Celebrity host Phil Keoghan isn’t expected to fly in, prizes will fall far short of $1 million, and the competition won’t take participants around the world. Regardless, organizers promise anyone who shows up at Plymouth’s Harriet Wetherill Park for their version of TV’s Amazing Race on Sept. 21 that they will have “an awesome afternoon.”
Devotees of the award-winning CBS television hit -- reportedly an average 10 million viewers per season -- know there are pitfalls and challenges aplenty for the 11-or-so two-person teams that sprint, stumble and sweat their way across the globe in pursuit of $1 million in prize money.
Since the show debuted in 2001, the contest has taken racers to nearly 100 different countries where they’ve faced all kinds of physical and mental challenges while completing specific tasks enroute to designated pitstops. But, most concede, at least part of the prize is the journey, and Plymouth Rec Programmer Jessica Brennan, one of the hardcore fans who spearheaded the Amazing HWP Race, couldn’t agree more.
In short, the local competition is open to two-person adult-child teams and will play out entirely at HWP, 2462 Butler Pike, starting at either 1 or 2 p.m. Entry is $40 per couple. And although CBS’s Amazing Racers might well find themselves scaling ice cliffs or eating “food” that’s still squirming, Brennan assures potential entrants an affinity for heights and strong stomachs are not required for the township’s take on the race.
“I love the Amazing Race because even though I love to travel, I’m not able to get to all these places, but I kind of get to go there as part of the show,” she says. “I would have loved to be on the show, so this is a way I can recreate the fun and challenges for other fans.”
That said, Brennan promises even the uninitiated will enjoy GPCC’s rendition. Understanding now-iconic Race concepts like roadblocks, detours, fast forwards, U-turns and speed bumps? Not necessary.
“At the starting line, we’ll go over all the rules and how (the race) is going to work,” she says. “All the clues will explain each challenge, and we’ll have staff around to give hints if needed.”
Brennan also assures the squeamish those challenges won’t involve swallowing weird stuff or navigating shaky, sky-high rope bridges.
“The Amazing HWP Race is all about fun and getting families out to the park,” she explains. “There’s no bungee-jumping or eating bugs. One example (of an Amazing HWP Race challenge) is a flag memory Road Block, which is a task only one person on a team performs, (and) they can choose (which person) does it. There will be a pattern of flags that they’ll need to recreate at their station, but they can’t see the pattern unless they run over to it.
“Another (challenge) will test their teamwork by having one teammate lead the other blindfolded teammate through a maze using only their voice (to give directions).”
Some Amazing Racers have described strenuous pre-show workouts designed to help them deal with the non-stop physical exertions the show demands as they race toward a given pitstop (typically lugging the overloaded back packs they carry throughout).
But Brennan says Amazing HWP Race contestants don’t need to be Ironman-ready to run this iteration of the contest.
“This is all about having fun,” she says. “Come as you are, and do your best.”
Along the way, Brennan adds, participants can expect to “gain confidence in themselves, insight into their teammates and a feeling of achievement for finishing the race.”
Plymouth’s 67-acre HWP is maintained for passive recreation and consists of meadows, wooded area, streams, actively-farmed fields, a bird blind and butterfly garden. The site also contains walking paths, a covered picnic pavilion and “nature-inspired” playground.
Rain date for the Amazing HWP Race is Sept. 22. Pre-registration is required. Additional information is available at www.plymouthtownship.org/greater-plymouth-community-center or 610-277-4312.