The Amazing Race is a reality television game show in which teams of two race around the world in competition with other teams. Contestants strive to arrive first at the end of each leg of the race to avoid the possibility of elimination. Teams are progressively eliminated until three teams are left; at that point, the team who arrives first in the final leg is awarded a large cash grand prize. Created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, the original series has aired in the United States since 2001 and has earned seven Primetime Emmy Awards, including seven consecutive "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program" awards.
Contestants travel to and within multiple countries in a variety of transportation modes including planes, taxis, rental cars, trains and boats. The clues in each leg point the teams to the next destination or direct them to perform a task, either together or by a single member. Each task showcases the geographic region or indigenous culture and customs it is held in. If a team is in last place at the end of a leg of the race, they may be forced to stop competing or have a significant disadvantage in the following leg.
|The Amazing Race Season Index|
US (1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24)
In all seasons, with the exception of the "Family Edition" of Season 8, all teams are composed of two people with a preexisting relationship. Common relationships include married, dating, siblings, co-workers, parent-child, and friends.
Each leg of the race is comprised of teams departing the Pit Stop (or Starting Line) and traveling to a new destination or locale. Once there, the teams will perform tasks, typically at least one Roadblock and one Detour, and receive clues to their next destination upon completion of each task.
- Main article: Money
At the beginning of most legs, teams receive an equal amount of cash to purchase transportation, food, and other necessary items along the race. This money is usually given in U.S. Dollars regardless of the current location of the race. All teams also carry a credit card used to purchase economy airline tickets. This card may not be used in any other situation.
If a team spends all of their money or has it taken away in a non-elimination leg, they may try to get more money in any way that doesn't violate the local laws. This includes borrowing money from other teams, begging from locals or selling their possessions.
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Throughout the race, clues indicate tasks that teams must complete, directions where teams must go or other pertinent information that guide teams along the race. Most are retrieved out of Clue Boxes.
- Main article: Route Marker
Route Markers are the flags that mark the places where teams must go. Most Route Markers are attached to the boxes that contain clue envelopes, but some may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks.
Tells teams where to go next for their next clue box.
- Main article: Detour
A Detour is a choice between two tasks each with its own pros and cons. Teams must choose based on their rhyming names and brief instructions. Teams can opt to change their choice at any time during the challenge if they are having
difficulties. Generally one task will be physical while the other will require a certain skill or mental capabilities.
Memorable Detours include choosing between carrying cheese and digging in manure in Amsterdam on Season 4, carrying clay pots on their shoulders and building a shrine in Thailand on Season 9, and dress like a cow or learn an instrument in Kazakstan on Season 13.
- Main article: Roadblock
A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. Teams must choose one member to perform an unknown task, based solely on a riddle and their surroundings. They are not allowed to switch team members at any point, but the other team member may provide advice and support. Roadblocks are the only parts of the race where team members are separated from each other.
- Main article: Fast Forward
The Fast Forward is task that, when completed, a team can use to skip all other tasks and go directly to the Pit Stop. Each team is allowed only one Fast Forward per Race, and only one team can complete the Fast Forward challenge per leg. Obtaining the Fast Forward does not guarantee placing first.
Other Route MarkersEdit
In addition to the expected clues, teams may encounter other route markers and challenges.
- Main article: Intersection
The Intersection requires each team to pair up with one other team of their choice and perform all tasks and make decisions together until further notice. If no other teams are present when a given team arrives at the Intersection route marker, they must wait there until another team arrives.
- Main article: Speed Bump
A Speed Bump is an additional task assigned as a penalty for the team that checks in last during a non-elimination leg.
- Main article: U-Turn
The U-Turn is located immediately after a Detour. The U-Turn was introduced in Season 12. After completing a chosen Detour option, a team may use the U-Turn to force another team to also complete the other Detour option they did not originally choose. The Blind U-Turn and Double U-Turn variants also exist, as well as the U-Turn being used as a penalty for checking in last on a non-elimination leg.
- Main article: Yield
The Yield allows any one team to force another team to stop racing for a predetermined amount of time. The Yield was introduced in Season 5. From Season 6 onwards, when there was going to be a Yield, the teams would find the message "Caution, Yield Ahead" in their clue.
- Main article: Hazard
Introduced in Season 19, the Hazard is a penalty assessed to the team who finishes a Starting Line task in last place. The penalty has the potential to affect the team as long as they remain in the race.
- Main article: Pit Stop
Pit Stops are the final destination in each leg of the race. Each Pit Stop is a mandatory rest period which allows teams to eat, sleep, and mingle with each other. Teams have been greeted at every Pit Stop by Phil and a local of that country (typically dressed in the local costume), except in Season 1, when a local greeted them and Phil was only present to greet the last place team and inform them if they had been eliminated or saved by a non-elimination leg.
