Podcast: Episode 101: Eco-Challenge Special: Insider Scoop with Danelle Ballengee and Rea Kolbl

Danelle Ballengee and Rea Kolbl

"The World's Toughest Race" - probably is!  After a 17 year absence, Bear Grylls brings back Eco-Challenge on steroids, with a massive budget and plenty of stories, all on a bigger and badder course.  The 417 miles on Fiji, included all kinds of paddling, trekking, biking, ropes, and wading through hypothermia-inducing cold water; the 66 teams were given 11 days to finish, and for 22 teams, that wasn't enough. The 10-part series on Amazon Prime is definitely worth watching. 

Danelle and Rea were there.  Both outstanding athletes, they provide us with great insights on E-C as they participated at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Danelle (Podcast #35) was on Team Endure, which garnered the most TV time of the entire show, as it featured her friends Mark Macy, who has done every single E-C and now has Alzheimer's disease, supported by his son and top racer Travis Macy.

"I just finished watching the show - I cried every time seeing Mark and Travis!" - REA

"It was really touching seeing Travis support his dad; to see the changing of the guard. I tried my best to stay away from cameras and did pretty good at that." - DANELLE

Rea (Podcast #75) was on Team Canada, which got no camera time, as the E-C staff had not heard of them.  Which was a big mistake, as they also had Ryan Atkins (18 FKTs and Podcast #73), who like Rea is a top Obstacle Course Racer. They finished a strong second.

"We were sort of a dark horse, as it was my and Ryan’s first adventure race so no one had much hope in us haha. I like to surprise people :-)"

"Rea is great!  And I thought they showed enough drama to interest the general public, but they also showed the lead teams to showcase the talent of the race."

And both have applied for E-C 2021, so stay tuned!  Rea will stick with her team, and now that Mark has retired, Team Endure will add their former AR teammate Dave Mackey!  Look out ... 

"We have unfinished business" - REA

"You have real talent. Race hard while you can. This is your time." - DANELLE

"There will be more sob stories filmed during E-C 2021 ... coming from teams losing to a guy with one leg!" - BB


Full CV

Danelle Ballengee

  • Age: 49
  • City of Residence: Moab, UT
  • Occupation: Self Employed (Mom, Event Coordinator, Caretaker, Landlord, Mortgage Lender, Youth Sports Coach)
  • Family: 2 sons-- Noah (12) and Will (9), two dogs-- Lucy (4, Goldendoodle) and Pele (8 months, Borador), and about a zillion fish (mostly Mollies)
  • Athletic Highlights:
    • 2012 Colorado Running Hall of Fame Inductee
    • 2005 Everest Award Winner, Adventure Sports 
    • 2002-2004 Adventure Racer of the Year 
    • 1999 U.S. Mountain Runner of the Year, USA Track and Field 
    • 1997 U.S. Professional Duathlete of the Year, Triathlete Magazine
    • 1995 Multisport Athlete of the Year, Inside Triathlon Magazine 
    • 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001 USA World Mountain Running Team Member 
    • 1993, 1994, 2005 Sportswoman of Colorado, Hall of Fame1996 Olympic Trials Qualifier, Marathon (2.49.01) 
    • 1993, 1994 Ultra-Distance National Champion, Triathlon 
    • 2000 Female FKT for Colorado’s 14,000 ft peaks
    • 10-time North American Snowshoe Champion (’94-’05); 3 years undefeated
    • 4-time Pikes Peak Marathon Champion
    • Other: Most recently I am proud to still be out competing and racing strong after a near-death accident, 2 kids, and the various other life challenges that have been thrown at me!
  • Social Media - - -
  • (Editor - don't miss these): 

Rea Kolbl

  • Age: 29
  • City of Residence: Denver, CO
  • Occupation: Professional athlete
  • Family: Boyfriend Roy, mom Duska and sister Jerneja (both living in Slovenia)
  • Athletic Highlights:
    • 2nd place at Eco-challenge Fiji (2019)
    • 1st place Spartan Ultra World Championship (24-hour obstacle course race, Sweden 2019)
    • 2x World’s Toughest Mudder Champion (Atlanta, GA 2018, Las Vegas, NV 2017)
    • 1st place at Audi Power of Four 52k sky race (2019)
    • 2nd place at The Broken arrow 52k skyrace (2018, 2019)
  • Other:
    • M.S. Materials Sci & Eng - Stanford University 2017
    • B.A. Astrophysics - UC Berkeley 2014
    • B.A. Physics, UC Berkeley 2014
  • Social Media - - -


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