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Lehi resident enjoys struggle, adventure on survival reality TV show



Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press

RACE TO SURVIVE: NEW ZEALAND — “Water and Ice” Episode 201 — Pictured: (l-r) Ryan Stewart, Bronsen Iverson — (Photo by: Daniel Allen/USA Network)

A Lehi man and his son-in-law are taking family bonding to a whole new level as teammates in the hit USA Network reality show “Race to Survive: New Zealand.” Challengers on the show rely on endurance and survival skills as they race across 150 miles of New Zealand’s harshest terrain for a chance to win $500,000.

Longtime Lehi resident Ryan Stewart and his son-in-law Bronson Iverson, a Hurricane resident, make up one of the nine teams who spent 40 days pushing their bodies to the limit in the wilds of New Zealand in the show’s second season. The first “Race to Survive” was filmed in Alaska.

Racers navigate a 150-mile course, completing physical challenges like repelling, kayaking and summiting peaks. In addition to navigating the course without technology, the teams have to source their food and water by hunting and foraging. In each leg of the race, the last team to reach the finish line is eliminated from the competition. The first team to reach the finish will get the cash prize.

Stewart and Iverson performed well in the first two episodes, finishing the first leg of the race in second place.

Two other teams also hail from Utah: divorced couple Creighton Baird and Paulina Pena from Salt Lake City and endurance athletes and mothers Rhandi Orme from Kaysville and Ashley Paulson from St. George.

Stewart and Iverson agree that the most challenging part of the race was being tasked with finding their own food. 

“Food was the hardest thing. Physically, it was tough, but not having the abundance of food and burning crazy amounts of calories was hard,” said Stewart. “When you did find a food cache, there was a minimal amount of calories to split between the two of you, so we were trying to ration.”


“We starved. We lost weight,” said Iverson. “Physically, it was tough. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle, but it was tough. It was tough mentally and physically. We always wished we had a little more to replenish ourselves.”

Both men brought skills to the table that they felt made them well-prepared for the competition. Both men describe themselves as cowboys who grew up hunting, fishing, ranching and riding bulls. Stewart also spent some time in the military, where he learned navigation and survival skills. Stewart now works as a big game guide in Utah with Mossback Outfitters. Iverson is still ranching and is a farrier with Rocking B Horseshoeing.

Iverson and his wife had been married just three months when the show began. Stewart said they made a great team and get along now better than ever. 

“When I met Bronson, he just showed a lot of the same qualities I have. He has endurance. He doesn’t want to quit. He’s a really strong guy. It seemed like a good fit to go on the show together,” said Stewart.

Despite the rough conditions, both Stewart and Iverson say they enjoyed the experience and would do it again. 

“Even when it was hard, and you’re sitting hungry in the rain, I thought, ‘Holy cow, this is really cool that we’re doing this. Not everybody gets to do this,’” Iverson said.

Stewart added, “A lot of times, you’re thinking about home and other places you would rather be, but we both have a personality that, at the moment, it’s not fun, but when you look back at it, it was an enjoyable time, and you’re ready to do it again. A couple of days later, you kind of forget the pain. It’s painful at the time, but it’s something you’re going to remember.”

“What we did was the adventure of a lifetime,” said Stewart. “There was such a diversity of terrain and things to do. We could start out on lake canoeing, where you have to have the skills of canoeing and navigation, and then go on a crazy hike up a steep mountain. You could repel down a snowfield and go all the way back to white water rafting. It always kept you wanting to do the next adventure.”


You can watch Stewart and Iverson compete on “Race to Survive: New Zealand” on the USA Network on Mondays at 12 a.m. MST.

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