Veterans part of Team UNBROKEN in World’s Toughest Race

VA employee in Fiji Eco-Challenge event


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The “World’s Toughest Race” follows 66 teams from 30 different countries over 11 days. Teams must complete a 417-mile obstacle course over rivers, ocean and swamp. The race has five legs and teams must pass 31 checkpoints to locate five medallions.

One of those teams consists of a group of Veterans and VA employee Dr. Anne Bailey, from the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, NC.

World's Toughest Race team

From left are: Hal Riley, TV host Bear Grylls, Gretchen Evans, Keith Knoop and Anne Lord Bailey.

They are Team UNBROKEN.

Team UNBROKEN

Team UNBROKEN (pictured above) is comprised of Hal Riley, team captain; Keith Knoop, U.S. Army Veteran and Purple Heart recipient; Command Sgt. Maj. Gretchen Evans, U.S. Army retired and Bronze Star recipient; Bailey, VA pharmacist; and Cale Yarborough, team assistant.

Evans put the team together. She recruited Bailey, saying, “I’ll pull together a group of people that no one would ever pick to do this.”

Team UNBROKEN consists of five people, all with unique backgrounds and unique injuries or disabilities. Two are combat Veterans with innumerable war injuries, including deafness, PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. Bailey is diabetic. One Veteran has a severe back injury and one has a seizure disorder.

The World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji was filmed over almost two weeks across hundreds of miles of rugged terrain, complete with mountains, jungles, rivers and ocean throughout Fiji.

The course was open for non-stop, 24-hour-a-day racing. All filming took place in September 2019.

“The heartbeat of Team UNBROKEN is to show ourselves and others with wounds — whether visible or invisible — that anyone with fierce determination and the right support system can face the toughest obstacles. The team also exemplifies the value of Veterans and civilians working together for the common good,” Bailey shared.

Survival instructor and TV host Bear Grylls, ex-Special Air Services serviceman instructor, is the host for the program. Subscribers can watch the program on Amazon Prime.


Allison Amrhein is the director of operations for the VHA Innovators Network and communications lead for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem.

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