Man Has Problems. Man Goes on Adventure.

(Mark Mathews Self Portrait)

In The Fear Project, I profile a handful of the most of the most accomplished action adventure athletes alive: skydivers, cave-divers, big-wave surfers, skiers, and a UFC fighters. I wanted to know the science behind what made these people tick, but I couldn’t help getting enthralled in their personal stories. One theme that emerged over and again is that the risks these athletes take help them find confidence and stability in their personal lives, especially when times get rough — and most of them have seen some rough times, no doubt part of why they’re pushing the limits to gut twisting levels.

Science is now putting some research into how and why this is such a common theme. Men’s Health Magazine reported a story recently citing a Texas A&M study that found that adventure sports are more adrenaline and cortisol inducing than public speaking, usually thought of as the king of stressors. It’s likely because athletes are having fun with these high levels of adrenaline that participating in such sports, researchers say, help them deal with stress in everyday life. But here’s an interesting caveat from the research: only if they’re dangerous (involving the risk of death), unpredictable, and social (so you feel like you have to perform for others). The researchers also found that the fittest guys had less adrenaline and cortisol in the system after participating in adventure sports, showing, perhaps, that the fittest humans handle stress better.

The story of the dude who has problems at home working them out through adventure is one we’ve been telling since our gladiator days, but it never gets old. And now, here’s one more, Fighting Fear, starring two of the gnarliest Aussies alive, Mark Mathews and Richie Vaculik. I’m looking forward to it coming out on DVD next month.

Here’s they synopsis:

Mark is a Big Wave Surfer. He dreams of being the best. Richie, Mark’s best mate shares his love of Big Wave Surfing but has his own ambitions. A carpet layer by day, Richie dreams of becoming a MMA Cage-Fighting Champion. Both are fearless, living life on the edge, daring each other to surf bigger waves, party harder, take greater risks. But when their adrenalin-seeking antics & hardened partying turns sour, it sets in motion a dramatic and life-changing series of events that threatens to derail everything they have worked so hard for.

In an instant, Mark’s Big Wave surfing career is in tatters & Richie is facing a jail term. But for these two friends, giving up is not an option. It’s not the mistakes you make but how you overcome them. Their unwavering friendship gives them the courage to battle their demons, rise up from their troubled past & conquer their fears.

I missed the theatrical premier in the US, but if it’s anything like the last film from Marcario De Souza, Bra Boys — the largest grossing doc in Australian history — it will be well worth the price of admission.

Order The Fear Project on: