This is literally and figuratively the Million Dollar Question. Each year 12 teams attempt to do this, yet each year 11 teams fail. What’s the secret? I think we’ve figured it out.
Make a smart alliance
If you’ve seen any reality show, you’ve probably heard the term “alliance” or heard discussion about how a person or a team should go about “forming an alliance”. Yet, after all this time, it’s amazing how many reality show contestants still suck at doing this. In the Amazing Race, forming a smart alliance can be the difference between surviving and going home. But, what teams are the best to form an alliance with? Let’s take a look
The Strongest Team – It’s never a bad idea to hitch yourself to the strongest horse in the race. If you form a strong alliance with them, there’s a good chance they can help carry you through some legs of the race you wouldn’t have been able to do on your own. In turn, since everyone will be coming after the strongest team, they’ll be more than welcoming to invite you into their alliance in order to protect themselves. This is a win-win situation.
The Best Looking Team – If you’re going to spend a ton of time with one team, you might as well find the best looking team. Every year, the Race either has a “model” team, a “country music singer” team, or just straight up “a hot chick” team. Find this team and immediately approach them with an alliance. Will this help you win the race? Maybe. But, if you’re going to travel around the world with a team, you might as well double up on the scenery.
The Least Confident Team – This team is the most interesting. Find a team that thinks they need you more than you need them. If you can control the habits and decisions of another team, you’ll be able to continually keep yourself in an advantageous position. Worst-case scenario? If it’s the two of you left, you know you’re a stronger team. Preying on the weak is a great strategy in any competition, unless you’re the weakest link, in which case this kind of sucks.
Lend a helping hand
Often times in the Amazing Race, you can find yourself in a “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours later” type deal with another team. This is almost always a good situation to be in. You never know when you’ll need help trying to find a clue or complete a task, and having another team owe you a favour can be a reassuring feeling. Also, nobody wants to look like an asshole on TV so if you help them out, they will more than likely return the favor.
Making sound decisions
One of the biggest problem teams have on the race is making a huge error when deciding what Detour they should do. Always, ALWAYS, do the task that requires a primary skill you know you have. Even if it takes longer, knowing you have the required skill to complete the task will give you the reassurance that you know you will complete it, even if it takes a little bit longer. Lets take a look at an example from a couple of seasons ago:
Option 1: Jump in a canoe with your partner, paddle all the way out into the ocean, pick up the clue, and come all the way back
Option 2: Help unload a boat, both cargo and all of the people, without dropping anything. The boat is packed with both.
Now, option 1 seems like it would be quicker. However, this comes with two variables: What type of canoe are you getting into and are you 100% sure both of you know how to paddle a canoe properly in somewhat aggressive waters? The second option is straightforward. The primary skill is being able to carry something – a skill you know you have. While it seems like it will take longer, you won’t have to worry about not being able to complete it or having to switch detours midway through.
Speaking, driving, and orienteering
The three key skills that every team must have. The toughest legs of every race are always the ones out in Asia. The language is a huge barrier and the mass amounts of people can create a stressful environment. Being able to converse in a handful of languages is imperative and will give you a huge leg up. Rosetta Stone should be your best friend for at least 3 months before the race.
Learn to drive stick. After 22 seasons of this show, it’s still shocking how many people feel they can get by without having this skill. Nobody is saying you need to be Vin Diesel, but some prior knowledge of how to drive a car would be advantageous to say the least.
Orienteering! When’s the last time you ever used that word? Well, it’s arguably the most important skill on the race. In the age of GPS and Google, trying to find a place has never been easier. But, without either of those crutches on the race, having to read a map is absolutely imperative. This is a skill we all picked up in Grade 5 Social Studies, which means there will be millions of 10 year olds laughing at you when you can’t do this.
It’s not about winning; it’s about not losing
This is true up until the very last leg, where you’ll eventually have to beat out the other teams. But before then? Just avoid coming in last. Look at this as a free trip around the world with one of the most important people in your life. In order to prolong that experience, you don’t have to come first every leg. Just be less inept than one other team each leg and you’re moving on. Of course the later you come in, the later you start the next leg, but there’s a good chance you’ll catch up to all the other teams by getting on the same flight as them at some point. Just don’t come last!
There you have it! Be sure to catch the first ever season of The Amazing Race Canada on CTV!
Story by Jamil Karim. Follow him on Twitter at @Jammer_19.