The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race is a reality television game show in which teams of two people race around the world in competition with other teams. Contestants strive to arrive first at "Pit Stops" at the end of each leg of the race to win prizes and to avoid coming in last, which carries the possibility of elimination or a significant disadvantage in the following leg. Contestants travel to and within multiple countries in a variety of transportation modes, including airplanes, hot air balloons, helicopters, trucks, bicycles, taxicabs, cars, trains, buses, boats, and by foot. Clues provided in each leg lead the teams to the next destination or direct them to perform a task, either together or by a single member. These challenges are related in some manner to the country wherein they are located or its culture. Teams are progressively eliminated until three are left; at that point, the team that arrives first in the final leg is awarded the grand prize.

Created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster, the original series has aired in the United States since 2001 and has earned thirteen Primetime Emmy Awards, including every award from 2003 to 2009 for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program." Emmy-award-winning New Zealand television personality Phil Keoghan has been the host of the U.S. version of the show since its inception. The show has branched out to include a number of international versions following a similar format.

The Amazing Race


Typically, each cycle of the Race features eleven teams. Each team is composed of two people with a pre-existing relationship, such as dating, married, and divorced couples; siblings; parent and child; lifelong friends; sports team colleagues; and co-workers. However, some seasons have introduced twists on this concept: the second All-Stars season featured a team made by the production due to illness befalling an original competitor while season 26, which has a theme of only people who are dating each other competing, featured five of the teams participating in a "blind date". Dynamics of the relationship under the stress of competition is a focus of the show, and are often described by the teams during interviews held before, during, and after the teams have raced, and through discussion with the show's host when they arrive at the Pit Stop. The stress of racing with one's partner, staying ahead of the competition, completing the assigned tasks, and dealing with little sleep or luxury combined to create "killer fatigue", a phrase coined by fans of the show. Often a team's inability to cope with the fatigue is what is ultimately responsible for a team's elimination from the Race.

Original Race rules required that teammates have had a pre-existing relationship longer than three years, and no previous acquaintances with other racers during that cycle. However, these requirements have been dropped in some cases; Dustin and Kandice from seasons 10 and 11 knew each other from the beauty pageant circuit, and from seasons 9 and 11, Eric and Danielle met on the Race and had begun dating when asked to be on the All-Star edition. Individual racers must be of a specific nationality and meet specific age requirements; this is necessary to allow teams to obtain the necessary passport documentation to travel across the world without incident.

The team format has varied in some seasons. Four seasons featured 12 teams of two rather than the standard 11, while the "Family Edition" featured ten teams of four players, some of which were young children. Season 29 featured 22 complete strangers who chose their race partners based on first impressions made during a pre-race challenge.

Normally unseen, a two-person audio and video production crew accompanies each team, recording them as they race. Generally, teams may not travel without their production crew. Production crews are switched among teams each leg to avoid familiarity.


At the beginning of each leg of the race, each team receives an allowance with their first clue, from which all expenses (food, transportation, lodging, attraction admission, and supplies) must be purchased during the Leg. Selected tasks have also required the teams to use their money to complete the task. However, teams are given a credit card which they must use to purchase airline tickets (and in the case of the "Family Edition", the purchase of gasoline). While early seasons of the U.S. version of the show allowed for teams to use the credit card to reserve flights outside of an airport or travel agency, recent seasons have prohibited this use.

Allowance money is usually given in the same currency as the show's nation regardless of location; U.S. versions of the Race provide racers with U.S. dollars. In one exception, teams were given money in the currency of Vietnam at the start of that Leg. The amount of money varies from leg to leg, and has ranged from hundreds of dollars to nothing. Teams are allowed to keep any unused money for future race legs, barring certain penalties for finishing last.

If team members spend all of their money or have it taken away in a non-elimination leg, they may try to get more money in any way that does not violate the local laws. This includes borrowing money from other teams, begging from locals or selling their possessions. Since season seven, teams have been prevented from begging at United States airports. Additionally, teams may not use their personal possessions to barter payment for services.

Teams have reported on the existence of an emergency fund of approximately $200 that is carried by their crew and can only be used in extreme circumstances, but generally not as a means to pay for any activity related to the race. However, the exact amount is not known, nor are the exact circumstances when it can be used.

Route Markers

Route Markers are uniquely colored flags that mark the places where teams must go. Most Route Markers are attached to the boxes that contain clue envelopes, but some may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks, or may be used to line a course that the teams must follow.

