One of my favorite television shows is The Amazing Race. Even though I normally don’t like reality television, this is one show I will watch faithfully every Sunday night it’s on. I love watching the teams travel to all corners of the world, performing all kinds of physical and mental challenges in order to receive their next clue telling them of their next destination. A couple of years ago, I decided it was time to get off the couch and try out for the show myself. The only problem was finding a team mate.
In case you have not seen the show, the teams consist of two people with a unique relationship or a relationship dynamic interesting enough to make good television. Past seasons included teams of parents and kids, engaged couples, siblings and life long friends. I asked Juan if he would audition for the show with me and he flatly refused. There is nothing that stresses him out more than traveling, except maybe getting lost, two things that are sure to happen on The Amazing Race. I begged him but he wouldn’t do it, so I had to find another partner. I needed someone who had a spirit of adventure, was more athletically inclined than I was, and provided an interesting partner relationship. Then, it came to me, the perfect partner–Juan’s ex-wife! Why not? We were friendly. She loved to travel, and she liked to run, bike and had a sense of adventure. When I proposed the idea to her she accepted right away, without even ever having seen the show. Since the application period for the next season was closing, we worked quickly to complete our application, audition tape, and come up with a photo of our team. We also came up with a great team name–Juan’s Wives.
I felt we had a great idea, even if our last minute production of an audition tape didn’t exactly capture our personalities, surely The Amazing Race producers would want us? I was wrong, we didn’t even get a call back! My hopes for traveling the world, completing the challenges and winning the $1,000,000 prize money were dashed. I think Juan was relieved because he was afraid that we would get lost or even worse, we would kill each other on the show.
Even though I did not get a call back, my desire to do the race has not waned. This weekend I had a chance to run a different kind of race, one inspired by The Amazing Race, but one which did not require an audition. All I had to do was find a partner and pay the entrance fee. I found my race partner at work. Donna, is one of my collegues, and a fan of The Amazing Race. She also auditioned for the show, but like me, was never cast. When we learned we had this in common, we decided we would sign up for a local version of the race that is played like t.v. show, without all the stunts and exotic locations. Donna and I joined forces and became The Double D’s. We even bought matching team t-shirts.
The Amazing Los Angeles Race consists of teams of 2 – 4 players, and is part scavenger hunt, part puzzle challenge. The race began at a park near the Hollywood Bowl. At the start of the race, the teams opened envelopes we had been given. The envelopes contained a map and directions to help us locate our clue, which would provide us with our next location. Donna and I ran all over looking for the clue envelope. After huffing and puffing our way up and down the park, we finally found the clue envelope, solved the puzzle and proceeded to our first location. From there we were presented with another puzzle we had to solve and then we received the clue to the next location. It went on and on like that for 6 more rounds.
Getting clues, solving puzzles, racing to our next location. It was tough, running around all over town, making our way through the crowds and trying to stay ahead of the other racers. At one point Donna and I were racing through the throngs of Hollywood tourists and we knocked a balloon out of a kid’s hands. We apologized but didn’t stop to pick up the balloon. The puzzles we had to solve were not easy and the locations were far apart, requiring us to run from destination to destination, and in some cases take the Metro from Hollywood to Downtown Los Angeles. At the end of the race, we checked in with a perfect game. Not once did we call the help line to get a hint for the puzzle.
I wish I could say that our perfect game gave us the lead, but it didn’t. We finished about 15th in a field of 20 teams. Ah well. It was still a ton of fun! In the end, I realize how difficult it would be to do game like the real Amazing Race. I guess I was hoping the local version would satisfy my desire to do the show, but it didn’t. It just made me realize how much training I will need if I ever am lucky enough to do the real thing.