The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race is a reality television game show featuring anywhere from 8 to 12 teams of two racing across parts of the world to win a large sum of money. Contestants must race through a series of "legs", each ending with a Pit Stop. If a team is the last to arrive at a Pit Stop that is deemed an elimination point, they will be removed from the show and be out of the running for the grand prize. At the end of the race, which can be 10 to 13 legs long, the final three teams will race one more leg for the prize. It was originally created by Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri, who created the original series for American television. The series has since branched out with many international versions.
Teams are comprised of two people with a pre-existing relationship. Team members can be friends, family, co-workers or lovers, and can be made up of any combination of gender, age, race or sexual orientation. The only requirement is that contestants are legal residents of the country that the race is bring produced by (IE, America for The Amazing Race (United States)), and they must meet a certain age requirement (usually 21). Teams will remain with one-another for the entirety of the race.
The only race that has not had teams of two is the Family Edition of the original series, which featured families of four.
Rules for early seasons of the show stated that teams may not have a previous acquaintance with members of any other team, though this rule has been relaxed in later seasons.
Teams are accompanied by a two-person team of a cameraman and sound technician while they race. These production crews rotate between teams on each leg to avoid favoritism.
Some contestants have been celebrities, including beauty queens, alumni from other reality shows, and internet stars.
Teams are allotted a small amount of cash at the beginning of the leg. This is almost always given in US dollars, although international editions may use their own country's currency (for example, The Amazing Race: China Rush uses Chinese Yuan). Teams are not permitted to bring any of their own money onto the race and must only use the money given to them.
Teams can save their money at the end of each leg, and must use their money to purchase everything they need except for airline tickets, which have always been paid using pre-paid credits cards by production.
If a team runs out of money or loses their money (either by accident or due to a non-elimination penalty), their only option is to beg for money from the locals. However, teams must abide by local laws and not beg where it is prohibited.
Route Markers are flags used to mark the race route and indicate where teams should go. They are hung from most clue boxes, and can also mark doors, pathways and landmarks that teams should follow or take note of.
Route markers in the original season were yellow and white, but this was changed to yellow and red after teams complained that this color scheme was too hard to see. Yellow and red has become the standard that most versions use.
The Family Edition used a different color scheme; yellow, black and white.
The first two seasons of The Amazing Race (Latin America) used a black and blue color scheme, even on clue envelopes.
Additionally, the classic red and yellow color scheme previous could not be used while production visits Vietnam. This was because the former flag of South Vietnam also uses red and yellow stripes, and using the standard color scheme could be viewed as politically offensive. Different color schemes were used while in Vietnam. Most versions simply used yellow and white. The first visit to Vietnam, in season 3, used a solid yellow flag. The Amazing Race Australia 1 used a yellow and green color scheme, which coincidentally also matches up with Australia's national colors. Finally, The Amazing Race Vietnam used an orange and light green color scheme. Recently, this practice has been retired, with various versions of the show now using the traditional red and yellow flags.
One route marker on The Amazing Race Canada 1 used a red and yellow flag with a Chinese floral pattern, to represent Vancouver's Chinatown.
The standard clue that can be given to teams. Route Info contains explicit instructions that teams must follow. This can be anywhere from traveling to a building nearby to leaving the country and flying to another one. Occasionally, Route Info may present teams with an additional task to complete, such as taking part in a religious ceremony or making 120 empanadas. Teams will receive a penalty of varying degree if they fail to follow the instructions of a Route Info.
A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Teams are free to choose whichever of the two tasks they want to complete, and are free to switch between the tasks as often as they want until one is completed, with the only penalty being time lost. The tasks are often named using a theme, such as rhyming, alliteration, or opposites (Slide/Stride, Dance/Deliver, Air/Land). The penalty for not completing a Detour was previously 24 hours, but this has now been reduced to 6 hours. A team that has been U-Turned must complete both sides of the Detour.
