The Most Memorable Amazing Race Challenges
Detours, Roadblocks, and Switchbacks, Oh My!
There have been hundreds of challenges on The Amazing Race. Some challenges are more interesting than others. The Roadblocks. Fast Forwards, and Detours below are some of the most memorable in Race history.
The Amazing Race
Cheese Wheels of Doom
In this challenge racers had to bring rickety cheese holders up a very steep hill to a storage shed containing 50 pound wheels of cheese. Each team had to get four wheels of cheese down the hill to another storage shed to finish the challenge. Just getting up the slope proved a challenge for many teams, while the cheese carriers proved all but useless. Making matters even more difficult, when racers lost control of a cheese wheel it turned into a fast-moving missile that threatened to mow down other racers.
This challenge was another producer favorite appearing both on leg 1 of Season 14 and as a Switchback on leg 8 of Season 22.
Shaving Your Head
In this Fast Forward both members of the team had to shave their heads as part of a Hindu ritual for good luck. The producers liked this Fast Forward so much they used it twice. It first appeared in leg 9 of Season 5 when models Brandon & Nicole were faced with the choice. They decided to risk elimination rather than shave their lovely locks.
The second appearance of this Fast Forward was on leg 10 of Season 20. Married couple Joyce & Uchenna decided to shave their heads in order to win the Fast Forward. The choice was much harder for Joyce who had long braids, whereas Uchenna was already bald. Joyce & Uchenna went on to win The Amazing Race, so Joyce's sacrifice proved worthwhile.
Joyce getting her head shaved
This Roadblock took place on leg 6 of Season 18. The Roadblock actually began before the teams even knew it because early in the leg, while they were in Kunming, China, they tasted a specific tea at a tea shop. They then flew to Kolkuta, India.
The Roadblock itself took place in Kolkuta, where the racer doing the Roadblock had to bring a mango, papaya, and a brick of tea to a tea auctioneer. On tables in the hall were thousands of cups of tea – only a few of which were the same mango-papaya tea the racers had tasted back in China. The racers had to drink an entire cup of tea once they tried it. They completed the Roadblock once they found the correct tea and presented it to the tea auctioneer.
Mother and son team Margie & Luke had Luke do this task. Although it took most of the racers a long time to complete the Roadblock, it took Luke hours and ended with the team's exit from the race.
Luke tasting tea
The Watermelon to the Face
On leg 1 of Season 17 the teams traveled to England. The Roadblock they encountered involved riding a horse over to where an enormous slingshot was set up. The racer doing the Roadblock had to use the watermelons as missiles. The goal was to knock over a suit of armor.
What made this challenge so memorable is that Claire (of team Brook & Claire) somehow managed to cause her watermelon to ricochet backwards and hit her – full force – in the face. Amazingly, this did not actually break any part of her face. Even more amazingly, after taking some time to recover, Claire soldiered on and Brook & Claire avoided elimination.
Claire gets a watermelon in the face
You Do the Challenge
Which of these challenges would you rather do?
Hello and Goodbye
In the final leg of Season 21 the last Roadblock was particularly difficult. The racer doing the task had to, in order, hoist the flag of each nation they had visited during the race. Additionally, the racer had to hoist flags with the correct words for “Hello” and “Goodbye” for each of those countries.
During the race, the country greeter who always appears with host Phil Keoghan at the Pit Stop said hello and goodbye to the racers in the greeter's native language, but none of the teams realized this would factor into the final challenge.
The intellectual nature of this Roadblock allowed the Beekman Boys (Josh & Brent), considered by many the weakest team in the finals, to win.
Hang Your Heads
This Detour option appeared on leg 4 of Season 23. The leg took place in Norway. Racers who chose this Detour had to go to a warehouse filled with large containers of fish heads. The racers had to use giant spikes to string 10 heads together. Once they made 6 bundles of heads they could load them onto a wheelbarrow and take them to a marked rod on a fish drying rack.
Unfortunately for the racers, the drying racks were a long distance from the warehouse and the teams struggled just to keep going. But what made this Detour even more memorable was that the producers chose to use the classic song “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes as the ending music for the episode.
The Amazing Race has had a number of memorable eating challenges, three of which follow:
Argentinian Feast: In this Roadblock from Season 7 each racer had to eat 4 pounds of assorted meat including blood sausage, cow intestine, cow udder, and cow kidney. Rob Mariano (of Survivor fame) dropped out of the Roadblock, taking a 4 hour penalty. He was crafty enough to convince other teams to quit the Roadblock after him so that he would not come in last. This Roadblock was so difficult that only a few racers managed to complete it.
Russian Delight: On leg 4 of Season 5 racers faced a Roadblock filled with one of Russia's most famous delicacies – caviar. Unfortunately for the racers doing the Roadblock they had to eat 2.2 pounds of caviar.
Sushi Roulette: In the first Roadblock of Season 15, racers got to participate in a Japanese game show called Sushi Roulette. In the game, the host spun a giant wheel with 11 slots for sushi. Two of these slots held “Wasabi Bombs,” a temaki sushi filled with wasabi – which is an extremely hot Japanese horseradish. When a racer's slot landed on a Wasabi Bomb they had 2 minutes to eat it to pass the Roadblock. If they didn't pass they stayed at the Roadblock and had to wait for their next Wasabi Bomb.
On leg 11 of Season 6 the Roadblock involved padlocks. Lots and lots of padlocks. Racers were given one key which fit one of 3,000 different locks chained to a railing. Racers hands literally bled from their many attempts at opening locks. Hayden & Aaron were eliminated when Hayden finally gave up on the task after the other racers had departed and she had spent many hours attempting to open her lock.
Rolling it Out
Also on Season 6, in leg 3, came the hay bale Roadblock. In this Roadblock racers had to unroll hay bales much larger than the racers themselves. At the center of a few of the hay bales was the clue to the next location.
This Roadblock proved physically and mentally exhausting for many teams – although a few were fortunate and found their clue early. However, the team who truly suffered were sisters Lena & Kristy. A strong team who got to the Roadblock early, Lena spent over 10 hours unrolling hay bales. Eventually, host Phil Keoghan came out to the field to tell the sisters they had been eliminated.
Lena unrolling a hay bale
In the first leg of Season 22 teams found a Roadblock in French Polynesia involving sandcastles. The beach was covered in 400 sandcastles of which only 11 had clues underneath them. The racers had to dig into a sandcastle to see if a clue was under it. If there was no clue the racer had to rebuild the sandcastle – which was surprisingly difficult to do. Racers struggled in the unforgiving heat to get just the right mix of sand and water to rebuild their castles – before digging through the next one. And so on... and so on.