The Nature Island Challenge

The Dominica Nature Island Challenge is a one of-a-kind adventure challenge designed to showcase the natural beauty of Dominica as well as the power of exploration and discovery. Teams from different countries travel to the island to compete in the annual event, this year in April of 2014. Together they are challenged to traverse great distances, interact with islanders and experience local sports and culture first hand.
About Dominica:
Known as the "Nature Island”, Dominica is one of the Caribbean's true hidden gems. Set in the heart of the island the 115 mile Waitukubuli National Trail is the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean.
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Filmed over the course of 4 days in April, the second staging of Dominica’s Nature Island Challenge featured Teams from Dominica, Trinidad and the USA competing in an island-wide endurance race.

There are a number opportunities to watch the show both on TV and online.

  • On Saturday June 21st  NBC Sports features an 8 minute highlight of the event, 
  • Outside Television presents the 1-hour version of the show on June 27th at 10 pm and again on June 28th at 1pm ET.
    (For any changes to the Schedule see Outside TV’s Schedule). Note that in order to see Outside Television you may need to request it from your TV provider (see the Outside TV website for details).
  • Outside Television will also be airing the show in July:
    July 4th at 5 pm
    July 5th at 5 am
    July 12th at 9 pm & 12 am
    July 13th at 12:30 pm
  • On June 30th at 5pm ET Universal Sports Network (see http://universalsports.com/) will also feature the 1-hour show.

See the trailer video for a taste of the Nature Island Challenge.

Stay tuned for information on local and regional airing!

It will also be available in segments on our YouTube channel.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates! 

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It is just over a week since the Nature Island Challenge concluded. By now the athletes are recovered, back at their daily lives of work, family and friends. And we are all remembering the event and the new friends it generated.

During four days in April, the Nature Island Challenge participants traversed mountains and rivers, ran through thick rainforest, farmlands, villages and the Kalinago Territory. While we have never claimed to be the world’s toughest endurance event, the 50 miles of trails and 12,000 ft of ascent in four short days was not for the faint of heart. This year’s runners were not assaulted by the driving tropical storms of last year; instead they were faced with oppressive heat and searing sun which was even harder to overcome. Teams were struck down with cramps, twisted ankles, blisters, minor dehydration and various other ails. So why would the teams put themselves through this?

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                Team USA hi fives Trinidad Red as they pass by.

Believe it or not, every contestant will remember this event with a smile and fond memories of the fun that was had along the way. The support of fellow team mates was an integral part of each team’s success, as a strong team is one that works together. But what might have surprised many was the support and encouragement of the competing teams. Make no mistake, all teams were in Dominica to win the challenge, but along the way friendships and linkages were made across borders and countries.

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                  Teams applaud as a team finishes a challenge

Dominica has a reputation as one the most genuine, friendly countries in the region and at every turn the runners were greeted by friendly faces and cheering schoolchildren. Was it the very essence of Dominica that infected the contestants and created these bonds? Or was it the bond of testing themselves against our rainforests and mountains? I think it was all of the above, and the fact that our teams were made up of the very best of sports men and sports women. 

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Looking back on the week I think only of the positive: the laughter, the encouragement, and the determination to finish each day no matter the challenges; the good humour in the mini and major challenges; and the creativity in the photo challenges.

Most importantly, even more people have fallen in love with this unique country of Dominica. We know that they will return, and hope they use the World Creole Music Festival tickets they won as a reason to come back in October!

On our side, the debriefing is under way. How can we make the event better next year? What did we learn from this year? How do we ensure that we achieve such great camaraderie between teams once again?

We would welcome back the teams from the Nature Island Challenge 2.0 and look forward to making new friends next year!

Save the Date: Nature Island Challenge 3.0 is April 13th to 17th, 2015

Apply here.

NIC Day 4 began in the heights of Colihaut on Segment 10 of the WNT (located on Dominica’s west coast). Although today’s race was only 11 miles long with an elevation of 2,500 ft, there were tired legs, blistered feet and cramped muscles at the starting line.

But as always with this group, spirits were high and everyone was excited to begin the last day of the Nature Island Challenge.

An hour’s run brought the racers to their first mini challenge: make local grapefruit juice. After squeezing lots of grapefruits, Trinidad White remained in the lead and set off down the trail on WNT Segment 11. Not far behind were Dominica Green, Trinidad Red and then USA Blue.

Next up was a slightly shorter run that led to a suspension bridge, where the athletes had to simulate a traditional children’s game of lime and spoon. Despite a bouncing and swaying bridge the teams were barely slowed and zipped across the bridge, disappearing over the ridge onto the next section of the race.

This was the longest stretch of the day and the last leg of the race. It may not have been the hardest trail to complete, but mentally it was the most challenging for our tired contestants.

Nearly three hours later they arrived at the last and final mini challenge of the week: make the Indian River’s famous ‘Dynamite Punch’ at The Bush Bar. Teams were given all of the ingredients but had to decide on the quantities required to make the best tasting rum punch.

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Just a short sprint away was the finish line and once again the dominant team was Trinidad White, crossing the line first, followed by Dominica Green, Trinidad Red and USA Blue.

After a short boat ride down the Indian River and a quick bus journey, everybody arrived in Portsmouth for the final major challenge of the week - one that could easily be the deciding factor in determining this year’s victorious team.

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Today’s major challenge was a cricket match, where each team member had to face 6 balls from the Portsmouth Secondary School Cricket Team; the objective was simple, score runs. 

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Overseeing this challenge was Dominica’s famous umpire Mr Billy Doctrove. The unconventional cricket match may have proven to be the most entertaining game of his distinguished career.

After much flailing, falling, flapping, forgetting to run, forgetting to bat, even some dropping of the cricket bat, Dominica stepped up and knocked a few sixes out of the park to claim their third major challenge win.

What a great week it has been! The athletes have shown strength and courage beyond expectations, while participants, staff, and on-lookers alike have all had tremendous fun!

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So after 4 days of running the trails of Dominica, facing mini and major challenges the results are in.

Final Scores:

  • Team Trinidad White: 220
  • Team Trinidad Red: 215
  • Team USA Blue: 205
  • Team Dominica Green: 195

Congratulations to Team Trinidad White for a hard earned victories.

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NIC Day 3 started with a buzz of excitement in the air as the race was proving to be a very tight competition.

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Today’s trail was expected to be the hardest, containing both the longest distance of over 12 miles and the greatest vertical ascent of over 3000 feet. Shortly after 8 am the eight runners shot from the starting line and disappeared into Segment 12 of the Waitukubuli National Trail. An hour and a half later they emerged onto the Vieille Case playing field.

This high savannah with dramatic views of the East Coast was the scene for the first two of the race’s most colourful and exciting mini challenges.

  • The first Mini Challenge was a traditional carnival scene where the racers had to dress as a Sensay and dance with a group of traditional Dominican revellers.  The Dominica team performance pleased the judges best and they won the 5 points.

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  • The second Mini Challenge was to build and fly a kite under the watchful eye of the local school children. The only team who could not keep their kite in the air for one minute was Trinidad White, all other teams won 5 points.

Once again, Trinidad White was the first to leave the field to face one of the longest, hottest stretches of this year’s Nature Island Challenge.

Two hours later at Canna Heritage Park, still holding onto their lead, Team Trinidad White was the first to arrive at the third Mini Challenge with Trinidad Red a few minutes behind. This final mini challenge of the day was to paint the view of the North Coast of Dominica from Canna Heritage Park. The teams were given 25 mins to create the best painting they could with the guidance of a local artist and then sprint to the finish line.

Almost before either team had a chance to mix  their paints, Team USA were on the scene keeping the pressure on both of the Trinidad teams. In the end USA blue painted the best picture and earned another 5 points for the team.

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With an unfortunate repeat scenario, one of Dominica’s athletes was struck with cramps during the race. Despite the set-back and with the support of his buddy and team mates they showed great determination to reach the mini challenge. They completed their painting and crossed the finish line with their heads held high.

Despite the best efforts of Trinidad Red and USA Team Trinidad White maintained their reputation and won the trail run to earn 50 points.

Next the racers moved to Fort Shirley at Cabrits for today’s major challenge, a treasure hunt.

The teams were given a map of Cabrits National Park with clues to the whereabouts of four items. Each team had to stay together, locate all of the items, and return to the finish line.

Trinidad Red pulled out all the stops and won the 25 points, achieving their first Major Challenge win.

