Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 8/8/2018 (730 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
May 9 was a typical spring Wednesday in Winnipeg. Cool. Partly cloudy. On the streets, people were going about their business.
Only a few people noticed that behind the facade of everyday normalcy, in guarded pockets throughout the city, heroes had come to town.
That was the day Winnipeg played host to The Amazing Race Canada, a reality show that pits contestants from all over the country to participate in challenges that range from artistic, intellectual, athletic and, of course, navigational, all playing for prizes that include cars, a trip around the world and $250,000 cash.
This sixth season, subtitled the "Heroes Edition," started off with 10 two-person teams of Canadian competitors racing across the country and around the world to prevail in the Canadian spinoff of the American series The Amazing Race.
At the close of Tuesday evening’s episode in Toronto, it was revealed to competitors that the next stop would be Winnipeg, where six remaining teams (Zainab and Monica have been eliminated) would compete in challenges that use some of the city’s most important institutions — including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, The Forks Market and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet — as well as lesser-known gems — the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and Royal Canadian Legion Branch #4 in St. James.
Since the production keeps a tight lid on the specifics of the competition to prevent spoilers, the show descended on the city with the impressive organization of a top-secret military operation. Only in a couple of instances — competitions at the Legion and The Forks — were members of the general public allowed to witness the proceedings.
The Winnipeg leg was something of a homecoming for unflappable host Jon Montgomery, a former gold medal Olympian skeleton racer born and raised in western Manitoba town of Russell.
"I’ve had lots of different experiences in this city, from personal to professional," Montgomery says. "I’m happy to be back anytime I get the chance."
Montgomery says this season, featuring individuals engaged in mentoring, coaching and charitable work, is an inspiration.
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"Anytime you can feature people living a really altruistic lifestyle in their everyday existence, it’s inspiring," he says. "You get them on the show doing ridiculous challenges, and you see these people living life so far outside their comfort zone that you’re invigorated by it.
"As difficult as the grind might be to work on the race and compete on the race, there’s enough fuel there to keep you going."
In Toronto, contestants were challenged to participate in voguing at a downtown dance club. In Winnipeg, the challenge will be kicked up a classical notch at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, where competitors will have to pass muster with RWB artistic director André Lewis, who enthusiastically signed on when approached by the show’s producers.
"It’s a nice way of integrating the RWB into the consciousness of many people that might otherwise be uninformed about ballet and its beauty," Lewis says. "I think it’s a plus-plus for everybody. But it speaks to the prestige of the RWB that Amazing Race would reach out to us."
The Winnipeg episode of The Amazing Race Canada airs on CTV Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 8 p.m.
Randall King Reporter
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.