A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. When teams receive the Roadblock clue, they can only open it up part way, with the inside of the card being sealed shut. Written on the outside will be a prompt such as "Who's really hungry?" or "Who wants to get down and dirty?". Teams must use this prompt to decide which one of them will complete the Roadblock. After making this decision, they can open up the clue and see the full details. Teams may not switch which team member is performing the Roadblock at all and, unless stated otherwise, the non-chosen team member may not help in any way.
Originally, there was no limit on how many Roadblocks a team member could complete, other than each team member must complete at least one by the end of the race. This was somewhat abused in The Amazing Race 5 when the top three teams (Chip & Kim, Colin & Christie and Brandon & Nicole) had the stronger, male teammates (Chip, Colin, Brandon) perform all but one of the Roadblocks. This gave a huge disadvantage to the all-female teams competing with them (Charla & Mirna, Kami & Karli, Linda & Karen). Starting in The Amazing Race 6, a limit was put in place where any individual contestant could perform no more than six Roadblocks on the entire race. This is the general limit for most seasons of the show, although sometimes the limit is raised to seven. Additionally, sometimes it is requires that no contestant perform more than five before the final leg, after which there are no more restrictions.
Some legs will feature two Roadblocks. Usually, the person that performs the first Roadblock will not be allowed to complete the second one; their partner must do it.
The penalty for not completing a Roadblock is traditionally four hours, although some international versions have lowered this to one or two hours. In some versions of the show, the penalty must be served at the Roadblock's location (early versions of the show stated that the penalty started when the next team arrived at the Roadblock location). Other versions of the show serve the penalty at the Pit Stop. This is usually done to avoid completely negating the penalty due to operating hours.
A Fast Forward is given in addition to another clue (Route Info, Detour or Roadblock). Any team is free to pursue it, and the first team to successfully complete it will be permitted to skip all other tasks in the leg and proceed directly to the Pit Stop. Any other team that is currently attempting it or travels to its location afterwards will be turned away and forced to return to the point in the race where they received the Fast Forward clue. A team may not take more than one Fast Forward in the course of the race.
Early seasons of the race had a Fast Forward on every leg of the race except for the final two. This provided an interesting dynamic where teams had to carefully choose when to expend their Fast Forward privileges. However, this caused a lot of wasted money because many Fast Forwards had to be set up, but then no team even considered taking them. The amount was reduced to two and then later one. At one point, the Fast Forward was even briefly retired.
Some international versions have Fast Forwards, while some do not at all. Most versions only have one, but some have two or even three.
A Pit Stop marks the end of a leg of the race. It is represented by a stylized mat with a map of the world on it. Both team members must be standing on the mat to be officially checked in. The last team to reach the Pit Stop will be eliminated, unless the leg has been pre-determined as a non-elimination leg.
A Pit Stop usually provides teams with a rest period between legs. In the past, this rest period was explicitly 12 hours, but its length has become more varied as time has passed. However, a Pit Stop does not guarantee a rest period. Sometimes, the leg may not be over, and team will be handed their next clue immediately and be forced to begin the next leg.
Pit Stops in the first season were representative of which country they were in. Seasons 2 and 3 had a solid black mat with a red and yellow border. Pit Stops after this have been the same, but with the addition of the map of the world. In international versions with differently colored route markers, the colors of the Pit Stop usually match.
Anywhere from one to four legs of a race can be pre-determined non-elimination legs, wherein the last team to arrive will not be eliminated. However, the team will usually be given some sort of penalty or disadvantage in the next leg as punishment for arriving last. Many different penalties have been used over the course of the series:
- The first four seasons had no penalty whatsoever. Occasionally, international versions do not give out a penalty either (such as Amazing Race (France))
- Teams may be required to give up all of the money in their possession, and will not receive any money in the following leg. Additionally, they may not beg for money or build funds during the rest period between legs (ie, they must begin the next leg with $0 to their name)
- In addition to the above penalty, teams may also be required to relinquish all of their possessions except their passports and the clothes they are presently wearing.
- Teams may be Marked for Elimination. In this case, they must arrive in first place in the next leg, or they will receive a time penalty. The penalty is traditionally 30-minutes, but some international versions have used other lengths of time.