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The days photo challenges were very tough to decide, teams are putting more and more creativity into their photos and there were some great contributions to social media! The Dominica Team won two, the Carnival scene and The Lost village. Team USA won the Fort Shirley photo challenge. It was the Wild card photo that was the tightest with some truly great photos loaded to Instagram. Trinidad Red won today with a photo of 2 humpback whales passing close to shore. Where else can you be competing in a trail race and take photos of whales? Only Dominica, only on the Nature Island Challenge!

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Another exciting day on the Nature Island Challenge has left the racers even closer than before, and only tomorrow will tell who will stand victorious!

Team Standings at end of Day 3

A new Leader: Team Trinidad Red with 175 points

Second Place: Team Trinidad White with 165 points

Third Place : Team USA Blue with 160 points

Fourth Place: Team Dominica Green with 115 points

NIC Day 2  started under a blazing sun, an indication of the heat and humidity that lay ahead. Our runners from Trinidad, Dominica, and the USA were undaunted by the day’s first long trail run through the Kalinago Territory and reached the Kalinago Baruna Aute traditional village in good time.

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The first team to arrive (continuing their run from Day 1) was Trinidad White, with the Dominica and Trinidad Red Teams right behind them. It seemed that the heat was taking its toll on Team USA who had started to drop back.

The day’s first mini challenge was to use a locally made bow and arrow to hit a target across a river.  All teams made three shots with the traditional bow, and after some fairly unimpressive shooting, Team Trinidad squeaked out a win and 5 points!  We can say with confidence that if the teams were relying on their shooting skills to eat it would have been an empty belly tonight!

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The Fisherman’s Dance was the second mini challenge. It required teams to wear traditional Kalinago dress and to join three local ladies on stage, attempting to follow their dance moves. The athletes were judged on their skills at following along without falling or otherwise embarrassing themselves. While all teams did meet this minimum level requirement it was Team USA Blue who pulled out the best dance moves to impress the judges and run off with the 5 points. This was the most entertaining challenge so far!

Leaving the Kalinago village there was another long run through the increasing heat and humidity. This run ended at the Coconut mini challenge where teams had to cut open enough coconuts to fill a liter bottle with coconut water. True to form, Trinidad White showed up first, followed shortly by Trinidad Red. However the next team to arrive was a surprise as the USA team had rallied and overtaken the Dominica team.  It seemed the heat was truly taking its toll and cramps had struck Team Dominica. Trinidad Red displayed a blistering pace in opening and pouring the coconuts and blew away the competition to win this challenge and 5 points.

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A short run later and Trinidad White crossed the finish line in first place. Just two minutes behind, Trinidad Red finished the race proving their threat on the trail runs. Team USA crossed in third and then one team member from Team Dominica arrived at the finish line after his teammate had to retire.

The day’s major challenge was held at Touna Heritage Village in Concord, a real example of how today’s Kalinagos live. The challenge was to hunt and gather items needed in everyday life like firewood, Veos (snails) and Lauma reeds used in crafts. Three team mates ran and collected the heavy bundles of wood and reeds while one team member dove into the river to search the rocks and shoreline for Veos. Once 15 were collected, he had to run to the river, reunite with his team and cross the finish line. Again, for the second day in a row, Dominica was the strongest team in a major challenge and won the 15 points.

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Most people will remember this day for the heat and the great determination and endurance shown by our teams. Spirits remain high, teams are having fun throughout the day despite the competitive spirit. They have encouraged each other and even assisted other teams. 

The friendly spirit of Dominica has infected everyone and we can only look forward to day three with big smiles.

Team Standings at end of Day 2:

Tied In First Place with 115 points: Team Trinidad White and Team USA

Third Place with 95 points: Team Trinidad Red

Fourth Place with 75 points: Team Dominica Green.

What a spectacular first day of action at the Nature Island Challenge!

Under grey skies, a few raindrops and a chill in the air, eight excited runners lined up to get things underway.  This year’s host is Mike Escamilla, of pro BMX fame, and after a brief pep talk the racers crossed the field and started their first mini challenge: to assemble a traditional Dominica campsite. After seeing a photo of what it should look like they had to assemble some sticks and banana fronds into a tent and then use rocks, kindling, and a pot to simulate a campfire. After 10 minutes the whistle blew and they all began the first major run from Bellevue Chopin to Giraudel; Team Dominica set off up the hill leading the way. The judge, Mr Roy Ormond, stepped up and declared that Trinidad Red had won the challenge. A good strong tent with the facing leaves in the right direction!

