The St. Petersburg Times reports that Eco-Challenge, the show that first put Mark Burnett on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, returns for the ninth time on Monday, May 5 through Thursday, May 8 on the USA Network in the U.S.

According to the article, this is the last Eco-Challenge under the contract between Burnett, who has since become world famous for his Survivor US franchise, and USA.

This Eco-Challenge competition took place in October 2002 in Fiji -- a seven-day trek through dense jungle. Few of the original 81 teams were able to complete the demanding course. One of the contestants quotes Burnett as saying, "If four or five teams finish the race, I'll be happy."

To provide viewers with comic relief from the trekking struggles, Burnett has included a number of teams with less-stellar credentials. One team includes Ethan Zohn, the winner of Survivor: Africa, and Jenna Lewis from Survivor: Pulau Tiga. Another team includes Playboy bunnies. A third team is made up of the family of actor Hayden Christopher (Anakin Skywalker in the last Star Wars episode).

Episodes air at 10 PM EDT on Monday through Wednesday and at 9 PM (just after Survivor airs on CBS) on Thursday on USA.

Speculation is that Burnett's next stop with Eco-Challenge, now that the USA Networks contract has ended, is on one of the major networks (Burnett is currently developing two new reality shows for NBC). Whether Eco-Challenge can retain its credibility as the premier trekking event in the world while reaching a mass audience remains to be seen -- but we'd never bet against Mark Burnett when it comes to his first love.