Be­hind the scenes with ‘Amaz­ing Race Canada’ in Chile

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY BILL BRIOUX

An act of God nearly threw up a ma­jor road­block this sea­son on “The Amaz­ing Race Canada.”

The erup­tion of Chile’s Cal­buco vol­cano in late April sent dark bursts of ash and rock four kilo­me­tres into the air, caus­ing evac­u­a­tions and flight can­cel­la­tions.

As view­ers saw last week on “The Amaz­ing Race Canada” (Wed­nes­days at 9 p.m. on CTV), the teams did make it to San­ti­ago.

This week, they move on to neigh­bour­ing Ar­gentina, where they race around Buenos Aires.

It al­most didn’t hap­pen, ac­cord­ing to In­sight Pro­duc­tions boss and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer John Brun­ton.

Af­ter months of plan­ning, lo­ca­tion scout­ing and on-site race re­hearsals — as well as pro­cess­ing visas and ar­rang­ing flights and ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions for cast and crew — Chile and Ar­gentina were al­most scut­tled from the show by Cal­buco’s erup­tion.

But with days to go, the skies cleared over Chile and the de­ci­sion was made to stick with the orig­i­nal plans - with fin­gers crossed that there wouldn’t be another erup­tion.

For­tu­nately, na­ture fol­lowed the script.

Just out­side San­ti­ago, Brun­ton stood at the bot­tom of an An­des peak where in­di­vid­ual mem­bers of each team had to paraglide down to­wards their next set of in­struc­tions. It was a clear, cloud­less day in what, for Chile, was early fall.

The vet­eran pro­ducer was thrilled to not lose out on “this beau­ti­ful back­drop.”

“It was in­cred­i­ble to come down and see parts of Chile,” added con­tes­tant Michaelia Dr­ever, who is paired with Hamil­ton El­liott.

“I’ve never seen moun­tains so beau­ti­ful.”

El­liott, 20, is the first trans­gen­der par­tic­i­pant on “The Amaz­ing Race.” El­liott said he got used to duck­ing into male change rooms with other race run­ners but drew the line when it came to strip­ping down for a tribal Easter Is­land fer­til­ity dance in San­ti­ago’s his­toric town square.

For­tu­nately for the en­gaged cou­ple, they had al­ready won an Ex­press Pass and used it to de­tour around the sit­u­a­tion. The pass helped them win the sec­ond leg of the race, net­ting them trips to In­dia as well as six months’ worth of ga­so­line.

View­ers might won­der how scripted or faked things are on re­al­ity shows such as “The Amaz­ing Race Canada.”

As an em­bed­ded ob­server, it was re­mark­able to learn how real it all was and how lit­tle each of the teams know about the progress of their ri­vals through­out the race. All are care­fully se­questered each night and most have no idea who wins from leg to leg. And the race is re­ally tough. All the teams said com­pet­ing in the race is much more dif­fi­cult than ex­pected, both men­tally and phys­i­cally.

“It was a 24-hour day for us yesterday,” said Dr­ever dur­ing an in­ter­view.

The duo woke up at 2:30 a.m. and did not get back into their ho­tel room un­til 3 a.m. the next morn­ing.

“We were so crazy tired by the end of it.”

The old­est com­peti­tor, 62year-old Neil Lums­den, who is rac­ing with his daugh­ter Kristin, con­fessed he raided the ice ma­chines at the ho­tel, filled his bath­tub and sat in it.

As vi­tal as ac­tion and ad­ven­ture is to the “Amaz­ing Race” mix, Brun­ton val­ues cast­ing even more.

“You want peo­ple who are nar­ra­tors, sto­ry­tellers,” he says.

“You also want peo­ple who are root-able.”

Be­hind the scenes with ‘Amaz­ing Race Canada’ in Chile.

CP PHOTO

A thick plume pours from the Cal­buco vol­cano, near Puerto Varas, Chile, in this Thurs­day, April 30, 2015, photo. An act of God nearly threw up a ma­jor road­block this sea­son on “The Amaz­ing Race Canada” as the erup­tion of Chile’s Cal­buco vol­cano in late April sent dark bursts of ash and rock four kilo­me­tres into the air, caus­ing evac­u­a­tions and flight can­cel­la­tions.

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