The original Route Markers used in season one were colored yellow and white. They were changed to yellow and red in The Amazing Race 2, which has remained the standard Route Markers color scheme thereafter. Occasionally, different color schemes are adopted for certain legs, seasons, or versions of the race.


When teams start a leg, arrive at Route Markers, or complete certain tasks, they normally receive a letter-sized tear-away envelope that contains their next clue inside a vertical-fold folder. The clues themselves are typically printed on a vertical strip of paper, although additional information is often provided inside the clue folder. After retrieving the clue, teams open the envelope and read aloud the instructions given on the clue sheet and then follow those instructions. Teams are generally required to collect each clue during each leg and keep that information with them until they reach the next Pit Stop, surrendering them once they have checked in. Teams may not take an additional clue from the clue box should they lose their first one, otherwise they are assessed a penalty. Teams are not directly penalized for misplacing their clue but will lose time either searching for it or trying to learn from other teams of where to go next.

At Route Markers, clue envelopes are placed inside a box mounted to the Marker. In early seasons, the box contained exactly the number of clues for teams on that leg, allowing teams to indirectly determine their current placement in the leg by counting envelopes. In more recent seasons, extra envelopes are left in clue boxes to prevent this from occurring.

In some cases, clues - most often of the Route Info type - have been provided by more unorthodox means, such as in an advertisement in a local newspaper or on some item related to the task just performed. A common unorthodox means in the U.S. version is to place the clue at the bottom of the Roaming Gnome, the mascot of Travelocity, the sponsor of the U.S. version.

In the 2016 season of The Amazing Race Canada, the sponsor of the Canadian version, BMO, have changed the format and had BMO employees hand racers a tablet where the clue was prerecorded by each racer's family members versus the traditional method.

Route Information

Route Information clues instruct the teams where to go next. Such a clue usually provides only the name of the team's next destination; it is up to the teams to figure out how to get there. The destination may be given in a cryptic manner, such as a flag representing the country whose capital they are to fly to, or an obfuscation such as the "westernmost point in mainland Europe". In these cases, teams may use any resources, such as the help of locals or borrowing an Internet-connected device, to learn of the required destination.

Route Info clues will sometimes specify one or more modes of transportation that teams must take. This may include pre-arranged travel, typically done for the first leg of most seasons, or for charter flights, buses, or boats for more remote locations. Teams may also be provided with a rented vehicle which they need to navigate themselves to the next Route Marker and often for later tasks on that same leg. Route Info may restrict teams to specific modes of transport, commonly requiring them to walk to their next destination when specified. Failure to follow travel instructions will result in a penalty at the next Pit Stop. If no mode of transport is specified, teams are free to use any option available excluding private vehicles.


A Detour presents the team with a decision between two tasks, "each with its own pros and cons," as often stated by the host. The two tasks are named, often based on rhymes or puns such as "Plow" / "Fowl" to differentiate between a task involving plowing against a task involving corralling ducks. Teams are given several details about both tasks, but may need to travel a short distance by foot or car to the different task locations. The two tasks generally involve different skills, often pairing physically-demanding or fear-challenging tasks alongside tasks that rely on intelligence or craftsmanship. The decision about which task to attempt lies solely with the team, though due to logistical constraints some Detours may impose additional limits, such as how many teams may attempt one of the tasks at one time, or the hours when a task may be available. A team may choose to switch tasks as many times as they wish with no penalty other than the time lost in attempting the tasks and traveling between task locations. Unless otherwise instructed, teams can work together to finish a Detour option. Once a team has completed one of the tasks, they are given the clue to their next location. If a team cannot complete either Detour option, they will incur a 6-hour penalty (originally 24 hours).

Occasionally there may be a twist to the Detour format. Season 25 introduced a "Blind Detour" where competitors were only given the name of their tasks and the destination in the clue to decide from, rather than a short description of the tasks also provided in the envelope. Season 26 featured a "Roulette Detour", where the detour choice was determined by a spin of a roulette wheel (with Red leading to one task and Black leading to the other).