- The above penalty may be combined with the money-losing penalty. In this case, a team will not be required to give up their money immediately upon arriving last on a non-elimination leg. However, if they do not arrive first in the next leg (and are not eliminated), they then must give up their money.
- Teams may be required to complete a Speed Bump or Handicap on the next leg (See related articles or see below)
Introduced in The Amazing Race 5, the Yield is an obstacle that teams may use to hinder another team behind them. When a team arrives at the Yield board, they may choose another team to Yield. The chosen team will have to flip an hourglass and wait for the sand to run out before they would continue racing.
The Yielding team would have to place a small sticker with their own picture on the board as well, identifying themselves as the perpetrators. Teams are given these "Courtesy of" stickers at the beginning of the race. If they lose these stickers, they will not be able to use the Yield.
Teams are not aware of which teams are ahead of and behind them upon arrival at the Yield. As such, it is possible that a team may attempt to Yield someone that is ahead of them. In this case, the Yield will be ineffective. This has only ever happened once.
A team can only use the Yield once during the race (as represented by the single "Courtesy of" sticker they receive). However, a team can be Yielded any number of times. Additionally, a team is still free to use the U-Turn after using the Yield.
The Yield was retired after The Amazing Race 11 and replaced by the U-Turn in the American version. However, it is still in use in international versions.
International versions have introduced the Anonymous Yield. In this case, the Yielding team will not have to use their "Courtesy of" sticker to identify themselves as having used the Yield, thus remaining anonymous. As such, they will still be able to use a regular Yield, should one appear later in the race (as they still have their sticker)
Some international versions have introduced a more unique version of the Yield, wherein each team must vote for a Yield target at the beginning of the leg. The team that receives the most votes will be Yielded at some point during the leg. This is sometimes known as a Must-Vote Yield.
A twist that was created by accident during The Amazing Race 6. Sometimes, at the point where a leg would usually end with a Pit Stop, teams will receive a clue that says "Head to the mat where [the host] is waiting..." instead of referring to a Pit Stop. When teams arrive at the mat, the host will hand them their next clue and inform them that the leg is not yet over and they must continue racing. Thus, the leg will be "double-length" and contain two Detours and two Roadblocks.
This practice has been retired in favor of the No-Rest leg, which makes the leg structure less confusing.
The Intersection is a point where two teams must mutually agree to join together and complete a set of tasks together until further notice, essentially creating a temporary team of four. Teams may be required to complete an additional Route Info task, a Detour, or a Roadblock, where one team member from each team would complete the Roadblock together. Intersected teams may also have the option to complete a Fast Forward, allowing for both of them to win it. The teams remain together until a clue tells them "teams are no longer joined by the Intersection."
Introduced in The Amazing Race 12, the U-Turn is an obstacle that teams can use to slow down a team behind them. It always appears at the end of a Detour. When a team arrives at the U-Turn board, they may choose another team to U-Turn. The chosen team will have to turn back and complete the side of the Detour that they did not already complete.
Originally, the U-Turning team would have to place a small sticker with their own picture on the board as well, identifying themselves as the perpetrators. Teams are given these "Courtesy of" stickers at the beginning of the race. If they lose these stickers, they will not be able to use the U-Turn. However, more recent seasons have utilized an electronic U-Turn board with touch screens, eliminating the need for the stickers.
Teams are not aware of which teams are ahead of and behind them upon arrival at the U-Turn. As such, it is possible that a team may attempt to U-Turn someone that is ahead of them. In this case, the U-Turn will be ineffective. This has happened numerous times.
A team can only use the U-Turn once during the race (as represented by the single "Courtesy of" sticker they receive). However, a team can be U-Turned any number of times. Additionally, a team is still free to use the Yield after using the U-Turn.
A couple twists have been added to the U-Turn. One of these is the Blind U-Turn. In this case, the U-Turning team will not have to use their "Courtesy of" sticker to identify themselves as having used the U-Turn, thus remaining anonymous. As such, they will still be able to use a regular U-Turn, should one appear later in the race (as they still have their sticker)
More recently, the U-Turn has evolved into the Double U-Turn. All American seasons use this variation exclusively, as do many international versions. In this case, two teams may use the U-Turn on two other teams. If a team arrives and discovers they've been U-Turned, they are free to U-Turn someone else before completing their second Detour (provided the second U-Turn is still unused).
