16 miles in a complete whiteout. So we run the first part of our adventure with zero visibility, and even though we are 16 miles into an adventure, we haven’t seen it yet. It’s as vivid as a blank piece of white paper for hours and hours. And the sun was about to set when all of a sudden the clouds cleared and we were in this white winter wonderland and there were about six or seven sets of fresh wolf tracks. It was at that moment that I was like, “This is why we do this.” We’re in a place we’ve never seen before, we’re 30 miles out from the nearest road, and you’re just with your two best friends looking at wolf tracks. It was kind of like that 12-year-old kid moment: I’m with my friends doing cool stuff and seeing neat things. 

MEN’S FITNESS: What are some tips you can give readers from past mistakes you’ve all made during races, backpacking, etc?

DB: I had a cycling coach that said “Eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty.” I feel like that really applies to what we do, because if you’re eating when you’re hungry, sometimes it’s too late. 

MG: I always say: “The only way up is up, and the only way through it is through it.” When I ran my 100-miler, I was eating, I was drinking, I had slept, I was trained, I had done everything that scientifically you can do, but then I had to leave the science behind and get inside my head because now it’s the mental game. There is no real magic science to it, it’s just hard work to put your head down and just go. 

BJ: It is so worth the money to buy the right gear for the adventure—the nice gear. Instead of having wet feet all day, get Gortex shoes. Buy gear that will make all the difference. And then the second thing would be that when it gets tough, just think about how lucky you are to be able to do this. Not very many people get to do this cool stuff, and see these places. So if I have to put up with discomfort to do it, it’s totally worth it. 

10 Most Rugged Trail Running Spots in the U.S. >>>