From NRA's Police Championships to CBS' Amazing Race
Albuquerque, New Mexico - The Amazing Race is more than just a reality show. We learned that a few weeks ago when talking to Season 20 contestant Art Velez. Art and his partner J.J. finished second overall in an adventure that spanned five continents and dozens of timezones. While competing in NRA's 50th National Police Shooting Championships, Art stepped to the sidelines and told us about the wear and tear such an adventure can have.
"We were on for three weeks, twenty-one days of non-stop action going 24/7. It was amazing."
How's that for an unintended pun?
It's easy to forget that Amazing Race contestants aren't just taking part in challenges. They're doing so while flying from timezone to timezone to timezone. Anyone who's experienced jet lag knows how taxing that such flights can be on your system. That's when you go from the reality show to the reality of life.
"We used vacation days to compete on the show," explained Velez. "Actually, I ended up taking about six weeks of vacation because it took me that long to recover when we got back. It was ten days before my body returned to a normal schedule. I was falling asleep at noon and waking up at midnight.
"My wife was like 'What are you doing?' and the only thing I could say was 'I don't know!'."
While watching the show from the comfort of your couch, all you see are the exotic locations and beautiful scenery the CBS producers line up. What you're not thinking about is how they have to perform puzzles and tasks after twenty hours in the air.
"The back and forth and back and forth," said Velez. It was exhausting. The last stretch from India to Japan to Hawaii was rough. That all happened in about four days. Spinning rope, sushi bingo, rappelling down the building and that sled at the end. Very rough."
Art's favorite legs and locations for the Amazing Race
There's usually a challenge or two that one team dominates. Completes in a flash and runs away with the victory. For Art and J.J., that was the watermelon stacking in Paraguay.
"We just absolutely dominated that challenge," said Velez. "Nobody else came close.
Stacked ten rows high with a base of 10x10, Art & J.J. blew through the stacking to make it first to the bottle dance. That's where one of Art's hidden talents came to light. Thought it took a little doing, they were first to wrap things up and make it to the pit stop.
But that didn't make Paraguay the favorite location. That honor went to Hawaii. Though the toughest on the body, it was the the activities and the roller coaster of emotions, that allowed the Hawaii leg to end up on the thumbs up list.
"We did so many things. First to second to first and second again. That was probably the most exciting leg of the entire trip."
We'll have more about Art's time on the Amazing Race over the next few weeks. Check back next Monday for another installment.
Here's last week's article on how Art made it onto Amazing Race.