An ultimate survival challenge

Can you survive in six lethal environments over the course of 60 days?

This was the main question asked to the six brave hearts participating in Discovery Channel’s new adventure series The Wheel, which premieres next week.

The show challenges participants to survive in six distinctly grueling landscapes across South America. With every turn of the wheel, each survivalist is dropped into a new isolated location, exposed to the world’s deadliest terrains including freezing tundra, rugged mountains and treacherous rainforest.

The participants are not typical survival experts, but rather everyday people with something to prove. Unbeknownst to them, the wheel is a mechanism that mirrors the lunar calendar. With every phase of the moon, the wheel will turn and send each person to a new eco-zone. The amount of time at each location is revealed only to viewers, leaving the survivors to agonize and obsess over when the wheel will spin again. As every rotation thrusts them—without warning —into a new harrowing domain, participants are completely at the wheel’s mercy.

Manila Standard had a chance to delve into the psyche of some of the participants to the show to know how dangerous, challenging and unpredictable the survival series was.

According to Luke Soderling, a plumber from Gilbert, Minnesota, who is also a cancer survivor, the emotional fact of missing his family was the hardest part of embarking on this challenging and thrilling journey.

“It was very difficult to be away from them and to think about them and not become preoccupied by that, I had to consciously put my game face on and focus on what I had to do and no longer think about my family,” Soderling admitted.

For Shon Joyner, a former Marine from Indianapolis, Indiana, he felt like he was being challenged mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically everyday going about his tasks.

“Sometimes I would wake up in the morning and I will feel good physically and then weaken at certain aspect and then sometimes I would feel horrible physically, and then I will feel great of something else,” he said.

The cast of Discovery Channel’s adventure series ‘The Wheel’  

Apart from being away from their family, both participants also discussed about having no contact with the rest of the world. For 60 days, they were back to basics without using any kind of technology except for light survival packs and SOS devices that can be used at any time to quit the challenge and call for help. Also, they must fend for their lives by procuring food, water and shelter.

“It was a tremendous culture shock, used to having a relatively easy life. My routine exists of or consists of waking up hungry and spending hours before I could eventually even eat and it was very-very different, it was incredibly raw in this row, it was amazing experience,” Soderling recalled and added that he somehow felt good without technology by his side.

“It stripped away all the superficial things that we spend our time on and waste time on. I regret every minute I spent on my phone when I could have been with my kids.”

One of the challenges, Joyner pointed out, is that the show is entirely new. They battle the elements and their own mental stamina without any idea how the show would really end or what challenges would come next.

“It brought a lot of pressure. If there would have been a season before us we could have seen how everything worked a little bit and I think it would have given us all a little bit more of an advantage,” the former Marine noted.

Soderling and Joyner feel privileged that they became part of the show as it gave them a whole new experience and tested their abilities.

“From the experience, mother nature definitely humbled me and you know you can plan as much as you want of how you think you are going to live in the wilderness but when weather gets thrown at you, when you have certain things happen to you with the animals or predators in the area definitely gained a whole new respect for mother nature,” Joyner ended.

The Wheel premieres on April 11 at 9 p.m. on Discovery Channel.

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