UT team “The Tryhards” were picked as finalists in the Red Bull “Can You Make it?” challenge, where more than 200 teams of college students will race across Europe in a week with only a preprogrammed phone, a paper map and 24 cans of Red Bull to use as currency.
A panel of judges will announce on March 6 if undeclared freshman Andrew Read, advertising freshman Benji Hickerson and business freshman Grace Foulkrod will make the journey this April. If picked, the three freshmen will take a week off school and compete April 10–17. Although they might miss some tests and the prize is unknown, Read said it is worth it.
“It’s dead in the middle of everyone’s burdens,” Read said. “It’s an excuse, good or bad, to just go for it and do something that’s not college or not normal, which I’m a big fan of.”
The team is dropped off at one of five locations, and the goal is to travel to Amsterdam by bartering with Red Bull for everything from food to transportation. The team applied using a video showing off their team dynamic and skills.
“We showed different aspects of each other that would help us on the road,” Hickerson said. “Like for me, it was rock climbing. That’s adventure and outdoorsy. For (Grace), being in business, that’s bartering and talking to people to get what you want. Andrew is a musician, which means he’s pretty adventurous and spontaneous.”
The group had to receive a certain number of votes on their video to become finalists. They advertised across social media, went door-to-door in dorms and even sent an email to UT President Gregory Fenves, from whom they received no response, to meet their goal.
“I went on Facebook and just started searching random Facebook groups,” Hickerson said. “We also found a compiled list of all these GroupMe (messaging groups) for different majors and just started spamming them. I think the advertising really helped with getting us out of our comfort zone. The advertising honestly took a lot of time and effort and was super stressful.”
Although Foulkrod said her parents were not sure whether they should hope the team gets to go, she is still excited.
“We’ve never been to Europe,” Foulkrod said. “(This is) getting to do something crazy with people that I enjoy being around. That’s something that we’ll be able to talk about for the rest of our lives.”