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Amazingly dedicated

Winnipeg mother-and-son team has been rehearsing Race role for a lifetime

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The cast of the second season of

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO Enlarge Image

The cast of the second season of "Amazing Race Canada" is shown in a handout photo.

There's no guarantee, of course, that they'll win it, but there was never a moment's doubt that they'd be in it.

For Winnipeggers Nicole and Cormac Foster, being chosen as one of the 11 teams in The Amazing Race Canada was simply a matter of time.

"There was no doubt at all," says Nicole, 39, of her determination to take part in the Canuck version of the reality/competition show that has been her son's obsession since age seven. "I told him, 'We will be a team on The Amazing Race if it ever comes to Canada.' And once it was announced that it was coming here, we knew we were going to get on, whether it was the first season, the second season, or whatever."

As it turned out, the show's first season -- which was won last year by Winnipeggers Tim Hague Sr. and Tim Hague Jr. -- was a non-starter for the mother/son pair from East Kildonan. Eligibility guidelines limited auditions to those aged 19 and older, and Cormac was only 18 when The Amazing Race Canada debuted.

When a second season was confirmed for this year, however, the Fosters were not to be denied. They submitted an audition tape that featured Cormac doing bench-press repetitions while a very insistent woman -- later revealed to be his mom and prospective Race partner -- shouted encouragement.

"We wanted to show the excitement and energy we have," explains Cormac, "so it shows us working out; I'm bench-pressing, and she's really pushing me -- she's yelling at me, and I'm benching and dying and she's yelling and screaming.

Adds Nicole, "At that point, nobody knows what our relationship is until he's finished doing the number of bench presses I tell him to do. Then he gets up and I say, 'Now we're ready to go,' and he says, 'All right, Mom!'

"I believe it was when he says 'Mom!' that really caught their attention -- like, 'Oh, my goodness, this is a mother-son team!' -- because we've always been told that we don't really look like mother and son. We believe it made them think that that would make us a good team for a show like this."

Being picked for The Amazing Race Canada was the realization of a lifelong dream for Cormac, 19, who is entering his third year of biosystems engineering studies at the University of Manitoba.

A self-described super-fan of the American version of The Amazing Race since he was in grade school, Cormac used to create his own versions of Detour, Roadblock and Fast Forward cards so that he and his friends could stage mini-versions of the Race in and around their East Kildonan home.

"Obsessed is a good word to describe it," Nicole, director of resident services at a local nursing home, says with a laugh.

"I've been a crazy fan for as long as I can remember," says Cormac. "Honestly, we would watch it and say, 'OK, what would we do if we got that Roadblock or that Detour?' And I actually still have the clue cards I made back when we would play Amazing Race around the house.

"We've always dreamed of an opportunity to be on this show; we've always wanted to take a trip together and go on this wild adventure. And now it's happened."

Because of strictly enforced confidentiality agreements that all contestants must sign, the mother-son tandem is prevented from discussing any details of the second Canadian Race, which was filmed earlier this year. But both are quick to declare that no matter how well you know the show or how well you think you've prepared to compete, there's much more to The Amazing Race than can be understood from the comfort of anyone's living room.

"Being fans of the show, we've always sat and said, 'Oh, we could do that challenge,'" says Cormac. "Never again will we say that. The show is way more physically intense than you'd ever expect."

Nicole elaborates: "One of the things you don't get to see as a viewer sitting at home is all the other elements at play -- whether it's raining or windy, or you're dealing with a lack of sleep, or you're hungry, or you have to go to the bathroom -- but when you're in it, all those things are in play, and all those variables affect how you race. It's quite different being in it than it is watching it at home, I can tell you that."

Which does not, in any way, mean The Amazing Race Canada's latest Winnipeg team has any regrets about the experience.

"It's also definitely way better than I had ever dreamed it would be," says Cormac. "One thing I would definitely say, which I don't think most Canadians realize, is that Canada is so beautiful. We've always been proud Canadians, but this was an amazing experience."

Agrees Nicole, "It was probably the best experience of my life -- beyond all my expectations... Being able to do this with my son -- doing it together -- was unbelievable. We've always been close, but this really reinforced how close we really are, and it taught me a lot about who he is. I'm really proud."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 4, 2014 D1

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