Eric Martin '04 (left) on TNT's "72 Hours"
Self-proclaimed 'computer nerd' Eric Martin was perusing the pages of Craigslist one day in search of local theater gigs when something unexpected caught his eye. As if speaking directly to him, the ad on his computer screen read something along the lines of:
"Do you sit at a desk all day?"
Martin answered, "Yes."
"Do you like the outdoors, fishing and hunting?”"
The ski instructor and avid fisherman thought, "Yes."
"Do you long for adventure?"
Without a doubt, "Yes!"
What Martin inadvertently discovered was a casting call for contestants for TNT's adventure reality show "72 Hours." He responded to the ad with an email and much to his surprise he was asked to speak with producers via Skype.
According to the show's website, "72 Hours" drops off competing teams somewhere in the wilderness with nothing more than a GPS and a single bottle of water. It goes on to explain, "The teams will then have just three days to form strategic bonds, hike across treacherous terrain, battle the elements and make difficult survival choices, all in a quest to be the first to find a hidden briefcase full of $100,000 cash."
The show's producers liked what they saw in Martin and they flew him out to Burbank, California for one final round of interviews.
"When I got out there I did some on-camera interviews, met with a psychiatrist and got a full physical," he said. "I think they liked me mostly because they were looking for someone with my personality type."
A few weeks later, Martin got the call – he was in. With little details to go on, what he did know was that his challenge would take place somewhere in New Zealand.
"I was excited; I could cross that off my bucket list!" he said.
Martin was matched with two teammates, both adventure-seeking athletes named Michael and Marie, who would compete with him against two other teams for the $100,000 prize.
In the dramatic opening of the show, Martin and his teammates' 3-day challenge started by being dropped from a helicopter.
Eric Martin '04 (left) with his "72 Hours" cast mates
"The GPS had a specific waypoint programmed into it that we had to find," he said. "When we got there we would find a new GPS with a new destination and a supply drop."
The supply drops contained anything from ropes to food to a jug of water up for grabs.
"The first night it got really cold and all we had were the clothes on our back," said Martin. "We probably slept no more than 15 minutes at a time."
One of the more memorable physical challenges was on the second day when the group had to traverse on a rope, over a canyon, from one giant rock to another. At one point Martin stalled on the rope, his arms just too tired to go any further, and Michael had to come out and assist him across.
"There were many moments where I was so exhausted I just felt like I couldn't go on," he said. "But that was one of the main points of the show, to force us to really work as a team."
And work as a team they did. Martin confesses he was the least athletic of the group, maybe even considered 'the weakest link' at first glance, but it is clear that his level-headedness and problem-solving skills made him a valuable asset to the team.
"One thing I definitely learned was that it's okay to ask for help," he said. "I've always been independent, but this experience showed me that I shouldn't be too proud to allow someone to help me. I made friends, we formed bonds, and I let them help me."
One challenge at a time, Eric, Michael and Marie forged ahead to the final destination where they found themselves galloping on horseback across the beach with the two remaining teams hot on their trail.
"The GPS got us close to the prize, but we had to really search to find it," he said. "We were searching the beach and I saw something shiny in a cove which turned out to be the briefcase containing the money."
They may have come out on top, but for Martin, it was the experience that really made him a winner.
"Winning the money was just the icing on the cake," he said. "For me it was about going on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure."
Martin's episode of "72 Hours" aired on TNT on Thursday, June 13. Visit tntdrama.com to watch it online.