A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. A Roadblock clue is given as a cryptic question, such as "Who's really hungry?" (leading to task involving exotic food) or "Who wants to get down and dirty?" (for a task related to laundry). Based on this information and observation of any other racers at the task, the team must decide which member will complete the task before reading the full task description. Once a team announces its decision of who will complete the Roadblock, it cannot be taken back. The Roadblock task is performed only by the selected racer while his or her partner waits in a designated area, although the partner is sometimes able to supply words of encouragement and advice. Further, unless directed by the task instructions, the selected racer can gain help from other racers that have been selected to do the Roadblock or from locals. Some Roadblocks may involve the non-selected racer, such as leading a camel his or her partner rides, or helping his or her partner solve a puzzle. On completing the Roadblock, the selected racer receives their next clue which they then return to their partner to read. If a racer cannot finish a Roadblock, or opts to quit the Roadblock, the team must take a four-hour penalty, which either starts when the next team arrives at the roadblock, or if all teams are present, when they reach the Pit Stop for that leg. Some legs feature two Roadblocks, often the first and the final legs when this occurs. The second Roadblock in such cases generally require that the non-participating racer from the first Roadblock perform that one.

Through the first five seasons, there was no limit on the number of Roadblocks that a single team member could perform throughout the race. This often led to one team member performing the majority of Roadblocks during the race. On one occasion in season five, it may have led to the elimination of a fan-favorite underdog team, the Bowling Moms, against several younger male/female couples in the penultimate leg of season five. In season six, a rule (often referred to by fans as the Bowling Moms Rule in reference to season 5) was introduced that limited a team member to a maximum number of Roadblocks he or she could complete (typically six, about half the number of Roadblocks on the race), effectively making both racers share an equal number of Roadblocks. In season nine, the Roadblock limit was increased to a maximum of seven for a twelve-leg race. In season 18, the rule was further modified to state that team members could not complete more than five Roadblocks prior to the final leg. Since at least season 24, a further modification was changed, limiting racers to a maximum of six Roadblocks through Leg 10 of a given race, with no Roadblock restrictions for all remaining legs.

Fast Forward

A Fast Forward is a task that, once completed, allows the team that completes it to bypass all remaining tasks in the leg and proceed directly to the Pit Stop. The Fast Forward clue is given with another task clue (usually a Roadblock or Detour) and is a separate task from the others. Only one team may complete a Fast Forward in any given leg, and a team may only complete one Fast Forward in the entire Race. The exception to this rule is in seasons wherein the Fast Forward is offered in conjunction with the Intersection, in which case a team may win the Fast Forward both as an individual team and as a team working with another as part of the Intersection instructions. Teams that win the Fast Forward are not guaranteed a first-place finish for that leg and still face elimination if they arrive at the Pit Stop last. Multiple teams may undertake Fast Forward tasks, but only the first team to complete the task gets credit. If a team fails to get the Fast Forward (either by quitting the task or being beaten to it), they must return and complete the leg as normal. This creates a risk in going for the Fast Forward and potentially losing time with the other teams for that leg.

Fast Forwards were initially offered on every leg of the Race, excluding the final leg. To reduce costs of production involved with untaken Fast Forward tasks, the number of Fast Forwards available was reduced to two on each Race starting in season five, and then down to one as of season 14 (season 20 offered three Fast Forwards). Fast Forwards sometimes are not shown if no team opts to take the Fast Forward or if all remaining teams have used their Fast Forward. As a result, some later seasons have not featured any Fast Forward but it is unknown whether there was one offered or not.


The Switchback is a concept introduced in which teams encounter a task from a previous season that was markedly difficult or memorable. The Switchback is associated with the same country or city as the original task, and often done at the same specific location. For example, Season 27 featured a Switchback from the first season, where teams had to re-perform the very first task in The Amazing Race history: free fall 200 feet (61 m) into the Batoka Gorge and swing above the Zambezi River.

A switchback was also present in The Amazing Race Asia 4. However what was considered a Roadblock in The Amazing Race Asia 1 is then considered a Detour and both team members have to complete it.


Besides clues, teams may encounter the following that may or may not affect their placements or possibly slow them down:


The Yield, introduced in season five, allows any one team to force another team to stop racing for a predetermined amount of time, typically on the order of 10 to 15 minutes though the exact length was never given. The Yield Marker is placed near a Route Marker, and teams are forced to stop at it to state their intentions to employ the Yield. If a team Yielded another team, they would place a photo of the Yielded team, along with a "Courtesy of" photo of themselves, on the stand. When the Yielded team arrived at the Yield, they would then turn over an hourglass and wait for the sand to drain before they could continue to the Route Marker. A team may only use its Yield power once on the race, and only one team may be Yielded when the Yield is available, although a team may be Yielded multiple times during the same Race. If a team loses its "Courtesy of" photo, it loses its Yield power. If the team that is Yielded has already passed the Yield, the Yield is nullified.

