The New Season of ‘Running Wild with Bear Grylls’ Premieres on NatGeo TV

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Adventuring in the wild, untamed outdoors is a great way to experience the natural beauty of our world while also testing one’s limits, both physical and mental. It can prove to yourself an ability to do hard things. Then after overcoming difficult challenges, nature provides a great opportunity to reflect and share about life experiences with those who journeyed with you through these adventures. As a Boy Scout in my youth, and a Scout leader as an adult, I have enjoyed working with young people and encouraging them to achieve things they did not think possible. However, gathering around the campfire at the end of the day and listening to them open up with one another and bond made all the effort worth it. Running Wild with Bear Grylls follows that same concept while letting the viewer share the experience from the safety and comfort of their  home or other viewing location. 

Running Wild with Bear Grylls is a series of television shows in which the host, Bear Grylls, takes celebrities on outdoor high adventures that pushes them to their physical limits. The latest season premieres Monday, March 29th at 9pm ET/ 8pm CT on the National Geographic Channel. Bear Grylls spent three years as a soldier in the British Special Forces as part of 21st SAS Regiment. He was also one of the youngest climbers to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Bear has hosted a number of different extreme adventure shows including seven seasons of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy award-nominated Man vs. Wild TV series, which became one of the most watched shows on the planet, reaching an estimated 1.2 billion viewers. Running Wild with Bear Grylls was developed by Bear Grylls and Delbert Shoopman. The series is produced by Electus, a Propagate Company and The Natural Studios, with Bear Grylls serving as an executive producer.

Bear Grylls and Anthony Mackie make it to the top of the via ferrata. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

For this new season of Running Wild with Bear Grylls, the host takes eight different people around the world for some exciting adventures. The season opens with Anthony Mackie who currently stars in the new Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Bear takes Anthony to new heights in the Italian Dolomite Mountains. In subsequent episodes, viewers will see former NFL player and current actor Terry Crews in the Icelandic Highlands; racing driver Danica Patrick and actor Danny Trejo on separate adventures in Utah’s Moab Desert; actor Rainn Wilson in Utah’s La Sal Mountains; actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key in the Icelandic Lava Fields; TV and radio personality Bobby Bones and fiancé Caitlin Parker in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Each of these breath-takingly scenic environments offers difficult and sometimes dangerous challenges for Bear and his guests while also providing opportunities for insight into the lives of the guests.

Terry Crews and Bear Grylls get dropped atop an Icelandic peak to begin their journey. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Interview With Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls was kind enough to answer several of my questions. I was surprised at many of his responses. 

Michael: How involved are you with choosing the celebrity guests?

Bear: We are super lucky on Running Wild to have attracted so many of the top stars, from President Obama, to Julia Roberts, Ben Stiller, and so many more. Many of them ask to join and want to go through the adventure. It is a reminder to me that these stars don’t do it for the money or fame but for the positive experience that only the wild places can give us. I love that.

Bear Grylls and Rainn Wilson wait to be picked up after their journey. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Michael: What influences your decisions on the locations where you take your guests?

Bear: There are a few factors that go into location selection. We have a great team that researches and finds the most scenic and unique locations that are also accessible, smart, and safe for our guests and crew. Also, because of the varying COVID restrictions in different countries, we had to find locations that were safe and accessible in terms of travel. More and more nowadays we double up in locations, and that also feels the responsible thing to do, trying to limit the amount of global travel and footprint we have as a production.

Michael: What goes into the decision of how to pair up guests with locations?

Bear: It more comes down to coordinating the dates between us and the stars, and finding locations that are going to make it achievable for the stars in their time frame. We sometimes go to near where they live or are filming, unless they particularly want to go somewhere else, in which case we try to make that happen.

Danica Patrick makes her way across a Tyrolean Traverse. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Michael: Have you already done a walkthrough/trial of the routes you take from insertion to extraction before you take the guest along it?

Bear: I will almost always try and do an aerial scout of the proposed route by chopper, so I can at least get a feel for the terrain. But generally we try and keep it to having a planned infil point and several extraction options for the end. That then allows us along the way to improvise and make decisions depending on how the stars are doing physically. Every journey ends up adapting a little, and I like that. It keeps it all spontaneous.

Michael: What were some of your favorite moments from this most recent season?

Bear: Definitely the 3000 foot big wall cliff base jump into the Anthony Mackie adventure. That was the biggest, most dangerous stunt we have ever done on the show.

Michael: Will you describe some unexpected challenges you faced during this season?

Bear: When you’re working in nature, there are always unexpected things that happen, but that’s just the wild for you. During the adventure with Terry Crews, we almost got swept away by rapids. Terry was especially nervous beforehand of the power of that glacial ice river, especially considering how cold we were both were at that point. But his strength saved the day and we got through it. Also, the weather is always a huge variable when it comes to filming and exploring. Bad weather can mean a tough journey can become an epic journey very fast! That has happened many times on this show.

Bear Grylls and Keegan-Michael Key get ready to eat some seagull. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Michael: Is there anything you would like viewers to know about you or your show?

Bear: The stars and the viewers are often surprised at how small our team on the ground is. It is me, the guest, two cameras and sound, some safety team to help with the crew access, plus a few coils of rope -and that’s basically it. Then we just go. The stars often can’t believe how fast we move and how we improvise and figure it all out as we go along. I think sometimes they are expecting catering services or something to suddenly appear. That often makes us chuckle. But the speed and spontaneity for me is the fun part.

Michael: Why should people who have never watched Running Wild with Bear Grylls tune in for this season?

Bear: To be inspired by the wild remote places of our planet and to see their favorite stars in a totally unguarded and revealing way, talking about the stuff that really matters in life, rather than just promoting some movie!

Bear Grylls and Danny Trejo chat in the shade. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)

Be Sure to See Running Wild with Bear Grylls

I am grateful for Bear Grylls taking the time to answer my questions. His responses helped me appreciate this series even more. I had the opportunity to screen a few of the episodes from this season in advance. I really enjoy the beautiful natural settings where Bear takes his guests and the knowledge he shares to help them get to the end of their treks. However, my favorite part of this series is gaining a glimpse into the personal lives of the guests. As they are overcoming physical challenges during the show, they also share how they have overcome personal challenges in their lives. I can’t wait to view the rest of this season’s episodes. Be sure to watch this seasons first episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls featuring Anthony Mackie on the National Geographic channel when it premieres on Monday, March 29th at 9pm ET/ 8pm CT. 

Bear Grylls shows Bobby Bones and Caitlin Parker how to start a fire. (National Geographic/Ben Simms)
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