SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. ― Like any elite athlete, professional bull riders are highly competitive when it comes to climbing into the bucking chute and making an 8-second ride on one of the rankest bulls in the world.
Though it's far less dangerous, some of the top riders in the world are equally competitive when it comes to the season-long Clash of the Cowboys promotion.
Divided into two teams of four - Outlaws: Luke Snyder, Sean Willingham, Ross Coleman and L.J. Jenkins; Bandits: Shorty Gorham, Kody Lostroh, Brendon Clark and Douglas Duncan - they compete against one another in weekly challenges ranging from "the great log walk" and "paintball" competitions to a "drag race" and "lumberjack" competition using various Ford Trucks.
In their first challenge following the summer break, the Outlaws, led by two new team members - Willingham and Coleman - won a challenge known as "needle in a haystack," but the team still trails the Bandits 10-7 with a couple of months left.
"We're all super competitive and we hate losing," Snyder said, "but you can't stay sour very long, because the other guys will hack on you, so you just start laughing and get back into it. But every single challenge, we are super competitive. It's just in us."
Lostroh said, "It's fun to compete against your friends and it's been fun out here. I'm starting to feel bad for the other team. I think they might be losing heart because it's been a blowout."
Gorham added, "We're rubbing it in as much we can when we're on top. No one takes it to heart."
Earlier this year, the first half of the challenges were filmed on a ranch in Rancho Mission Viejo, where Gorham grew up just south of Anaheim, Calif., before becoming a bullfighter.
However, the current challenges were filmed north of Los Angeles at the famous Tejon Ranch and Disney's Golden Oak Ranch.
"There's no hiding anything," admitted Snyder. "We know it and we just drive the nail in even deeper, so to speak, and try to make each other cry."
Clash of the Cowboys also gives PBR fans an opportunity to enter for a chance to win a VIP trip for two to the World Finals in Las Vegas, plus a brand-new 2013 F-150 with EcoBoost.
"It's hard not watch the guys out in the challenges using the Ford truck in the manner in which they are, and know that they are having a good time using our product in an effective way," said Travis Calhoun, experiential marketing manager - Ford Trucks.
Calhoun added that Ford has integrated vehicles in several television shows, but nothing to this extent with trucks. They featured the Ford Escape in a series called "Escape Routes," and participated in another series called "Octane Academy."
However, Calhoun described Clash of the Cowboys as a unique experience with compelling content.
With only a few challenges left, the Outlaws trail by three wins and have little time left to make up the difference. The winning team will be awarded Ford buckles at the Finals, while a lucky fan will have a chance to win a brand new truck.
To this point, members of both teams agreed their favorite challenge was the "Raptor course," featuring the F-150 SVT Raptor.
"Being that we're all close friends, we don't take it easy on each other," said Lostroh, who is still surprised he lost a marksmanship challenge earlier in the season. "If you have thin hide, you're not going to make it around here because the razing gets pretty intense."
When asked about the camaraderie, Gorham noted, "We're here for a week at a time, hanging out with our buddies, doing some challenges and we're in a beautiful place. The weather's beautiful and, I think, everybody is seeing it on the TV screen. We have eight really good friends here competing against one another, and the reward at the end is bragging rights. And the winners are bragging."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC
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