During season five, teams were not aware of the upcoming Yield. In subsequent seasons, clues have alerted teams that a Yield would be present at the next Route Marker via wording on the clue sending them there. Yields were present in every leg except the last of season five, while only three were present in seasons six through eight, and two in seasons nine through eleven. While the Yields have not been present in the U.S. Race since season eleven after a revised format of the clue, the U-Turn, Yields are still present within the foreign editions.

The second season of the Israeli version introduced a different format for the Yield and U-Turn. Unlike the original format, each team would have to vote sometime during the leg for the team they wish to Yield and the team with the most votes is forced to wait out the Yield at a certain point later in the Leg. Because of this, the limit of the number of times a team can Yield was removed.

The first season of the Philippine edition used three different formats of the Yield. Aside from the original U.S. format, the Israeli format of having teams vote at the start of the next Leg was used, known as the "Forced Yield". The third format to be used which debuted on the Philippine version of the show was the "Anonymous Yield", where the team who chooses to Yield another team does not have to reveal their identity. This format was adapted from the "Blind/Anonymous U-Turn". For the second season, the format used in the entire race was more akin to that of the Israeli format as Yields (or U-Turns) would appear in almost every leg and teams would cast their vote at the "Voting Board" sometime during the leg instead of at the beginning. Differing from the Israeli version, however, is that teams are only asked who they want to delay and are not aware if the team they vote for will either be Yielded or U-Turned. They will only know this by the warning on the clue prior to the "Reveal Board".


The U-Turn, introduced in season 12 as a replacement of the Yield, is similar in format to the Yield; however, it is usually placed immediately after a Detour (Season 27 and 29 and 30 had legs in which the U-Turn was placed before the Detour). After completing their Detour option, a team may use their U-Turn ability to force another team to backtrack and complete the Detour option they did not previously complete. Like the Yield, the team placing the U-Turn places a photo of the team they are penalizing along with their own "Courtesy of" photo on the U-Turn marker stand. Also prior to season 19, if a team had lost their "Courtesy of" photo, they would be unable to use their U-Turn power for the remainder of the Race. It is possible for a team to U-Turn a team that has already passed the U-Turn (or skipped it by means of a Fast Forward), nullifying its effects, and sometimes that U-Turn will be unaired on television. A team can only use their U-Turn power once per Race, with the exception of season 29 and The Amazing Race Canada, where teams can use the U-Turn twice if they desire. Teams are warned of an upcoming U-Turn either before the leg when the teams leave the Pit Stop, when the teams arrive at the Detour, and/or at the Route Marker clue after the Detour. When teams are warned of the upcoming U-Turn has varied in more recent seasons of the Race.

Starting in season 14, teams were met with a new variation of the U-Turn called a "Blind U-Turn." If teams use a Blind U-Turn, they do not have to publicly reveal themselves as the perpetrators with their "Courtesy of" photo. It was also featured in season two of the Australian version with the name "Anonymous U-Turn". From season 17, a "Double U-Turn" was introduced, in which two teams can each choose a team to U-Turn. Teams can only U-Turn once, and a team cannot be U-Turned twice in the same leg. In addition, a U-Turned team can U-Turn another team, and this can be done before they complete their extra Detour branch. However, it is possible for another team to strategically U-Turn a team that they are aware has already passed the U-Turn, thus nullifying the opportunity for another team that has already been U-Turned to use it. Season 18 introduced an "automatic U-Turn", where the team who came in last in the starting line task would have to do both tasks of the first Detour (which was not incurred until Leg 2). An automatic U-Turn was also used as the "Handicap" penalty for Leg 10 in the Norwegian edition of the show and The Amazing Race: Edição Brasil. From season 19 to season 22, the U-Turn sign was remade to use computer touchscreens, removing the need for teams to carry their "Courtesy of" photo, though teams could still only U-Turn another team once per race. When choosing the teams, the users are aware which teams are still in the race, but are not told what teams, if any, have passed the U-Turn sign. In season 21, a Blind Double U-Turn was included, incorporating the rules of a Blind U-Turn and a Double U-Turn.

