Some Americans this summer have gathered around their TV sets watching a phony "reality" show from National Geographic Channel about a made-up wilderness race across Alaska. The New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger has called the show, "Ultimate Survival: Alaska," "too contrived to be truly compelling,"

Unbeknownst to those Americans soaking on their couches in virtual survivalism, there was a truly compelling survival race underway in the 49th state. The real-life version is called the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic.

It has simple, Alaska rules: Start at Point A. Go 150 miles across the wilderness to Point B. If you can't make it, find a way to save yourself. If you die, don't blame us; we warned you.

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