Weston man aims to survive TNT's '72 Hours'

What do you get when you add the bickering of "Survivor" to the suspense of "The Amazing Race"? Something that looks like "72 Hours,'' a new TNT reality series premiering 10 p.m. Thursday.

Weston resident Garfield Griffiths is one of nine competitors working in teams of three to trek through jungle and ocean in search of $100,000 hidden in cash.

"I knew that we were going to be literally dropped in the middle of nowhere and had to survive,'' Griffiths said.

The husband and father of two applied for the show online last year because he's a fan of intense reality TV competitions and loves competing in extreme events such as mud and obstacle races. Griffiths, 45, who runs his own marketing/media firm, IMC Media Group Inc., organizes 5-kilometer mud running events at mudmingle.com.


Hollywood Doggie Beach Pictures

"I have to do this," he recalls telling his wife about participating in the show. "I am never going to get a chance to do something like this in my life."

After parachuting 2,000 feet from a helicopter, Griffiths and his two teammates, a college student from Utah and a personal trainer from Texas, spent three days traveling throughout the Yasawa Islands in Fiji from sunrise to sunrise. They swam and island-hopped from one supply drop to another with only a bottle of water, a GPS tracker and a two-way radio for help. (For a one-hour penalty, teams can call in for relief supplies, which brings them water, food, a shovel and hand sanitizer.)

The first night, they slept during a storm as water filled their ears and their leg muscles cramped.

"The lack of water and food thing I knew would be a challenge,'' recalled Griffiths, who drank coconut water and ate ants and bugs to appease his appetite. "I was literally chasing a lizard around trying to eat it."

Challenges included canoeing 6 miles between two islands and wading through tall thick grass under the scorching sun. In that scene, Griffiths could barely stand up.

"I have never felt anything like this … this level of exhaustion,'' he told cameras on the show before resting.

When the teams reached the third relief drop, they hunted for a hidden briefcase filled with cash. Future episodes will take viewers to Tasmania, New Zealand and The Rockies.

We won't say who won in the debut episode (the winning team splits the $100,000 cash prize), but Griffiths said he was proud to have competed.

"It's a great way to study human nature and see what people do under duress,'' he said.

His advice to future competitors: Eat and drink whatever you can and always keep moving.

"When you have never been that thirsty and hungry before, it's amazing to see how people change."

johnnydiaz@tribune.com or 954-356-4939

On TV

What: "72 Hours"

When: Premieres 10 p.m. Thursday on TNT