James Batey (left), Marilina Kim and Jay Wyatt were Team Southeast Asia on NatGeo’s new show, “Race to the Center of the Earth” (National Geographic Photo).

James Batey (left), Marilina Kim and Jay Wyatt were Team Southeast Asia on NatGeo’s new show, “Race to the Center of the Earth” (National Geographic Photo).

For Islander, Competing on NatGeo Show Was Filled Was Thrills

James Batey is a member of one of four teams that competed in the extreme adventure competition.

Will Vashon Islander James Batey, along with his intrepid teammates on National Geographic’s current series, “Race to The Center of the Earth,” win the show’s $1 million prize on the new show’s final episode airing May 10 on NatGeo TV?

You’ll have to tune in to find out.

Batey, a teacher at Seattle’s Bush School who has lived on Vashon since 2015, is a member of one of four teams that competed on the seven-part extreme adventure competition that debuted on March 29.

During the filming of the show in 2019, the four teams variously tackled grueling and stunningly beautiful courses in four different hemispheres.

The season finale will find all the teams converging in the same undisclosed location, racing to be first to make it to a buoy holding the grand prize.

For Batey, part of Team Southeast Asia with two co-workers at The Bush School, being on the show was filled with daily challenges that included instructions such as, “Run three miles, take a tuk-tuk 100 miles to the river, paddle a fishing skiff down the Mekong for five hours, then run two miles to the finish.”

Batey became involved after seeing an ad for the show online and getting in touch with the show’s casting director. Then, he recruited his Bush School colleagues Marilina Kim and Jay Wyatt to come along for the ride.

“I worked to put together a team that America could connect with and that had the skills necessary to compete in this wild competition,” he said. “Both are incredible climbers, have spent loads of hours in the outdoors, and know what it’s like to work hard. On top of that, they are wonderful people and together we formed a team that focused on supporting each other, having fun, and pushing ourselves to our limits.”

And even now, he said, his favorite part of watching the show is observing his own team’s dynamic.

“… ‘Score points and have fun, always forward, always together’ was our daily mantra and it’s great to see that coming through on the show,” he said.

“Race to the Center of the Earth” isn’t Batey’s first foray into competitive television — he also appeared on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” in 2016 and “Wheel of Fortune” in 2016.

But still, Batey said he hasn’t yet been spotted as a TV celebrity on Vashon.

“Maybe one day I’ll get ‘hey, you’re that guy from that thing’ and it will all be worth it,” he said.

All the episodes “Race to the Center of the Earth,” including the finale on May 10, can be viewed on natgeo.com or on the NatGeo app on television with a cable log-in. All episodes will also be available on Disney+ starting after the finale on Friday, May 14. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com/tv/shows/race-to-the-center-of-the-earth.


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