An hour’s run through the rainforest brought the Teams to the second mini challenge, and by now Team Trinidad White had taken the lead. This “Mange Dominique” Challenge was to use all ingredients to cook a traditional Dominica breakfast. Four cooking stations were set up and within 10 minutes all teams had arrived and were cooking away. Team Trinidad White maintained their lead and set off first for the second and more extreme run from Giraudel to Morne Prosper. This run had a dramatic descent and an even more taxing ascent up the ridge.

The third and final mini challenge was to plant a tree in the Morne Prosper School yard, ensuring the correct size hole for the tree. Cheered on by very enthusiastic school children the Teams were very motivated! All teams passed this test except Team Dominica Green whose hole was declared too small for the roots.

The last and final run was from Morne Prosper to Wotten Waven and once again team Trinidad White held their lead and crossed the finish line as the fastest team of the day. Only 3 minutes behind Team USA Blue (consisting of four women) came blazing and skipping across the finish line. Soon after, Team Trinidad Red crossed the finish line and finally Team Dominica Green arrived who struggled due to some health issues in a team member.

Todays photo challenges were of

  • Flowers in Giraudel, won by USA Blue,

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  • Soufriere Sulphur Spring won by USA Blue 
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  • 3 pool Sulphur won by Dominica Green

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  • The wild card photo was also won by USA Blue.image 

USA Blue girls really cleaned up in the photo challenges with some creative great photos today!

The major challenge, after a bus ride to Soufriere, consisted of:

  • A bike race from the sulphur springs to the football field
  • Completion of a jigsaw puzzle in the school yard
  • A run down to the sea
  • Rowing a local fishing boat around a bout and back to shore.

A short run led to the finish line and a claim of 25 points! This was where the Dominica Team finally showed their stuff with a dominant performance and a clean win.

So after Day One of the Nature Island Challenge the standings are as follows:

  • Team USA Blue - 65 points
  • Team Trinidad White - 55 points
  • Team Dominica Green - 50 points
  • Team Trinidad Red - 45 points

With only 20 points separating the four teams we can expect an equally exciting Day Two. Did teams start the first day with their strongest team? Or did they hold back for Day Two to take the opposition by surprise?  So far it has has been a wonderfully supportive and friendly competition, and all the teams are having fun.

But don’t forget it IS a competition and strategy is fair game.

Follow us on Facebook tomorrow for some real time updates on the always exciting Nature Island Challenge.

Finally Dominica’s Nature Island Challenge is under way! 

All the training and preparations are completed and the competition has begun. Today’s Orientation Day had no racing, no running, not even a challenge,
but the morning was spent discussing rules and requirements and introducing the racers to all the support teams who will be watching over them for the next four days.

Four teams will be competing in this year’s Nature Island Challenge:
  • Trinidad Red - Erle, Diane, Natalie and Christopher
  • Trinidad White - Sifu, Cleve, Wayne and Curtis
  • USA Blue - Sarah, Tara, Jennifer and Maddie
  • Dominica Green - Jadin, Shane, Shevon and Elton




With introductions made and the rules laid out, it was time for the teams to mingle and get to know each other. It was a friendly atmosphere as teams shook hands while carefully assessing the competition!

Make no mistake it’s “Game On”.

Athletes spent the rest of the day doing interviews, preparing their social media game plan, getting used to their new Digicel Phones and generally relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of The Fort Young Hotel. Tonight will be an early dinner, then early to bed as the race starts tomorrow at 6.30am breakfast! 

Stay up to date with the progress of the race throughout the day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ll be giving you real-time updates from the field!

For more details about the Nature Island Challenge Endurance Race, visit www.NatureIslandChallenge.com.

In only two days the second Nature Island Challenge will be under way. All the training, all the preparation and all the hard work will be put to the test. For the athletes this means they will test themselves against the elements, against the terrain and most importantly against their own limitations. How fast can they move? How well can they perform the mini and major challenges that will require such a diverse skill set?

As the athletes head towards Dominica and wind down their physical training, the production crew, dozens of event assistants, the organizers and media are still working as hard as ever to ensure that all aspects of this very challenging event are ready to roll.  The Fort Young Hotel, who will be hosting everyone for the race, are also busy ensuring that everything is ready.  The rooms, the meeting spaces, the staff and the restaurants are all prepared. It’s for a good reason The Fort Young Hotel is called “The Key to Dominica”.