Season two of the Israeli version introduced a different format of the U-Turn where, at the start of the Leg each team voted for who they wanted to receive the U-Turn. If two teams received the same number of votes, both would be U-Turned. This U-Turn format was also featured in season 2 of the Australian version alongside the regular format and season 1 of the Philippine version where it was known in both versions as the "Forced U-Turn". Season three of the Israeli version saw a different twist in a Double U-Turn, with the voting introduced in season 2 for the first U-Turn, but the team who was U-Turned was given the opportunity to use a U-Turn of their own. The second Chinese version of the race also used this format on the inaugural season's seventh leg.


The Intersection, used in U.S. seasons 10, 11, and 16, requires each team to pair up with one other team and perform all tasks and make decisions together until further notice. Should there be no other teams present when a given team arrives at the Intersection Route Marker, they must wait there until another team arrives, although they do not have to partner with that team and can opt to wait for another team instead. Teams are free to choose their partner team if multiple teams are present. Teams are not warned when an Intersection is coming. The Intersection may have teams simply working together on standard Route Marker tasks, or they may have to work together on Roadblocks (where one member from each team must complete the task) or Fast Forwards. The first season of the Australian version featured two separate Intersections during its run, with the second Intersection having a unique set of penalties for quitting part way through the task.

A special variation of the intersection; titled a "Nation vs Nation" challenge, was used on The Amazing Race: Australia vs New Zealand, where all of the remaining teams of a country must team up to complete a task as one group before continuing on with the race.

Head-to-Head/Face Off/Double Battle

Several versions of the program feature a unique obstacle which has teams compete against each other in a specific task. The winning team is given the next clue, while the losing team(s) must wait for the next team's arrival to start the task over. The last team(s) will receive a penalty. Most often, losing team(s) must wait out a 15-minute penalty before receiving the next clue. This was first introduced in season two of the Latin American version where it was called the Intersection (despite the extremely different rules to the regular Intersections). It has since been used in the Israeli versions where it is called a Double Battle, the 2nd Chinese called it as "Versus", it was later, in season 3 called "Face Off" by following the Canadian edition, the second season of the Philippine version where it was informally referred to as a "Duel", the second season of the Norwegian edition where it was also called an Intersection, seasons 3, 4 and 5 of the Canadian edition where it is called the "Face Off" and season 30 of the original U.S. version is also called "Head-to-Head".

In season 3 of the Canadian edition, if teams gave up at the Face Off, they incurred a 4-hour penalty at the Pit Stop. If all the other teams passed the Face Off (either by beating another team or by penalty), the remaining team did not receive a time penalty and could continue racing. In the 2nd Chinese version, if the teams cannot finish the Face Off, they must wait until the last team finishes the 15-minute penalty to perform another 15-minute penalty before continue racing.

It was officially introduced to the U.S. version in Season 30, naming it "Head-to-Head". The rules of the challenge remain mostly the same; the main difference being that the challenge was played at the leg's Pit Stop, with the team who lost the final Head-to-Head being immediately eliminated from the race.

Intersection with Integration Versus

Intersection with Integration Versus was first introduced on the second season of 2nd Chinese version. Both of the Intersection and Versus came together As two teams will be intersected and fight for the other two teams for the whole leg. Where first, four teams will need to choose which team they want to be intersected by "voting". Once both teams choose each other at the same time, it is successful intersected. Then, teams will need to do some task in some point by using head-to-head or timing. The team that wins the head-to-head challenge or the faster time will win two points. After five rounds, the team with the most points will automatically be first place. The second team will do a head-to-head challenge again. The winning team will keep while the losing team be eliminated. Similar rules adopted in Season 3 but teams were only intersected on one challenge and faced head-to-head against another intersect team in certain location, instead of the entire leg.

Race legs


Each leg of The Amazing Race generally consists of teams leaving from the previous Pit Stop and traveling to a different location (often in a different country), where they perform two or more tasks, generally including one Detour and one Roadblock, before being given instructions to go to the next Pit Stop. It is each team's goal to complete each leg as quickly as possible, as the first team to check in at the Pit Stop will win a prize; the prizes have included all-expenses paid trips, new cars or other vehicles, money, entertainment provided during the Pit Stop, and recently advantages to be used during the race (see Express Pass, Salvage Pass, and Double Your Money). The last team to arrive at the Pit Stop will generally be eliminated from the competition, but occasionally the team is allowed to continue racing although they will be given a Race-imposed disadvantage in the next leg (see Non-elimination leg). When teams are otherwise not performing tasks or traveling during a leg, they are free to use their time as they see fit, although they will often resort to eating cheaply or sleeping outside a location to save their Race money.

