The Challenge All Stars 3 Player Preview: Mark Long
The most challenging part about writing this blog is that I have to resist not writing out Mark Long’s full name every time I mention him. This man is an icon of Reality TV, so much so that it feels wrong just to call him Mark; he’s either Mark Long or the Godfather. I will pretend he’s a close friend and call him Mark for brevity’s sake.
After speaking the greatness that is Challenge All Stars into existence, Mark Long shined, making it to the Final, finishing top 3 among men, and proving he was still a badass. Mark is back for All Stars 3 and is bound to be a contender to win.
Mark’s Cheat Sheet (TLDR Version)
Introducing Mark Long: One of the OGs of Reality TV, Mark Long got cast on the first season of Road Rules and then the second season of the Challenge (the first to include Road Rulers). A fun fact is Mark was actually almost on the Real World San Francisco and was brought in as a potential houseguest to replace Puck. Mark immediately made his mark as a competitor and personality on the Challenge. He was someone who killed the competitions, always performed for the cameras, and did so while looking good and having the vibe of being the coolest guy at the party.
Mark won his first season (though there were no eliminations), then went back on the Challenge in hosting roles, doing the reunions, and was the official host for OG Battle of the Seasons alongside Eric Nies. He returned as a competitor for Battle of the Sexes 1. Through dominant performance in the challenges and an excellent social game, Mark outlasted 15 vote-outs to make the Final. It must get noted that Battle of the Sexes is statistically the hardest Finals to qualify for in Challenge history. He won the Final of Sexes 2 with his team and became a 2x Champion. Mark showed up again for Battle of the Sexes 2, got through 14 vote outs this time, and had a spot in the Final, except he cut a deal with the other three men where they would all share the winnings, and he would give them glory as he was already a 2x Champ. This means Mark could have easily 3-peated and done so with two of the wins coming from statistically difficult seasons to win.
Very random sidenote: Mark was part of the Gameshow Network series: Extreme Dodgeball as a member of the Reef Sharks team. It was a show I absolutely loved and watched non-stop as a kid. If I ever interviewed him, I would probably not even ask a single Challenge question; it would be all dodgeball-related.
He did the Gauntlet 2 as part of the Vets team, made it to the Final, and never had to sweat the idea of elimination as his team was never going to vote him into elimination. Unfortunately, Mark and the Vets team couldn’t pull out the win. Mark retired at the reunion for that season yet made a massive return for The Duel 2. This season, Mark got to shine as an individual, winning multiple daily challenges, never once getting called out into a Duel due to his political game and the fear he struck into people as a 6'3 monster of a human. The Duel 2 Final between Mark, Brad, and Evan was neck and neck, with the players separated by seconds until they hit a checkpoint where they had to wait for a female partner. Mark being in 3rd at the time of the checkpoint led to him having to wait eons for Aneesa to show up and dooming his shot of winning. Like a champ, Mark took the terrible twist in stride and supported Aneesa to the finish line.
Another Challenge retirement would occur, only for Mark to return for Exes 1. Partnered with Robin, the two performed well in the challenges and made it to the last elimination, only to fall short of the Final. As new younger competitors fed into the main show, Mark got older yet still was kicking their asses in challenges. While Mark stayed active in the community, we wouldn’t see him compete for over half a decade. Enter a pandemic and some inspiration, and Mark campaigns for an OG season that gets enough support that we now have these All Stars seasons, which have been absolute bangers. Even at 49-years-old, Mark continued to be awesome in the challenges as he won a lifeshield, an elimination, and the last individual immunity of the season en route to a solid 3rd Place finish in the men’s division of the Final.
Player Vitals & Stats
Mark Long: 6'3, 50 Years Old, 220 lbs, 7 Seasons, 0–1 Elimination Record, 2x Champion, 3x Finalist, 1 All Star Season, 1x All Star Finalist, 1–0 All Star Elimination Record
Skills and Physical Strength: For starters, Mark is a mammoth of a man. What makes Mark unique as a competitor is that he’s still exceptionally agile and coordinated despite being a massive human being. The guy is half a century old, yet, I know if the challenge involves heights, balance beams, or traversing a rope bridge, Mark will excel. Seriously, Mark is power incarnate; usually, big guys struggle when it comes to core strength and lifting themselves, not Mark; he moves like someone 40 lbs. lighter.
Mark is a good swimmer, a capable eater, and is fearless in most challenges. His cardio for a man his age & size is quite remarkable. Big guys often have trouble holding up in long-distance runs, let alone men in their 50s. You’re unlikely to see Mark quit in a Final.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: He has only got voted into elimination one time in his entire Challenge career, and it was when there were only two options for the last elimination of Exes 1. Mark manages his social relationships better than anyone. No matter what the alliance lines are, people love and trust Mark. For god sake, part of the reason this show exists is that Mark reached out to so many people about whether they would be opening to do an OGs season, and so many of them were willing to listen because it’s the Godfather.
Generally, Mark has not needed to play an overtly strategic because for most of his career; he’s always been a top player with the belief that if he can get to the Final, he can win. That might not be true anymore, as there are men more built to win Finals than him. Instead of being everyone’s friend, Mark may need to make some big moves and create some waves if he wants to win another championship. Mark is average to below average with puzzles in terms of the mental game.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Mark’s only ever seen two eliminations. The first was a Pole Wrestle against Johnny Bananas, where he may not have had intentions to win (I personally think Mark could have beaten the brakes off of Johnny if he wanted). His other elimination was his tug-of-war against Laterrian, where they had a pretty epic and long battle that he would pull out 2 to 1. I think Mark’s size would intimidate most people in headbangers, and he’s likely to do well in anything overtly physical.
Can Mark win? Even though Mark has good cardio for his age/build, multiple players can outpace him in a Final. Mark never struggled in the All Stars 1 Final; he just couldn’t keep up with Darrell & Yes. For Mark to win, he needs to make sure those guys aren’t there, along with Jordan. There’s only a limited amount of eliminations and so many shots, so that’s a tall order. As long as Mark wants to go to the Final, I like his chances of making it based on his experience, talent, and social game.