EXCLUSIVE: Mikhail Martin and Steffen Jean-Pierre Discuss Their Surprising Exit on Race to Survive: New Zealand

Mikhail and Steffen discuss exit from Race to Survive: New Zealand.
Photo Credit: Tim Williams/USA Network via Getty Images

On Race to Survive: New Zealand, situations can change in a New York minute. Mikhail Martin and Steffen Jean-Pierre learned that the hard way. In Episode 3, the Brooklyn Climbers exited the competition after a nasty spill down a rocky hill jeopardized their ability to continue.

The duo spent ten days with no food and trekked nearly 50 miles through the New Zealand wilderness, eager to bring the $500,000 prize back home. Throwing in the towel wasn’t a decision they took lightly.

In the aftermath of their Race to Survive elimination, Reality Tea spoke with the Brooklyn Climbers about their difficult decision to leave the competition, Mikhail’s knee, and what’s next for the Big Apple duo now that their Race to Survive journey has come to an end.

An update on Mikhail’s knee injury

Mikhail on Race to Survive: New Zealand venturing across a field
Photo Credit: Tim Williams/USA Network

Towards the end of Episode 3, Mikhail and Steffen were trying their hardest to make it to a food cache and break their 10-day fast when a loose rock caused Mikhail to fall and injure his knee. They tried to push forward on the race course, but they realized that it wasn’t in the cards for them. On the show, we saw a helicopter whisk them away. Mikhail shared what happened next after the cameras stopped rolling.

“The first thing we did was see a field nurse,” Mikhail recalled. “They gave it a look, and then we also went to a local hospital and got things checked out.”

Thankfully, Mikhail didn’t sustain any permanent injuries. Today, his knee is doing just fine, and he’s currently training for an ultramarathon. It’s proof that you can’t keep a New Yorker down for too long.

Knowing when to call it quits

Mikhail and Steffen navigating and looking at a map on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Tim Williams/USA Network

Obviously, bowing out of the race wasn’t what Mikhail and Steffen had in mind for their Race to Survive journey. They watched Season 1 in its entirety, studied every detail, and felt confident going into the race. When Mikhail fell, that put everything in jeopardy. Still, it took some time for them to decide to throw in the towel.

On the show, we saw the Brooklynites continue to push forward on the racecourse. They were determined to make it to that much-needed food cache. They weren’t going down without a fight, but according to Steffen, there was another scary moment that felt like a breaking point.

“He was climbing something that should have been pretty routine, and a big boulder started to come and fall on him,” Steffen recalled. “It almost injured him a second time, so I saw that happen, and I knew he wasn’t moving the way he was supposed to.”

Ultimately, getting back to Brooklyn in one piece was priority number one. They realized that Mikhail’s inconvenient knee injury could turn into something much worse if they kept trying to navigate the racecourse. It’s hard enough even with two good knees.

“It wasn’t an ideal situation for continuing the race, but the best competitors know when to bow out and live to fight another day,” Mikhail added.

Would the Brooklyn Climbers take another shot at Race to Survive?

Steffen Jean-Pierre and Mikhail Martin in Episode 1 of Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Daniel Allen/USA Network

Since Steffen and Mikhail had to exit the competition earlier than they planned, it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that they both have a hunger to return to the race. If USA Network calls them for Season 3, they both said they wouldn’t have to think twice about it. They’d be back on the racecourse in a heartbeat, even if it meant having to relive the nightmare of going days and days without eating.

“Sign me up right now. Throw me back in the fire. I’m so ready,” Mikhail said. “To exit the race the way we did, it definitely leaves you wanting to get back and prove what you can really do.”

Steffen added, “If we’re doing this again, Mikhail and I are not leaving anything on the table. I would bet on us.”

The outdoors are calling

Steffen and MIkhail Race to Survive: New Zealand cast picture
Photo Credit: Patrik Giardino/USA Network

Even without Race to Survive, Mikhail and Steffen, plan to continue marathoning, creating visibility for Black climbers, and advocating for outdoors enthusiasts of color. Representation matters, and Mikhail shared some solid advice for anyone looking to get a taste of Race to Survive in real life. Here’s a hint: you don’t have to go all the way to New Zealand and spend ten days on an empty stomach.

“The most important thing is just showing up and showing people what you can do and what they can do. I’m sure everybody at home thinks they can’t get out and adventure, but the truth is you can,” Mikhail explained.

Of course, an adventure like Race to Survive: New Zealand probably shouldn’t be your first step. Mikhail suggested that you can start by just getting out and exploring a state park or looking for community organizations that can help you get started.

He continued, “Even if you don’t see someone who looks like you doing it, you can do it. You just have to believe that you belong out there — because you do.”

This interview was edited for conciseness and clarity.

New episodes of Race to Survive: New Zealand air Monday nights at 11/10c on USA Network.