 I can promise you it is not just the participants who will be challenged over the upcoming 5 days.  Film crews, social media teams, bus drivers, food caterers and race organizers will be moving throughout the day to keep up with the crowd. Dominica’s “Loubiere Spring Water” will need its own bus just to keep up with thirsty crew, athletes and media!
After all we only drink the purest of spring waters bottled right here in the mountains of Dominica!

 This weekend the team apparel will roll off the printers at Depex Colour Lab and we know to expect their usual top quality work. Meanwhile the team phones, Digicel Smartphone DL700, that the athletes will be using  to document their run have been delivered and are being loaded with all the necessary apps.

The teams will be using the phone to take photos in the photo challenges, upload images to Instagram for the Wild Card challenge and to the social media platforms to win the Social Media Challenge prize.

Each day the contestants will be able to find a Digicel Hotspot Zone to upload and E mail all their media. That is why they are called the Bigger Better network.

So its getting very exciting here in Dominica. Make sure to follow us on Marpin TV our media partner for The Nature Island Challenge 2.0.
See you on the trail, but don’t expect us to stop and chat, we have places to be and people to photograph. But don’t worry we will see you at the Fort Young Hotel for a cold Kubuli at days end!

One question we’ve been asked recently is “How can you train for an event like Dominica’s Nature Island Challenge?

So let’s explore some tips.

Although Dominica is located in the Caribbean, you should not expect the typical white sand beaches and huge resorts. Here you will be immersed in rain-forests, mountains, waterfalls, and hot springs, and you will rarely encounter other visitors on the trail.

The weather during last year’s challenge varied from hot blazing sun to strong, gale force winds and driving rain.  All those conditions were experienced on just the first day! So the only thing you should avoid in your training is snow and ice.

As far as the topography is concerned, we highly recommend that you train for steep slopes.  Train by running up walls, running down walls, jumping down cliffs, and climbing up big objects. We suggest you spend as little time training on flat surfaces as possible. Time spent running in straight lines is also ill-advised as here in Dominica we sometimes go up, other times down, but we are ALWAYS going around a corner.

In the Nature Island Challenge, cross training takes on a whole different meaning. Remember we have Mini and Major Challenges that are based on our cultural history, so please practice the following skills.

  • Dancing is very important; looking good in traditional wear could also really pay off. 
  • Brush up on cooking and gardening techniques and practice some traditional hunting skills.  
  • Train hard with a camera as photography skills can get you far in this event. 
  • Practice your water skills, all of them. Dominica is an island famous for having 365 rivers and fantastic coral reefs, so we are sure to throw you in somewhere.

Lastly, we highly recommend that you work on your stomach and your cheek muscles. Slightly unorthodox we know, but we anticipate lots of laughter and smiling at all the friendly faces awaiting you here in Dominica.

Here is a training video we put together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aXqce9wn-4

There is possibly no other island in the Caribbean region that could put on The Nature Island Challenge like Dominica.

Need some extreme mountains? Check. Need some volcanic backdrops? Check. Need some waterfalls and deep river gorges? Check. Need a marine reserve with steep underwater drop offs, rugged cliffs and hidden caves? Check. But wait a minute…surely we could not throw in friendly welcoming people, a huge diverse cultural history, and the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean? Check check and check!

The Waitukubuli National Trail is not something that people expect to find in the Caribbean, typically known for beaches and sunshine. But Dominica has established this amazing trail - 115 miles long and divided into 14 segments - that weaves in and out of the tapestry of island life. The trail passes through farm land, multiple villages and communities, and even through the Kalinago Territory where the indigenous people of the Caribbean live.

Most of the segments are suitable for a day hike for serious hikers; some can be done in an easy 3 hours of walking; others are closer to 8 hours of hard going. But all of the segments are unique and worth doing for their different dimensions- scenic viewpoints, history and people.

Of course the athletes participating in the Nature Island Challenge are sometimes doing two or three segments in a single day, covering over 10 miles of trail running, up and down steep ridges, across rivers and through the shadows of the rainforest. During the race they will be required to stop and take photos just so we can get them to slow down and appreciate the beauty all around them!

Well, it’s time to get back on the trail - the sun is shining and the rain is falling, all at the same time. That’s life on the Waitukubuli National Trail, home of the Nature Island Challenge.