Ashley Overcast, a Florida Obstace Racing sensation in her own right, held a secret inside for months as she anxously anticipated the February 15th debut of a once in a lifetime experience. In late 2014 she found herself wisked away to appear on CMT’s intense reality throwdown, Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. Now that the episode has aired, her vow of silence has finally been broken, and she is able to open up about her experience at Steve Austin’s unforgiving ranch. Ashley shared her story with me, and I’m pleasd to now pass her tale of a dream realized, of a disappointing defeat, and of the surprising friendships that she gained from this experience.
Certain experiences in life are impossible to prepare for. My experience at the Broken Skull Ranch was one of those experiences. I knew what I had signed up for, the opportuinity to test my skills against some roughest and toughest competition in America. Not only would I be challenging myself, but I would be doing it on national tv.
When I left for the five day adventure of a lifetime, I was 2,000 miles from home and all alone. When we were picked up from the airport, the cast was put in a van together and we were under strict orders not to speak to one another. I had no idea that the first two days would be cloaked in silence. The only words I heard spoken from the other competitors were their orders from Subway. The difficulty in not speaking was that without words, there was an abundance of thoughts. I was sizing up my competition, reading nonverbal cues, and doing my best to remain completely blank and expressionless as adrenaline was pumping non-stop, and my heart was beating out of my chest.
The first day on set, we did what they called “beauty shots”, followed by cast photos. By this point we are picking up on castmates names, but know nothing else. Next we were wisked off to the site I recognize from TV. There it is, the Broken Skull water tower, the trench, and the area where Steve Austin will pull up at any minute. When he arrives, we all take notice. All I can think about is that I don’t want to say something stupid in front of Steve Austin. We are called out in random order, and asked questions we had not prepared answers to. We were put on the spot, and in front of a celebrity. As words came from the cast, this was truly the first time I had heard them speak, and was the only information I could gather before our head-to-head matchup. My name was called to go first, and before I could even realize what was happening, I was crawling out of the trench, heartbroken and defeated.
When I was the first one sent home, I initially planned on keeping this secret journey to myself with the hope that no one I knew would stumble upon my episode. Little did I know that the other women on this journey would help me to heal my bruised ego and make this one of the most positive experiences of my life.
One by one, competitors were sent “down the road” and to the van I was waiting in. Finally the silence was broken. As competitors showed up, we introduced ourselves and got to know one another. Although I did not go to the Broken Skull challenge to lose, or to make friends, I ended up doing both.
I came to the realization that there are few times in life where I will ever be surrounded by such motivated and successful athletes. Each one of us has a unique journey and individual life experiences that are truly inspiring. One thing we all had in common was the desire to step outside of our everyday lives, and to seize an amazing opportunity that would leave us all forever changed. We now have a “secret” Facebook group, we call one another our “fit sisters”, and plan to reunite at a later date to build upon the friendships that were made at the Broken Skull Ranch.
Thank you Ashley for sharing your story! You truly are an inspiration!