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The Amazing Race 8 (Family Edition): Thinking Smart in Episode 1by Jeffrey Clinard -- 09/30/05
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The race is on, in an unusual edition pitting ten families against each other. Some families consist of all adults, some have teenagers, and other preteen children, but all have only each other and their brainpower to make it in the race.
The first half of the leg was all about navigation. Teams which navigated quickly through the streets of New York City, then out of it, had the advantage. I was surprised that so few teams recognized Kevin and Drew, who were passing out clues at the hot dog stand. Don’t these people watch old editions of the race and learn from them? It would have been worth a minute to stop and ask them for their best tips on how to run the race. They’ve been there, done that, and got the tee-shirt. Since they didn’t, I’ll give my top three things to do. 1) Follow the directions. 2) Use travel agents. 3) Get native guides and help.
The recreation of Washington crossing the Delaware didn’t really change things that much, though it was an interesting adventure. Like many races, the first stopping point shuffled the teams into groups of three (depending on departure time) and almost certainly assured one of the last four teams to depart would be eliminated. However, teams had to make the right decisions from that point onward to keep from being eliminated, and unlike most races, there was a huge opportunity to gain ground on the leading teams. Much of it was due to mistakes of other teams, but there is no denying the fact that the winners of the first leg left the campground in the last group.
The detour provided the first real challenge of the race, and it all came down to team composition. “Buggy It” was the option to go for - if the team happened to consist of two fairly strong adults and two fairly small team members. Otherwise, teams were better off with the “Build It” option.
Overall, I’m a bit worried about quite a few of the teams not having common sense. There was plenty of bad driving (and I’m calling out each team on it), and plenty of scenes showing racers not wearing seat belts. Also, a number of teams piled into their cars wearing rain gear. How dumb is that? If I wear heavy jackets or rain gear in a car with a heater, I get too hot. That’s why I take them off before getting in the car (of course, I live in a warm weather location, but still, it was summer out there). Taking it off before getting in the car might have been a smarter idea.
Phil also said teams wouldn’t have to pay for gasoline or airline tickets. Combined with the camping gear and short race length, my guess is that teams will be doing a lot of driving on this trip, and a lot of camping. It also means teams should use the “dead” time of the race to do housekeeping chores. That means when hours of operation mean there’s a delay in racing, it’s time to make a trip to the grocery store to buy food for four (much cheaper than fast food, and it travels, particularly stuff like cereal, nuts, and soda pop). It also means putting gas in the car, and making sure everybody has done their “business” before getting back to the race.
Godleweski Family: How this team managed to gain an hour over the two groups in front of them is one of the great mysteries of life. While they started out in the middle of the pack, they dropped behind on the trip to Pennsylvania and were in the last group to depart their campsite. All I can figure is that they made a quick job with the “Build It” option and navigated well in the last part of the leg to gain that much time. However, their driving scares me. They not only started down the wrong way of a one-way street, but also made a U-turn right in front of another car.
Gaghan Family: This family consistently ran a good race, navigating well in the first half of the leg. They were second to the sporting goods store and to the hot dog stand, and were able to get the earliest departure time from the campground. They were the fastest to complete the “Buggy It” detour option, and it was the correct choice for them given their team composition. Finally, they won a foot race to the mat to take second place. Well done, but I don’t want to see that stunt of wild driving to keep somebody from passing them again.
Weaver Family: The Weaver family moved from the back to the front of the pack in the leg, navigating well once they left New York City. However, they picked a bad detour option for them, which resulted in a runaway buggy. They were smart to switch to “Build It” after that event. They stumbled a bit in getting to the pit stop (due to navigation problems), but ended up in third place by only a minute or so after the second place team. They are set to do well in the race if they can keep it up. However, I have to chide Rebecca for initially starting down the wrong way of a one-way street. Please, race safely.1 2 Next-->
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