Tracyn Thayer,  Photo Courtesy of the Outdoor Channel

REGION — Tracyn Thayer has always loved the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, paddling, cycling or a doing something that involves all three, it’s where she likes to be most of the time.

Last year her outdoor experience was taken to another level.

The Mason Township resident was one of 10 participants to compete in the Outdoor Channel’s original series The Brigade: Race to the Hudson, which will be premiering on Monday, April 22 at 8 p.m. The Gem Theater will be showing the premiere.

The eight-episode series focuses on a “cooperative competition that forces participants to work together as they travel over 750 miles across the York Factory Express – an historic fur trade route legendary for its danger, isolation and beauty.” The 10 strangers paddled, portaged and hiked through tough terrain and waterways, with the $500,000 prize awaiting them at their destination (Hudson Bay, Manitoba). The challenge: only 28 days to conquer the numerous waterways and mountains, along with no GPS and limited food supply.

The only thing they had was an iPad with a map program. Other applications on the device were locked. Thayer said they had to keep solar panels charged to make sure the device worked.

Thayer has background in expedition adventure racing, which is a “multi-disciplinary team event involving map and compass navigation over an unmarked wilderness course.”  The event can last anywhere from 5-11 days and requires many different skills. Hiking/running, mountain biking, rope work and some kind of paddling (canoeing, kayaking, rafting, sailing,) are part of the event. Thayer said sometimes scuba and horseback riding are included.


“I am an outdoor person,” she said.

Her journey to this point started in Cumberland, where she grew up.

She attended college at Colorado School of Mines, earning a degree in geophysical engineering.

After school, she worked offshore in Louisiana and worked a couple years on land in Arkansas with a seismic specialist engineer. While Thayer enjoyed her job, her mind was steering toward something more outdoor oriented.

A friend suggested that Thayer take a white water kayaking class in North Carolina. She liked the idea. She became a raft guide, and the career change helped pave the way for other opportunities. She did her first adventure races as a result of someone she met while being a guide.

She first learned of the Brigade when an old clothing sponsor contacted her about a year ago. He told her he had gotten a call from a casting director asking if he knew anyone who would be a good fit for the Brigade. Thayer’s name popped into his head. He gave her name to the director.


Thayer got the information and applied. After making it through the first round of cuts, Thayer had to answer hundreds of questions regarding her mental toughness and also had to visit the doctor to confirm that she was physically fit enough to compete. She got through both processes and learned soon after she had made the final 20.

In June, she got a call asking her to be part of the Brigade and said “yes” immediately.

As was the case when she learned she had made the final 20, Thayer could not tell anyone the good news. She signed a contract saying that she would not disclose certain information.

The competition was filmed over the summer.

Thayer had to be tight-lipped from June until February, when the cast was announced.

With the premiere approaching, Thayer could only release certain details about her experience in the competition.


“We can’t talk about who made it or not, if I made it or not,” she said.

“It was different, I knew physically I was pretty qualified to do it, but not knowing how we would all mesh together or not mesh together, or how people were going to deal with being hungry and stressed and tired. I think that was the biggest challenge of the whole thing.”

There’s eight episodes total.

Online reservations for tickets will be available this week at the Gem Theater.

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