STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Isaiah Vidal is used to overcoming obstacles in competition; this time, however, he is the obstacle.
The 2011 Marble Falls High School graduate is one of the Defenders on “Million Dollar Mile,” a 10-episode TV series that premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, on CBS. The show is co-produced by SpringHill Entertainment, which is owned by NBA superstar LeBron James.
The 25-year-old Vidal is part of a team of top-ranked international athletes who compete in extreme obstacle courses such as the Spartan Race. The Defenders are charged with making sure “Million Dollar Mile” contestants don’t win the grand prize of $1 million. To do this, they rely on their strength, speed, endurance, and mental toughness, according to the show’s executive producers, Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan of “Big Brother” fame.
And they’ll need every bit of it, Vidal said.
“Million Dollar Mile” contestants begin each race with a two-minute head start against the Defenders, who must make up the time and beat the contestants to the finish to protect the grand prize. The course has a minimum of five obstacles, and for every one the contestants overcome, they win cash.
If a Defender beats a contestant, that individual is eliminated from the competition and a shot at the $1 million.
“(The contestants) are people who have a significant fitness background,” Vidal said. “Every competitor I went against had an idea of what fitness is about.”
On the show, Vidal lives up to his nickname “The Destroyer.” He plows through obstacles using speed and strength with a dash of personality coupled with good looks to round out his character.
Vidal has competed in over 150 obstacle course races and stood on the podium more than 80 times. He is the youngest competitor ever to be a two-time finisher at the Spartan Death Race.
In 2013, he rode a bike from Austin to Killington, Vermont, to compete in the Spartan World Championship, where he placed in the top 10 in the world then sixth in the Ultra Beast competition the next day.
Yet “Million Dollar Mile” challenged Vidal in a new way. On the show, he wasn’t competing to win something for himself but trying to keep others from victory.
“The million dollars was (a) very, very high (amount of prize money),” he said. “I learned about controlling my nerves and trusting my capabilities … as an athlete.”
The show was shot in Los Angeles in November over two weeks and is hosted by Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
This is the second time Vidal has participated in a network TV show. In 2016, he led a team of competitors to the semifinals on the “Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge.”