Additionally, the two above twists can be combined into a Blind Double U-Turn.
Some international versions have introduced a more unique version of the U-Turn, wherein each team must vote for a U-Turn target at the beginning of the leg. The team that receives the most votes will be U-Turned after the leg's Detour. This is sometimes known as a Must-Vote U-Turn.
A team that does not complete their second Detour after being U-Turned may receive a smaller penalty than the usual 6-hour penalty for not completing a Detour (depending on the version of the show)
The Speed Bump is one of the penalties teams can receive for arriving last on a non-elimination. It is basically an extra task that only the penalized team has to complete. At some point during the leg following the non-elimination leg, teams will encounter a Speed Bump board with the penalized team's picture on it. At that point, the penalized team must complete their Speed Bump before receiving their next clue and continuing with the race. This is the standard penalty in the American version.
Recent editions of the race have featured returns to infamous or extremely memorable tasks from previous races. These are known as Switchbacks. They can be a Roadblock, a Fast Forward, or an additional Route Info task. Switchbacks sometimes occur in the same location as the original task, but sometimes they can occur in totally different locations.
The Express Pass is a prize given out to teams that arrive first on certain pre-determined legs early in the race, often the first leg. The Express Pass can then be used to completely skip any task that the team does not wish to complete. It can be used on a Detour, Roadblock, or additional Route Info task, but cannot be used on a Fast Forward. It is unknown if it can be used to skip the second Detour task if a team has been U-Turned.
In most editions, it is stated that the Express Pass cannot be used past the 8th leg of the race. However, in some editions this limitation is not stated. It is unknown if it exists for these versions.
In The Amazing Race 22, a second Express Pass was introduced. This second Pass cannot be used by the team that arrived first and won it. It instead must be given to another team before the third leg of the race ends. In The Amazing Race 27, this was combined into a single Express Pass that had to be given to another team after it was initially used.
The Save, introduced in The Amazing Race 25, is awarded to the team that comes in first on the first leg. It allows the team holding it to avoid elimination one time until the end of Leg 9. It was discontinued in The Amazing Race 27.
Similar in concept to double-length legs, some legs will end with a Pit Stop, but the host will hand them their next clue and inform them that the next leg is beginning immediately. The difference between this and double-length legs is that the two parts are counted as two separate legs, and the team that arrives first may win a prize. The last team to arrive on these legs is usually not penalized.
Introduced in The Amazing Race 19, the Hazard is a similar concept to the Speed Bump. The 19th season featured a challenge at the starting line, and the last team to complete it would be forced to complete the Hazard, an extra task only for them, some time during the first leg of the race. It has not re-appeared since.
The Face Off is a point in the race where two teams will meet and compete head-to-head in a challenge. The winner of the challenge will receive their next clue, while the loser must remain at the task and wait for the next team to arrive. They will they battle again. This will continue until only one team is left behind. That team will have to wait out a 15-minute penalty before receiving their next clue.
This originally appeared in The Amazing Race en Discovery Channel 2 under the name of the Intersection. It was later used in recent seasons of HaMerotz LaMillion with the name "Double-Battle". It then also returned to the "Intersection" monicker in The Amazing Race Norge 2.
The Salvage Pass was introduced in The Amazing Race Australia 2, and has only been used by international versions of the race. It is awarded to the team that finishes in first on the first leg of the race. They can use it to either gain a time advantage or to save the team that arrives in last on the first leg from elimination, allowing them to continue racing without penalty. The time advantage teams can gain varies from version to version. In the Australian version, they would be able to leave the Pit Stop one hour earlier. In the Philippines version, they could use it on any later leg to begin a task a half-hour before anyone else (such as bypassing hours of operation).
