Neely Fortune Is An Ultra-Marathoner Who's Training To Be A 'Camp Getaway' Reality Star

- Camp Getaway -
Neely Fortune Is An Ultra-Marathoner Who's Training To Be A 'Camp Getaway' Reality Star

Neely Fortune was in the middle of running a marathon when we spoke. The 28-year-old pageant queen turned survivalist turned ultra-marathoner turned reality star had just finished 10 of the 26.2 miles — "I'm going to go out and do 16 more [miles] by the end of the day!", she tells me with a lot of enthusiasm — when she popped into her parents' home in Florida to quickly chat with me about the new reality show she's on, Bravo's Camp Getaway, before finishing her run.

Neely would normally be home in New York City's Harlem where she shares an apartment with her roommates, but she went down to her folks' place in Florida about two months ago to escape the city's Coronavirus chaos.

Her roommates, by the way, happen to be Miss Wisconsin USA and Miss Delaware USA from 2016, the same year that Neely was Miss Vermont USA. Neely's background (so far you've got marathoner and beauty queen) is fascinating and adding "reality star" to her resume just makes it even more interesting.

Let's start at the beginning and work our way up to Camp Getaway, shall we? Neely grew up in Arizona, but moved around a lot, ultimately spending the most time in Vermont. She attended the University of Vermont and majored in wildlife biology with a minor in forestry, which led her on a path to become a survival skills teacher and outdoor educator.

Spending time in the outdoors inspired her to start trail running and explore ultra-marathons (running 50 miles is her happy place, but she's done up to 100 miles, she tells me). The extreme running, interestingly enough, motivated her to take on pageantry; she was searching for ways to push herself even further (because for some people, running 100 miles isn't enough) and pageants were definitely out of her comfort zone.

"I had never, ever pictured myself doing a pageant, which is why I wanted to do it. It was so scary to me," she says. Just so happens, she's great at it: Neely became 2016's Miss Vermont USA and went on to compete in the Miss USA pageant. (She didn't finish in the top 15, but did make a "friend in every single state.")

"It was a once in a lifetime experience," she says. She was able to "compete at a really high level at something I had worked really hard for."

I'm still not over the whole running a 100 miles thing, but I'll add here that according to Syracuse.com, Neely also completed (and was one of 12 people to complete the race) in one of the most intense obstacle courses/races ever: The Death Race, described as the toughest race in the world. Hosted by a company called Spartan Races, the Death Race currently involves running a marathon while carrying a 50 pound sandbag, doing 3,000 burpees, climbing 26.2 miles of rope, and more.

Neely now works for Spartan Race. She teaches a survival skills curriculum centered around the Death Race and the Agoge Race. "I'll lead the participants through different survival tasks based on whatever country or environment we're in," she explains. She was in Greece for the last race and before that, Namibia. When she's not traveling for a race, she can work remotely.

It was that ability to work from home that led her to move from Vermont to New York City. "Coming from Vermont to New York was kind of a culture shock and a big change for me. I was a little bit overwhelmed in the city," she says.

Then, someone told her about this escape outside the city called Camp Getaway (it's actually called Club Getaway when it's referenced anywhere else but the show), and she was interested. "I went and it was so much fun, then I got involved with Bravo after that."

So someone was just, like, 'Come to camp! By the way, do you want to be on a reality show?'

"Yeah, along those lines!" Neely tells me. "When an opportunity comes my way I try not to say no to it. Much like pageantry and the running, it was kind of like, 'Why not?'" Her family and friends were supportive of the idea, especially her mom, who, along with Neely, is a huge Bravo fan.

Image: Bravo

Neely loves Below Deck and actually asked for "how-to-be-on-a-Bravo-reality-TV-show advice" from Below Deck Mediterranean Season 4 third stew turned chef turned third stew Anastasia Surmava. Anastasia and Neely were the same year at the University of Vermont. "I had never met her," she says, "but she was really good friends with one of my roommates from college." Neely texted Anastasia, who reassured her that the experience was going to be amazing.

For what it's worth, Camp Getaway has a similar set up to Below Deck: the guests rotate every week, but the staff stays the same. Neely is one of those staffers — they're called social coordinators — who works at Camp Getaway every weekend in the summer. Her job, along with her seven fellow cast mates and coordinators, is to cater to the adult campers who descend onto the 300-acre Kent, Conn., campus for 60 hours of acting out their wildest summer camp fantasies. Just this time around, there's free-flowing booze in place of Bug Juice.

"Our job is to help people make connections. If you feel like somebody isn't connecting, you're their connection," she says. "You make a lot of friends during your happy hours or at the parties. Your job at the parties is to party."

Image: Bravo

Sometimes at the parties, you're also responsible for bringing out a cake for a guest/camper's 40th birthday. In the premiere of Camp Getaway, Neely and her fellow social coordinator Nile Lundgren are tasked with presenting this birthday cake later in the night, but they deliver it early — the guest was pleased, but Neely and Nile's boss Claire Sorrels, was not.

"The cake! I will never live it down," Neely says with a laugh. Claire reprimanded Neely and Nile for ruining the vibe of the party and disrupting the other guests. It's hard to choose a side here — it's a cake. at camp. who cares.— but the staff took it seriously, and Neely is not used to making mistakes.

"Even though the whole cake-gate incident kind of seems like not a big deal, it was to me, just because that was my day one. That was my chance to really set myself up for a good summer. To start off on that note was frustrating to me more than anything," she says.

"I felt like I wasn't doing the best I could, but also felt like I didn't know what I was doing, which is not a feeling that I'm used to having." She continues: "As you could probably tell … When I go into a job, I tend to take it very seriously."

Knowing her background and her competitive, be-your-best-self spirit, helps put her serious reaction to silly "cake-gate" into an understandable context.

Neely says it took her a couple weeks to trust her decision-making at Camp Getaway, but she was soon able to find her groove. Making friends helped. "I'm particularly close to the ladies on the show," she says. "We kind of stuck together. Also, Glen [North] is my BFF" — they FaceTime every other day or so.

As for the cast as a whole, "We've been Zoom chatting, just kind of catching up and supporting each other about the show coming out."

As she gears up for the season, Neely's excited about what watching herself on a reality show can teach her. "Of course, I'm nervous about seeing myself from kind of an outside perspective," she says. "I know there's going to be moments when I'm cringing at myself, but I try not to regret anything, and instead learn from it."

Before Neely hangs up the phone to go finish her marathon in the Florida heat (it was 89 degrees that day), I ask her to rank the hardest things she's done. "Pageantry would be top of the list [as the hardest]," she says. "Then reality show, then survival skills, and ultra running."

If you ever wondered if it was harder to be on a reality show or to run a Death Race, now you have your answer.

Camp Getaway airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo, starting May 4.

Read more about the Camp Getaway cast:

Feature Image: Bravo Media

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