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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Last Woman Standing: introduction

Last Woman Standing

Five female athletes from the UK travel across the globe, live with tribes and remote peoples, and take on local women in some extremely difficult and indigenous sports – all wanting to be the Last Woman Standing – in a new series on BBC Three.

How will a group of very Western girls cope when they take on local women at sports they've been practising since they were children? How will they handle the rites of passage and the rituals, the harsh conditions and the reality of the ultimate life changing experience?

From Huka Huka Wrestling in Brazil to Bamboo Raft Racing in the Philippines and from Water Buffalo Racing in Indonesia to Tarahumara Mountain Endurance contests in Mexico, all five women are setting out with one aim – to return with their pride and bodies in tact.

Over the course of their journey the athletes will be tested physically and emotionally... but by the end of the series only one Westerner will have the honour of being crowned the Last Woman Standing.

The challenges

Huka Huka Wrestling – Upper Xingu region, Brazil

Huka Huka Wrestling is a test of power and skill which takes place once a year. The Kamaiura women and men of the Upper Xingu region of Brazil trade their traditional roles for one week. This festival climaxes with a punishing wrestling match. This is a gruelling contest, immersed in strong belief, ritual and custom that each athlete will have to face.

Xavantes Log Race – Mato Grosso, Brazil

A relay race like no other, the Xavantes log race is an exhausting competition between the tribe. Men and women compete separately in "log races" in which teams of runners hold logs on their shoulders and pass them to one another. Two teams are selected and each of the athletes will have to earn their place in the team. This game will be played out in the blistering Brazilian heat and will be a true test of the athletes' strength and stamina.

Kali – Luzon, Philippines

Kali is a martial art with blades, sticks and hand-to-hand fighting which was traditionally performed by Filipino women as a form of defence whilst their men were away hunting. Kali is all about resilience and technique, and the athletes will face the harshest week of their lives learning the discipline of stick fighting in a remote martial arts training camp. According to kali tradition, in order to fight well, the athletes must be able to cope with pain and face their fears. Before training can begin the girls will have to prove themselves during a series of endurance trials, which will push them to their limits. They must demonstrate that they have the strength and will to fight, even after they are exhausted.

Bamboo Raft Race – Coron, Philippines

The Tagbanua tribe live harsh and isolated lives gathering fish and seaweed from the waters in the region of Palawan. The women learn to work on the sea from an early age and they soon become masters on ocean-going bamboo rafts that are held together with nothing more than twine. The athletes will be taking part in a tough 12-kilometre race across the open seas against some of the toughest seafarers on earth. They have just seven days to master the art of rafting, learning how to keep afloat, balance and row in the rough, choppy water. This raft race will be a test of skill, stamina and, above all, sheer determination... only the mentally strong will have the will to win.

Water Buffalo Racing – Sumbawa, Indonesia

For this high-octane race the athletes will need nerves of steel – each of the girls will have to drive a chariot drawn by two water buffaloes. This is no mean feat as these animals have been bred and trained for racing and reach speeds of more than 30mph. If that wasn't tough enough, they must go over two jumps as they fly down the course. The athletes will have to battle their nerves, race over a distance of 300m and learn to control their buffaloes if they are to reach the end of the course.

Tarahumara Mountain Endurance Race – Mexico

The Tarahumara of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico call themselves the Raramuri which literally means "those who run". Over generations they have adapted to the thin mountain air and their extraordinary lung capacity and stamina puts them among the best endurance runners in the world. The athletes will be taking part in a special race known as Arihueta – a long distance run, at an exhausting high altitude, through the treacherous Mexican mountains. While they are running they will have to hurl hoops with a stick and, as is tradition, their shoes will be primitive sandals made from old car tyres.

The series will culminate as the athletes go up against each other in the ultimate altitude endurance event.

Of the five competitors that began this gruelling journey, who will be the Last Woman Standing?


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