Start line task

First introduced in season 15 (and not repeated until season 18 and being used in subsequent seasons), the start line of the Race has featured a task that teams had to complete before being allowed to continue racing (earlier seasons simply had teams run towards their backpacks and first clue). The task generally features an item that provides a hint to their first destination, such as a number plate particular to the city or the name of the country's national airline. Teams that complete this task first may be given tickets for the first of two or more departing flights to their first city, giving those teams a time advantage on the first leg. In the 18th and 19th seasons, the last team to complete the task was given a penalty on top of having their last place departure; in season 15, the last place team was eliminated after having been unable to complete the task (out of 12 teams, there were only 11 clues and sets of plane tickets for their first destination).

In The Amazing Race Australia v New Zealand, the two nations' teams were pitted against each other in a game of tug of war, with the winning nations teams given a 10-minute head start.

Express Pass

The Express Pass, introduced in season 17, is given as a prize on an early leg of the race (usually the first leg, though it was awarded on the second leg of season 21 and offered on the second leg of season 25, and awarded on the sixth leg (to be used by the end of the ninth) of season 28). It allows the team to skip any single task (including Roadblocks, Detours, and miscellaneous tasks, but not the Fast Forward task), once, during the race. The choice of which task to skip is at the team's discretion, but the power, if unused, expires at the end of Leg 8 or 9, depending on season. The Express pass has since appeared in the Latin American edition as the Pase Directo (following the change production companies in season three) and in the Norwegian version as the Fripass. For season 22, the prize for the first leg were two Express Passes; however, the team that won them could only use one of them and had to relinquish the second Express Pass to another team before the end of the fourth leg, and for season 23 and season 24 they need to relinquish the second Express Pass to another team before the end of the fifth leg. In season 25, the Express Pass was given out in an optional task right before the Pit Stop, allowing any team to possibly win it rather than it being a definite award for a first-place finish on the leg. In season 27, the team that won the Express Pass must use the Express Pass before the fifth leg and must give the Express Pass to another team at the leg after they use it; the team who received the Express Pass must use the Express Pass on the next leg. In season 29, the Express Pass is given to one team member at the Starting Line at random; the team that won the Express Pass must use the Express Pass before the fifth leg. Season 30 of the original U.S. version marked the first any of international Amazing Race franchise did not feature the Express Pass. The fifth Canadian season featured three Express Passes on one task during the second leg, thus allowing any three teams to possibly win one; one team could win more than one Express Pass, but they must relinquish any extra away by the end of the third leg.

Including all international editions, the Express Pass has been awarded to 53 teams (six via optional tasks, 17 from the second Express Pass). 26 of the teams have made it to the final leg of the race, and six teams (including two teams who did not use their pass) have gone on to win the grand prize. A total of six Express Passes were forfeited (three teams were eliminated without ever using it).

Salvage Pass

The Salvage Pass, introduced in season two of the Australian version, is awarded to the winners of the first leg. The team who receives the pass may choose to give themselves a one-hour head start for the start of the next leg of the race or save the last team to arrive at the Pit Stop from elimination. This pass was also used alongside the Express Pass in The Amazing Race Philippines; however, teams in the Philippine version have the option of using it to gain a 30-minute advantage at a task rather than an hour at the start of the leg. For instance, it was used to enter the location of a clue box 30 minutes before opening time. The Salvage Pass was also featured in the third season of the Israeli version.

The Save

The Save, used in Season 25 of the U.S. version, is awarded in place of the Express Pass to the team that comes in first on the first leg, and allows the team holding it to avoid elimination once until the end of Leg 9. In the event that a team attempts to use it on a non-elimination leg, the Save is returned to them to use once more. The Save can also be given to another team to use if desired. The Save also appeared on season 26 but as an unaired task, but it did not return again after season 27 .

Return Ticket

A twist also called the Save was introduced in the Chinese celebrity edition where the team who won it was required to bring another team back into the competition. In the third season, the Save was renamed to Return Ticket, and the team who won the ticket could bring back another team before the fourth leg. Season six of the Israeli version also incorporated the Return Ticket by bringing back previously eliminated teams to compete a leg with the winner earning the Return Ticket and the ability to return to the Race.