The Handicap is the non-elimination penalty utilized in The Amazing Race Norge. At some point during the leg following the non-elimination leg, one additional task in the leg will be marked with the Handicap icon, along with a picture of the penalized team. This additional task will be harder in some way for the penalized team, such as having more objects for them to make than others. Occasionally, a Handicap will appear at the beginning of a Detour, forcing the penalized team to complete both Detours, similar to a U-Turn.
- Unless otherwise stated, such as during Roadblocks, team members must stay within twenty feet of each other and stay close to their assigned camera and sound crew. When using any form of transportation, unless otherwise stated, teams must be able to travel with the camera crew. Teams are recorded requesting only two tickets after they have made their initial request for four. When teams travel by rickshaw/tuk-tuk, which can only seat two, teams must hire two separate vehicles, one for them and one for their crew.
- Teams are required to purchase economy class airfare when they fly, using the credit card provided by the show. The airline, at its discretion however may upgrade the team(s) for so long as there are no additional costs. Teams may use their cash stipend to purchase first-class fares for other modes of transportation. Teams may be forbidden from flying on certain airlines or restricted to specific airlines in some cases. In some seasons, such as The Amazing Race 1 or The Amazing Race 25, teams may only purchase one set of airline tickets.
- Teams are prohibited from contacting friends, family, and acquaintances during the Race without supervision. The Race however may provide them with an opportunity to contact them at select times. When this happens while the race is going on, teams are not allowed to proceed to their next task. In special circumstances the production team will allow racers to contact family members outside of a race-required task.
- Unless otherwise stated by the clues, teams are allowed to use the help of locals for navigating and during tasks. Teams are required to have any locals who appear on camera sign release forms that legally clear the footage for use; some teams have avoided or reduced contacts with random local strangers because the release process can take a very long time to complete.
- Teams are free to work together at any point unless otherwise stated by the rules. Excluding the use of the Yield and U-Turn, teams are prohibited from hindering the performance of other teams such as by taking extra clues from a clue box, taking another team's assigned vehicle, altering the equipment for other teams at a task or using more than one Yield or one U-Turn at a time.
- Teams are prohibited from possessing maps, guidebooks, cell phones, personal digital assistants and other similar aids at the start of the Race, but may use the provided money to purchase these as they progress. These may be provided by the show if required for a certain task.
- Teams are prohibited from using their personal items to barter for services on the race. The teams' bags may be subject to review during Pit Stops by production. Teams are free to sell or barter any items they have purchased during the course of the race.
- As of The Amazing Race 17, in cases where teams are instructed to walk or drive themselves to a destination, teams are not allowed to hire a taxi to guide or take them through the route.
- Teams are expected to keep the Race fanny pack containing their cash, passports, clues, and other documents with them at all times. Teams that do not have these upon check-in at a Pit Stop are required to go back and retrieve the pack and any missing mandatory contents (e.g., passports) before being checked in. Teams may check in after losing or abandoning any non-mandatory items (e.g., items of clothing), but they must continue the race without them.
- Teams must complete each challenge as specified by the clues given to them throughout the Race. Should a team fail to properly complete a challenge, violate any provisions made in a clue or task description, or miss a clue altogether (unless specifically allowed to do so, e.g., by winning the Fast Forward, or by using an Express Pass), they must either go back to the location of the challenge and complete the challenge, or incur a penalty when they check in (see Penalties and time credits below).
- Should two teams arrive at an elimination point at the same time, the team with the lower place in the previous Leg is eliminated.
- Teams are prohibited from begging where it is illegal. On the U.S. version, teams are additionally prohibited from begging at U.S. airports.
- Racers may not smoke on the Race.
- Teams are required to abide by all local laws of the country on which they are racing.
In addition to the previously mentioned penalties for failing to complete a Detour, Roadblock or Additional task, other penalties may be given is teams break rules:
- Teams that do not fly on economy class receive a 24-hour penalty.
- Teams that do not complete a Speed Bump receive a 4-hour penalty.
- Teams will receive a penalty if they follow directions incorrectly (IE, if they disembark at the incorrect train station). In early editions, the convention was to issue a penalty of 30 minutes plus any time gained (or minus any time actually lost). However, a general 30-minute penalty is now applied.
