EXCLUSIVE: Race to Survive: New Zealand’s Jeff Waterson and Coree Woltering Discuss Elimination, Concussions, and Family Reunions

Jeff and Coree on Race to Survive: New Zealand discussing their elimination.
Photo Credit: Daniel Allen/USA Network via Getty Images

In the latest episode of Race to Survive: New Zealand, we watched the racers face their wildest course yet with a cavernous descent and a maze of thorny forests. It felt like nightmare fuel, and by the end of the episode, the Ultramarathoners, Donald “Jeff” Waterson and Coree Woltering were forced to tap out of the race.

The cameras captured Coree taking a nasty spill at the beginning of the race. He kept moving, but after enduring hours and hours of head-splitting pain, they decided the safest thing to do was to exit the race. Getting home in one piece was their main priority.

After their Race to Survive exit, the Ultramarathoners talked to Reality Tea about their time on the show. They shared some good news and bad news. The good news: Coree is okay today. The bad news is that he suffered a concussion from his fall.

What happened to Coree on Race to Survive?

Jeff and Coree on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Brian Finestone/USA Network

On the show, we saw Coree stumble when all of the racers were flocking to the food cache in Race 3. It looked like a whole lot of chaos, and it all happened so fast. In real life, it felt the same way for Coree.

“I think I was just trying to not get hit by another cameraman that was following another team up to the cache,” Coree explained. “I think I tripped up that way, and down I went.”

Coree pressed on through the course, but he said the pain in his head kept getting worse. Then, spelunking through the cave didn’t make it any better. The echoey cave chambers intensified his headache. Then, resurfacing into the light after spending all of that time in the cave was a recipe for sensory overload.

“Being down there for however many hours it was magnifying the headache,” Coree explained. “Everything was hurting so bad after that.”

After they left the race and a helicopter whisked them away, Coree found himself spending quite a bit of time in a New Zealand hospital getting checked out. Perhaps a little bit too much time, according to him. They ultimately diagnosed him with a concussion, and obviously, this wasn’t how they imagined finishing the race. However, the silver lining was that he finally got to eat real food at the hospital.

“As we were sitting in the ER, I was able to eat sushi and a strawberry milkshake,” Coree recalled. “So that wasn’t too terrible.”

Ultimately, a doctor diagnosed him with a concussion and told him to rest and “try not to do anything overstimulating.” Race to Survive doesn’t allow you to do either of those things, so they know they made the best decision to bow out when they did.

Jeff’s family reunion

Jeff Watterson on Race to Survive New Zealand speaking and expressing with his hands
Photo Credit: Tim Williams/USA Network

Throughout the race, Jeff’s guiding light was his family. He talked on the show about how difficult it felt being away from his wife and daughters for such a long time. Being a dad doesn’t stop just because you’re in the middle of New Zealand and crawling through a cave.

Jeff shared that while he was filming the show, his daughters journaled updates about what was going on in their day-to-day. That meant he had a lot of catching up to do on the plane ride home. He had homework, but when he finally arrived back in the United States, they had an emotional reunion at the airport.

“They waited on me at the airport, and they all had signs,” Jeff recalled of his late-night arrival.

“To have them there, waiting on me with signs, it was a pretty emotional thing,” Jeff recalled. “Just getting to hug them for the first time and watching them cry.”

Now that the show is airing, Jeff said he and his daughters have been having watch parties at their house every Monday night. After spending so much time apart, the show has created a new way for them to bond. And just to be clear, everyone has to be quiet when Dad comes on the screen.

Jeff explained, “They’re used to me doing some crazy stuff, but now there’s a platform. They’re like, ‘That’s my dad!'”

Manifesting a reality TV return

Coree and Jeff on Race to Survive: New Zealand walkng down a hill
Photo Credit: Brian Finestone/USA Network

Although Jeff missed his daughters terribly during his experience on Race to Survive, that wouldn’t stop him from doing it all over again. He said he would “100%” do another season of Race to Survive if he had the opportunity. Look out, Season 3!

Of course, Coree would be down for another round as well. He didn’t have to think twice about it. But, he’s also not limiting himself to Race to Survive. He’s ready to bring his talents to other competition reality shows.

Coree said, “I would absolutely do this again, and if Survivor, Big Brother, or any of those other shows are out listening or watching, I’m available.”

We support this a thousand percent. If anyone has a hookup at CBS casting, please give Coree a call. The Ultramarathoners would give anyone a run for their money.

Race to Survive: New Zealand continues on the USA Network, Monday nights at 11/10c.