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Three NMSU seniors have adventure of a lifetime in Red Bull ‘Can You Make It?’

Three New Mexico State University seniors participated in an adventure of a lifetime during the Red Bull “Can You Make It?” competition during April.


Three men posing in front of mountains
New Mexico State University seniors, from left, Jonah Kennon, Torbyn Nare and Emilio Baca demonstrate their yodeling in traditional lederhosen fashion while at the Innsbruck, Austria, checkpoint during the Red Bull “Can You Make It?” adventure challenge. Team Naray finished 28th out of 200 teams in the race across Europe. (Courtesy photo)
Three men with New Mexico flag and Red Bull sign
New Mexico State University seniors, from left, Emilio Baca, Jonah Kennon and Torbyn Nare display the New Mexico flag at the Red Bull “Can You Make It?” starting line in Budapest, Hungary. They were among 200 teams from around the world participating in the challenge. (Courtesy photo)

Team Naray, consisting of Emilio Baca of Belen, Torbyn Nare of Albuquerque and Jonah Kennon of Roswell, traveled from Budapest, Hungary, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, in one week.

The adventure came when they had no money, or credit cards. They had to receive help from people and pay with cans of Red Bull energy drink.

As 200 teams of three college students fanned across Europe from five starting points, the kindness of people was demonstrated time and time again.

“This was a life-changing experience for all of us,” said Baca, a College of Business marketing and small business management major.

“It was a mini-version of life,” said Kennon, a College of Business music business and marketing major. “Some days we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. There were ups and downs, and struggles, but other times things were great.”

“So many things happened during the week,” said Nare, a College of Arts and Science computer science major. “We met some incredible people.”

As Team Naray traveled through Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, the Sigma Chi fraternity brothers discovered people under the age of 30 were more willing to help them accomplish their goal of reaching Amsterdam in seven days.

“In Croatia the people were incredible,” Kennon said. “We got a good jump on the race’s point competition and got some good advice about our journey’s route.”

While Baca plans to return to Croatia this summer for an internship, he said the country that stands out in his mind is the Netherlands.

“The hospitality there was amazing,” Baca said. “People were outwardly trying to help us. People who didn’t know about the race would stop and ask what we were up to. Everyone we met tried to help us out.”

While the goal was to arrive in Amsterdam in seven days, the champion was determined by who earned the most combined points from three areas – checkpoint challenges, adventure challenges and social media support.

“We had to go to checkpoint cities in each country,” Baca said. “After checking in we had to do a challenge that represented one of Red Bull’s extreme sports to earn additional cans of Red Bull energy drink.”

Team Naray rode bicycles up a hill to a castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia; made hockey goals at the Olympic Park in Munich, Germany; yodeled at the Olympic ski jump arena in Innsbruck, Austria; performed magic tricks in Nuremberg, Germany; and played a video soccer game against the number 5 FIFA player in the world in Cologne, Germany.

“The adventure challenges were like a scavenger hunt,” Baca said. “We had a list of things we needed to do to earn points.”

The highlight of the adventure challenges for the owners of Naray & Co, a music and media production company, was meeting a music producer and using his sound studio to create a rap song in one hour. They were among 17 teams that accomplished this challenge.

Other activities ranged from hugging someone for 60 seconds, jumping rope with a professional boxer and playing Elvis’ “Blue Suede Shoes” on the air guitar with a street musician, to teaching 20 people a dance, creating a special effects video and staying in a five-star hotel.

“It was late when we were looking for the five-star hotel in Munich,” Nare said. “We went to several but were turned down. They said if the marketing person was there they probably could. Finally we found one – the Lovelace – that was amazing.

Social media participation included what they posted along the trip and how many viewers kept up with their adventure.

“My fifth grade teacher, Carla Dale, showed our posts to her class every day and gave a lesson on where we were,” Baca said. “We really appreciated everybody who followed us on social media.”

With 30 minutes left to check in at the finish line, Team Naray ended their adventure in Amsterdam.

“I was excited to be back in the Netherlands,” said Kennon, who studied abroad there last year. “It’s my second home. Ending the race here was the reason I wanted to come on this trip.”

They had traveled 1,171 miles and used 140 cans of Red Bull energy drink to accumulate enough points to finished 28th overall. Of the 18 teams from the United States only one other finished higher, University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s The Cajuns, who were 15th.

“This experience showed us that we’re more capable than we initially thought,” Nare said. “We will use this experience as we head to Los Angles in pursuit of our dream of being in the music industry.”

Team Naray’s adventure may be viewed on Red Bull’s website at https://canyoumakeit.redbull.com/en/teams/620/.