Why would anyone want to be part of a sucker-punch show that delights in making people fall down by pummeling, hitting, pushing, smacking, blobbing and crashing the contestants, repeatedly sending them into water or gloppy, gooey mud?
Debbie Markham of Cambria said she auditioned for the physically brutal ABC show “Wipeout” because she loves to challenge herself. She said it’s when she’s aggressively active that she feels most alive, freeing herself to really experience life when she faces her fears head-on.
Something worked, because producers picked her to appear on what she calls “the crazy obstacle-course game show.” The pratfall-filled segment in which Markham competed against 23 other contestants is set to air June 24.
As is the case with all taped reality shows, Markham isn’t allowed to give away the outcome, but she did say she did “very well.”
The lithe brunette, a 39-year-old divorced mother of two, is easy to spot because she’s wearing rainbow-colored board shorts from Moondoggie’s in San Luis Obispo.
Markham has a lifetime of participating in team and individual sports, including marathons. She and her kids — Zoe, 9, and Nate, 8 — hop on pogo sticks, jump on the trampoline and play hopscotch; they jump rope and ride scooters and skateboards and even walk on stilts.
Mom even exercises while she does her housework.
She credits “unloading the entire dishwasher on my tippy toes,” among other odd workouts, with giving her “the agility, endurance or pain tolerance for the lactic-acid buildup burning my legs” during the “Wipeout” trials.
“I want to win, so I’m going to go for it,” she said. To win a contestant-elimination show such as “Wipeout,” Markham declared, “you have to be strong, fast and fearless.”
But all those adrenaline rushes have come at a price: In one decade, Markham had her right knee reconstructed, a hip injury from soccer and a shoulder separation from extreme motorcycle riding.
But it was occasional bouts with depression that led her to make two agreements with herself — not taking anything personally and actually doing what she was curious to try but scared to do.
“The more I say ‘yes,’ the more fun I have,” she explained.
Markham said it took three long days to film the one-hour, frenzied “Wipeout” show. Despite the down time, from “start to finish, it was a blast,” she said. In fact, Markham recently auditioned for another extreme game show but didn’t make the cut.
Chances are pretty good she’ll try again. She’s used to being knocked down and getting back up.
A local on Wipeout
The new season of ABC’s ‘Wipeout’ extreme obstacle course contest series begins with two shows next week. The Tuesday premiere is followed by another broadcast June 24, including an appearance by Cambria resident Debbie Markham (see a preview at bit.ly/debmark; she’s in the rainbow shorts from Moondoggies at about the 20 second mark). For more, go to the ‘Wipeout’ website at abc.go.com/shows/wipeout.