- Speeding can sometimes incur penalties, but sometimes will not. If clues specifically outline a speed limit that teams must follow, they will receive a penalty based on how severely they broke the speed limit. Otherwise, teams will only receive a penalty if they are stopped by law enforcement and given a ticket. However, this is not always enforced, and seems to be up to the discretion of producers.
- Teams that break a specifically outlined rule will receive a penalty, usually 30-minutes.
- Teams can be given penalties as a result of performing poorly in the race (Marked for Elimination, losing the Face Off)
- Teams can receive small penalties for incorrectly performing Roadblocks. This can involve the non-chosen team member helping the chosen one, or opening the Roadblock clue before deciding who will perform the task.
- Teams that break rules or miss clues can sometimes be turned away upon arrival at the Pit Stop and will not be allowed to check in until they correct their mistake. This can happen if teams travel to the Pit Stop using the wrong form of transportation, if teams miss a clue along the route, or if teams do not pay their taxi fare.
|Region/country||Local title||Network||Years||Host|| Visited
Past & Current
|Asia||The Amazing Race Asia||AXN Asia||2006–2008, 2010, 2016||Allan Wu||20 countries||5||$100,000|
|Australia||The Amazing Race Australia||Seven Network||2011–||Grant Bowler||27 countries||3||A$250,000|
|Brazil||The Amazing Race: A Corrida Milionária||RedeTV!||2007–2008||Rony Curvelo|| 10 States +
1 external country
|Canada||The Amazing Race Canada||CTV||2013–||Jon Montgomery|| 10 provinces, 3 territories +
10 external countries
|5|| C$500,000 |
in cash & prizes (Seasons 1-2, 4-5)
in cash & prizes (Season 3)
|The Amazing Race Central Europe||AXN Central Europe||Cancelled||$100,000|
|China|| The Amazing Race: China Rush
(Season 1 – 3)
(Season 2 – 3)
|2010–2012||Allan Wu|| 18 provinces +
1 external country
|3||Trip around the World|
| The Amazing Race: Jisu Qianjin
|Shenzhen TV||2014-|| Andy On
(Season 1; Episodes 1-2)
(Season 1; Episode 3 - )
|24 countries||4|| Two Infiniti Cars(Seasons 1-2)|
CN¥1,000,000 (Season 1)
CN¥50,000 to Donate (Season 2)
Pearl Necklace(Season 3)
Heiheiru Products to Donate (Season 4)
|France||Amazing Race||D8||2012–||Alexandre Delpérier||7 countries||1||€50,000|
|Israel|| HaMerotz LaMillion
Hebrew: המירוץ למיליון
| Channel 2 (Reshet)
|2009, 2011–|| Raz Meirman
|Latin America|| The Amazing Race
en Discovery Channel (Season 1–2)
Portuguese: no Discovery Channel
Edição Brasil (Season 4)
Ecuador (Season 6)
| Discovery Channel
|2009–|| Harris Whitbeck
|15 countries||6|| $250,000(Seasons 1-5)|
|Norway||The Amazing Race Norge||TV 2||2012–||Freddy dos Santos||13 countries||2|| NOK 500,000,|
2 Subaru cars
|Philippines||The Amazing Race Philippines||TV5||2012-||Derek Ramsay||11 regions||2|| ₱2,000,000|
|Ukraine|| Velyki perehony
|1+1||2013–||Alexander "Fozzy" Sidorenko||8 countries||1||₴500,000|
|United States||The Amazing Race||CBS||2001–||Phil Keoghan||88 countries||29||$1,000,0001|
|Vietnam|| The Amazing Race Vietnam
Vietnamese: Cuộc đua kỳ thú
| VTV3 (Seasons 1-2, 4)
VTV6 (Season 3, 5)
|2012-|| Dustin Nguyen
(Seasons 2-3, 5)
| 33 provinces +
4 external countries
- In season 21, if a team were to arrive in first on both the first and last legs, they would win $2,000,000