EXCLUSIVE: Bronsen Iverson and Ryan Stewart from Race to Survive: New Zealand Dish on Family, Poaching, and Keeping a Level Head

Ryan Stewart and Bronsen Iverson standing on the beach on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Daniel Allen/USA Network via Getty Images

The latest episode of Race to Survive: New Zealand delivered a shocking, double elimination of the competition’s frontrunners. While one of those teams got booted from the competition for breaking a rule, the Hunters, Bronsen Iverson and Ryan Stewart bowed out gracefully after an injury put their position in the race in jeopardy.

Of course, no one wants to walk away from a shot at $500,000, so leaving New Zealand wasn’t an easy decision. Now that the dust has settled, the in-laws chatted with Reality Tea about their disappointing departure. Plus, they offered a hunter’s perspective on the rule violation that sent their competitors packing.

An update on Ryan’s knee

Bronsen Iverson and Ryan Stewart sitting together on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Daniel Allen/USA Network

The last time we saw Ryan, his knee was massively swollen. He took a tumble in Race 2 and walked it off. By Race 4, the pain started creeping up on him and it became unbearable. Thankfully, he’s doing much better, but he definitely tore his LCL in New Zealand.

When he first got home, the pain was pretty severe. He said he couldn’t climb a ladder or even push down on a gas pedal without feeling pain. Throughout the year, Ryan works as a hunting guide, landscaper, snow remover, and Christmas light decorator, so clearly, having pain like that simply isn’t sustainable.

“I did physical therapy, and the doctor would just kept suggesting surgery,” Ryan recalled. “I knew it would get stronger.”

Ryan was right. The knee got stronger, and he predicts that he’ll be back to 100% within the next couple of months. Right now, he’s at about 90%. In the meantime, he’s trying to take things easy and hasn’t done any extreme hikes. However, he wouldn’t rule out a return to Race to Survive. He and Bronsen both said they’d do it again in a heartbeat, just with a little less weight on their packs.

Keeping a level head on Race to Survive: New Zealand

Bronsen Iverson wearing a helmet light in a cave on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Brian Finestone/USA Network

Throughout the race, the Hunters maintained an unshakeable game face — especially Bronsen. Send them into a cave? Bronsen is smiling. Throw them down a rocky river? He’s still smiling. That’s just his personality, and that level-headedness helped the Hunters prevail throughout the first three racers.

Once Ryan’s injuries started to catch up to them, Bronsen’s levelheadedness is what helped them both see the bigger picture. Ryan said he wanted to keep pushing, but Bronsen helped him remember that he has a physical job and a family relying on him.

Bronsen explained, “He had been muscling through it this whole time through all of the other racecourses. He’s a strong guy, but when it came to it, I was just thinking, ‘Man, this bad.'”

“I didn’t want to push him to the extent where he couldn’t use his leg or would have to be out for six weeks,” Bronsen continued. “He’s got a family at home. He’s got to provide. We can’t have him being a bum on the couch for six weeks.”

Now that the show is airing, the in-laws have been enjoying watching the action play out with their families. Ryan and Bronsen kept journals throughout their Race to Survive experience, so they’ve been enjoying reliving the adventure with their families. The fact that they can do it all in one piece makes it even better.

The big, broken rule

Ryan and Bronsen walking down a hlll on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Brian Finestone/USA Network

Of course, Ryan and Bronsen weren’t the only team eliminated in Episode 8. We also saw the River Guides get kicked off the show after Corry broke a rule by eating a bird on the no-kill list. After watching other contestants slaughter sheep, hedgehogs, and eels, why is it such a big deal for them to eat this random bird when they’re literally starving? Ryan explained that it all comes down to poaching laws and the pressures of such a high-stakes competition.

“Me being a hunting guide, I have to abide by a ton of laws — especially with poaching,” Ryan explained.

He compared the situation with the River Guides to the elk hunts he leads in Utah. If he took someone out on an excursion and they shot an off-limits animal, Ryan explained that he would be legally obligated to report it. Even if it’s just a little bird, rules are rules. Otherwise, his livelihood could be on the line.

“So now, if the Feds came to me, and I knew about it, they would take my guiding license away that I worked so hard for and charge me just as much as they would charge him,” Ryan added.

With that in mind, Ryan recognized the seriousness of the accusations levied against the River Guides. He felt like their disqualification was fair because they were all specifically told not to go after the birds. However, he didn’t rule out the theory that another competitor snitched on the River Guides to get ahead in the competition.

“It sucks because they did do it, and they knew it,” Ryan added. “And you’re doing it in front of a bunch of people [competing] for $500,000. That’s a pretty big whoopsie because someone around there is probably going to say something if they feel they need to.”

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