Project Acheron is a spiritual, physical challenge designed to see what these athletes are made of.
Four elite athletes cross the proverbial river of pain to undergo transformation in a way no cross-training program has ever done before. The athletes – expedition kayaker Rafa Ortiz, surf ironman Australian Matt Poole, big-wave surfer Ian Walsh and multisport waterman Kai Lenny – are guided by two former Navy Seals who purposely create high-performance challenges at every turn. The River Acheron, also known as the River of Pain, forms the border of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, and serves as a metaphor for the program. Red Bull Project Acheron merges extreme environments, the power of the unknown, and elite athletes into a highly engineered and singular athletic training experiment. The mission also has a scientific purpose, as the athletes’ brains are scanned pre- and post-trip to analyze how the brain reacts and adapts to stress.
"During the planning stages, Walshe and (Former Navy Seal) Pete Naschak affectionately referred to this expedition with the codename HFU, short for: Harden the F*ck Up," recalled Anders. "Of course, for obvious reasons, the official name changed, becoming Project Acheron, a tip of the hat to the River Acheron, also known as the River of Pain, which forms the border to Hell in the 14th-century epic poem known as Dante’s Inferno."