The last team to arrive at the Pit Stop is eliminated, barring any penalties, or unless that leg of the race is one of the predetermined non-elimination legs. In some legs, the first team to arrive wins a prize such as a vacation or cruise, which they receive after that particular season has aired on TV. The eliminations themselves have now earned the name "Philimination" in the Amazing Race fan community, a portmanteau of the host's name and the word "elimination".
- Main article: Superleg
Season 6 introduced the first double-length "superleg" shown over two episodes. The televised episode ended with a 'To Be Continued' message instead of a Pit Stop. The second half of the leg featured a second Detour and second Roadblock. Seasons 7, 8, 9 and 14 each had a superleg with teams meeting Keoghan on the usual Pit Stop mat at the midpoint, only to have him hand them the next clue instead of checking them in. In Season 10, the superleg did not involve meeting Keoghan, but rather teams were informed to "KEEP RACING!!!" in their next route marker. In addition, the 2-hour finale of Season 8 took place over a superleg similar to Season 6's. In Season 18, when the team arrived first in Pit Stop, they were giving a prize to completing the leg, but Phil told them to keep racing. In addition, the team (or teams) in last place would not be shown finishing the leg until the following episode, where they would be told that they are last and keep racing. This was used on first and fourth legs of that season.
- Main article: Surprise Eliminations
Season 10 introduced the first surprise elimination, when the last team to arrive at a checkpoint midway through the first leg was eliminated on the spot. At the end of the leg, there was a normal elimination at the mat, making it the first time two teams were eliminated in the same leg.
Season 15 made the second surprise elimination, where the last team remaining at the opening task of the Race was eliminated. However at the end of the leg, no one was eliminated at the Pit Stop as it was a non-elimination leg.
- Main article: Finish Line
Three teams compete in the last leg of the race. This first part of the leg includes intermediate destination(s) where the teams must travel to complete a series of tasks (Alaska, United States Seasons 1, 2, and 9; Hawaii, United States, Seasons 3, 4, 6 and 11; Calgary, Canada, Season 5; Puerto Rico, United States, Season 7; Montreal and Toronto, Canada, Season 8; Paris, France, Season 10). The second part of the leg has teams traveling to a final destination, usually located in a major U.S. city. Remaining teams must complete one or more tasks before receiving the clue directing them to the Finish Line. At the finish line, host Phil Keoghan and all the eliminated teams wait for the remaining teams to arrive.
The first team to reach the finish line wins the race and the top cash prize, which varies depending on the version of the show. All other teams win lesser amounts of money on a sliding scale based on their finishing order.
Ideally, all three remaining teams arrive at the finish line within a reasonable amount of time. On occasion, the third place team has fallen so far behind the other two teams that they cannot finish the race in a timely manner. In this case, after the other two teams finish, they are informed that the race is over at their next Route Marker (Joe and Bill, Season 1; David and Jeff, Season 4).
Rules and PenaltiesEdit
- Main article: Rules and Penalties
All teams must abide by the rules set at the beginning of the race. Failure to do so can result in time penalties, which can negatively affect finishing position in that leg of the race. While the complete set of official rules has not been released to the public, certain rules have been revealed during the various editions of the race. See Rules and Penalties for a complete list.
In Season 21, Double Your Money reward was earned by the team that came in first in the first leg of the race. Below are that statistics on possible disadvantages of coming in first on the first leg.
- Before the introduction of the Double Your Money reward, only 6 of the 20 winners were also the first place team on the first leg. This is now 7/24 as of the conclusion of the 24th season.
- The other fourteen first leg's winners were either made it to the finale (6/20 or 30%, now 6/22 27%) or were eliminated before the finale (8/20 or 11/24 now).
- However, the first place teams does do well on average. The first place teams average a fourth place finish.
Average placing for winners is 3.02 and Rachel & Dave is the only team in the US version who has won the race and have an average placing below 2.0. The worst winners in terms of average placing are Josh & Brent (4.58), Dan & Jordan (4.33), and Uchenna & Joyce (4.33).
- For an overview of the production of the American series, see The Amazing Race (US)#Production
The production of The Amazing Race is a challenge due to its premise being a race around the world. Among the difficult duties that producers face, scoping out locations, designing tasks, selecting teams, and planning logistics for the entire course are the most important to accomplish in pre-production. During the Race, the camera crews need to keep up with the movement of the teams and the host. And when the footage for the entire season has been filmed and edited, team members and crew are responsible for not leaking any spoilers that may hint at locations, events, or outcomes of the Race.
Through its efforts, the American version has received many accolades, including Primetime Emmy Awards and nominations in categories for audio and video production and editing.
- For an overview of Emmy nominations and awards and other accolades of the American series, see The Amazing Race (US)#Awards.