Although this popular show is titled Running Wild with Bear Grylls, in reality, he and President Obama did more talking over a meal of tea and wild salmon than scaling cliff walls. The NY Post shared that President Obama is the first sitting president to participate in a reality show. The episode was filmed early in September while President Obama was in Alaska to attend the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic. Climate change was the main topic during both the conference and during Bear Grylls’ special episode with the president.
“He really does live in such a bubble and it’s almost like a bit of a cage … it’s very hard to have the freedom to actually go and do anything. The wild gives you that,” Bear Grylls said on a recent press conference call. “There’s no set routes, you work your way up and down … making tents, making fires. [Things that] someone like him doesn’t get the chance to do.”
Since he is the president, Obama couldn’t just saunter in and immediately begin the adventure with Bear Grylls, there was the not-so-small matter of logistics to work through. Grylls told The Independent that there were approximately 50 Secret Service personnel, a food taster, snipers, and helicopters around them at all times during their day-long journey through a forest and across a glacial outwash located near Alaska’s beautiful, but shrinking Exit Glacier.
“There were obviously quite a few hurdles along the way in trying to keep everyone happy, including, you know, the whole Secret Service, presidential team and all of that. We did it and it’s an episode I’m hugely proud of and this is definitely the high point of our ‘Running Wild’ journeys.”
As for what President Obama had for to eat while on his trek with Bear Grylls, he should consider himself lucky. Even though the grilled salmon they ate had been previously nibbled on by a bear, it was much better fare than what Michelle Rodriguez experienced during her time with Bear Grylls. Rodriguez had perhaps the most stomach-turning episode when she was encouraged by Bear to enjoy a mouse soaked in her own urine. President Obama also shared a bottle of water with Bear Grylls and drank tea made from catkins, which comes from woody shrubs and trees such as oak, alder, hazel, and willow. “He didn’t have any problems. He wanted the physicality…he was up for everything,” Grylls stated.
President Obama is a big fan of the show and Bear Grylls remarked that it was the White House that approached them, wanting to know if they would consider taking the president on a little adventure in Alaska. Bear Grylls went on to say that at first he didn’t believe it and thought it was someone joking with him. This was no joke, however. “He said it was one of the best days of his presidency,” Bear Grylls told reporters. “There were times along the route I had to pinch myself and think, actually, this is the president of America.”
Besides talking about what climate change is doing to the planet, they found a lot of other interesting issues to discuss such as being a father, and the challenges and fears President Obama faces on a daily basis. They also, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, discussed Bear’s penchant for drinking his own urine. “I hope we did something that really put a smile on his face that lasted for a while,” Grylls remarked.
Are you a fan of the show? Will you be watching this episode? Leave your comments, opinions and thoughts below. The special will air on Thursday, December 17 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Image via Bear Grylls Facebook, cropped and resized]