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The Amazing Race 8 (Family Edition): Thinking Smart Before the Raceby Jeffrey Clinard -- 09/27/05
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This time, The Amazing Race is a Family Edition, featuring teams of four, some of which contain children (I believe the youngest is 8 or 9). It’s also going to be the shortest race at only 11,000 miles, though teams can’t know that in advance. One implication is that ground travel or chartered transport will be used quite a bit in the first few legs, and that there may be more bottleneck locations, at least early in the race. It’s something of a side effect of the family edition of the race, as 40 people, plus their camera crew would likely overwhelm available capacity for air travel. Without these kinds of controls, the producers risk letting the race get out of control instead of remaining competitive. Smart teams will realize this and adjust their plans accordingly.
As this edition tackles new ground, a few thinking smart tips may not apply, and new ways of thinking smart may emerge. However, the basics are the same. Teams start out with their luggage, a clue, some money, their teammates, and their wits. The rest is up to them, and in the end, it’s usually the wits that determine which teams advance... and which teams get the bad news that they have been eliminated.
1) Follow Instructions: It seems obvious, but several teams have ignored instructions, and it came back to bite them. The worst offenders were Nancy & Emily from Amazing Race 1. They ignored the instruction on either taking a bus or a van, and suffered a 24-hour time penalty which ended up costing them the race. If they had followed the instructions, they would have beaten Joe & Bill at that checkpoint and remained in the race. Other teams were given time penalties for not following instructions, or otherwise broke the rules, such as when Freddy & Kendra (Amazing Race 6) took a second clue envelope when they lost their original one.
During Amazing Race 2, Blake & Wil both failed to follow instructions to complete ALL tasks before returning to their partners in Australia, and wound up having to re-perform some of the tasks. In Amazing Race 3, Heather & Eve failed to walk to the pit stop and it cost them the race (and even provided a Reality TV Hall of Shame Moment). During Amazing Race 4 Reichen & Chip climbed into a carriage, only to be kicked out by Jon & Al, who read the directions correctly and grabbed the ticket off it – the item which actually entitled them to use it.
The penalties for not following directions are getting worse. During one leg in Amazing Race 7, Uchenna failed to pick up the entire post, and Meredith failed to take the clue envelope during the “real roadblock” roadblock. Phil refused to check them in until they had completed the task instead of assessing them a penalty.
2) Look for Loopholes: All that said about following instructions, if the task is open-ended, look for ways to get there faster. For example, getting to Tunisia in Amazing Race 1 required a boat trip. All of the players took the same ship, but going on a cargo ship or chartering a vessel would have fulfilled the requirements. The train in France was another example; the instructions only said to get to a point, not how to get there. The smarter teams took the local's shortcut. This is the edge that can help teams avoid elimination.
3) Know When Minutes Save Hours: In each race, the teams had to get a flight to their next destination – with limited seating on each. The smart teams raced to the airport to claim the direct flights and gained hours. Other teams tried to call or otherwise get information, and suffered for it. In Amazing Race 1 Matt & Anna were in this group, and while it wasn't the only reason they lost, it was one of the big reasons they were eliminated first. In Amazing Race 5, Colin & Christie visited a travel agency first on a few legs of the race - and it paid off with better flights than other teams. Jonathan & Victoria in Amazing Race 6 copied that trick - and were once outwitted by Gus & Hera, who also figured out how to bypass a line. In contrast, Chris tried to rush through the Masquerade Ball in Amazing Race 4 and got sent to the end of the line twice – costing his team the race.
Minutes can also save hours on other forms of transportation. In Amazing Race 5, Alison & Donny were eliminated because they got on the first bus. Kami & Karli and Chip & Kim boarded a later bus, but neither was eliminated because they took the EXPRESS bus and passed their competitors. Later on in the race, Colin & Christie found another express bus and played kingmaker as to which teams got tickets on it. Then in Amazing Race 7, Rob & Amber figured out another express bus and tried to keep it a secret. It didn’t work, but teams should take the extra time to find out the arrival time, not the departure time.
Family Edition Notes: With four team members, there is no excuse for getting lost due to an inability to read a map or miss a cluebox. Even younger children can help look for street signs and other navigation aids, and four sets of eyes are available to look for flags (three if one is involved in intense driving).1 2 3 4 Next-->
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