MASON TOWNSHIP — After competing in more than 25 extreme adventure races, Tracyn Thayer figured she’d collectively spent a year’s worth of nights in the woods. But not like this.

Tracyn Thayer from Mason Township competed in the Outdoor Channel’s reality show “The Brigade: Race to the Hudson,” which debuts April 22. Photo courtesy Outdoor Channel

Last summer, the 49-year-old joined nine strangers trekking 750 miles through the Canadian woods, through whitewater and over mountains, for the new Outdoor Channel reality show “The Brigade: Race to the Hudson.”

The goal: Reach the finish line in 28 days and they split half a million dollars.

“Never have I done anything this long not controlling the factor of who my teammates are, where exactly we’re going and having so many people have so much say in decision-making,” said Thayer, who lives in Mason Township with two sons and works part-time at Sunday River Resort in Newry.

How many reached the finish line — or even if any reached the finish line — won’t be clear until the show debuts April 22.

Thayer, who grew up in Cumberland, started trying out for the new show in April 2018. She works out an hour or two each day and has a long history of competing in and captaining adventure races around the world, many of them multiday, nonstop.

She knew only that “The Brigade” challenge would have 10 people following part of the old York Factory Express.

“We were told generally that we were going to be following this historical fur trader route, but it was still really hard to figure out where to go,” she said. “Even if we had figured it out, we still had to do it.”

Contestants operated without GPS and they also handed over their phones.

“There was no way for us to communicate outside,” Thayer said. “As hard as that was not to have that communication, it’s really rare in your life that you can focus on a task. It was so great not to have that distraction.”

Unlike “Survivor” or “Amazing Race,” this trek didn’t have any challenges. And no one was voted off. The race was the challenge, said Tom Caraccioli, vice president of communications at the Outdoor Sportsman Group.

“It was a brutal trek,” he said. “It’s stunningly gorgeous, but you can also see that this was a really, really difficult adventure and anybody who is interested in outdoor adventure and outdoor expedition will be drawn to this.”

To make it a little easier, seven caches of food and supplies were left along the route.

Thayer, who left her job as a festival manager for the Spartan Race right before filming, said she’s glad she did it.

“Just to experience Canada in a kind of slo-mo kind of way, was amazing and the people and the challenge and just the uniqueness of the journey … I’ve never experienced anything like it,” she said. “I was the second-oldest person, the oldest-woman on there. I feel grateful for the life experiences I’ve had and I think that gave me some confidence. We’ll have to see what others have to say.”

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The cast of the Outdoor Channel’s new show “The Brigade: Race to the Hudson.” The group of 10 strangers had 28 days to finish a 750-mile trek through Canada. The show debuts April 22. (Photo courtesy Outdoor Channel)

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