The Hazard, seen in season 19, is a penalty applied to the team who came in last at the starting line task. After completing a task (in season 19 it was a Roadblock), the team was given a different clue that directed them to another location where they found the Hazard clue. The Hazard consisted of a task that only one of the team members had to perform. The Hazard did not reappear since season 20, despite the inclusion of a similar task at the starting line.

Double Your Money

Season 21 featured the Double Your Money prize, where if the team that finished first on the first leg won the race, their grand prize would double from US$1 million to US$2 million; however, the team that won the prize was eliminated before the final leg and no one was eligible to win the increased prize money. The Double Your Money prize was absent from subsequent seasons and was replaced by the 2 Express Passes.


The Invade was first introduced on the second season of 2nd Chinese version. The intruders will be starting the race at the start of a given leg. In their invasion leg, the intruders must place in the top (Ninth leg) or top two (seventh leg) to continue racing - if they fail their invasion, they may be eliminated from the race. If they succeed, the last team to check-in may be eliminated, and the intruders will keep on racing in future legs. This was removed on the season 3 of the Chinese version.

Pit Stop

The Pit Stop is the final destination in each leg of the race, and where all non-eliminated teams go after checking in at the mat. During Pit Stops, teams are given lodging (from simple accommodations as tents or cots to complete hotel service) and food free of charge. Teams forfeit Race materials such as clues to the production staff at this time. Teams will also give interviews with the production team to describe their activities from the last leg, which are interspersed during Race footage of that leg on subsequent broadcast. Teams are generally sequestered to the lodgings but may otherwise use their time freely. In early seasons, teams were allowed to "eat, sleep, and mingle" with each other, as described by the host, often creating friendships between teams. From around season 14 to season 25, teams were sequestered from each other during Pit Stops, and would often not learn of the previous elimination until they saw other teams on the next leg. Following season 25, teams have been allowed to mingle with other teams during Pit Stops.

Once the Pit Stop is complete, the team is given their next clue and allowed to start racing again. Each team's Pit Stop was originally 12 hours long starting from the time they reached the mat, or made longer with additional 24-hour segments as needed as to appear 12 hours long during broadcast. In more recent seasons, Pit Stop times have varied both longer or shorter to avoid teams loitering in airports or other areas. Penalties from the previous leg may also be applied to a team's Pit Stop time. Teams are responsible for being ready to leave at the correct time, and are given no time credit should they miss their departure time. In most cases, Teams leave from the same location they ended the previous leg at, but some Pit Stops have been on mobile housing, such as riverboats, with their point of departure changed during the course of the Pit Stop.

Double-length legs

Some Races have included a double-length leg, also called "to be continued" Legs, shown over two episodes or a single two-hour-long episode, where teams are not checked in at a Pit Stop but instead given a clue to continue racing. The clues that precede the midpoint of the double-length leg often will hint at a Pit Stop but will not include the normal language found in clues for normal-length legs that direct teams to the Pit Stop. In some cases, the host has been present along with the check-in mat to give teams their next clues. Double-length race legs were born out of necessity during season six. Leg six in Hungary was originally planned to be two legs, with a non-elimination point between the legs which would have stripped the last team of their money and not given them any at the start of the next leg. Producers discovered during the race that begging is illegal in Hungary, which would have made it nearly impossible for the last place team to acquire the money needed for the upcoming leg, and quickly devised the extended leg to mimic the effects of a non-elimination leg (keeping the same number of teams in the race), and using a simple video message clue to provide teams the goal for the first task of the second half of the leg.

More double-length legs were shown from seasons seven to ten, fourteen. It has also been featured occasionally of later American Amazing Race seasons. Every season of The Amazing Race Australia and one leg in seasons one and three of the Canadian version. In addition, the season finale of the Family Edition contained a double-length leg similar to season six. This was repeated in all seasons of the Latin American edition; however, the final leg was broadcast as two different episodes. In the inaugural season of The Amazing Race Philippines, this double-length leg is dubbed as "Super Leg"; however, in the season's final leg count the Super Leg is counted as two separate legs.

Non-elimination legs

A number of legs on each Race are predetermined "non-elimination legs", where the last team to check in is not eliminated. Up through U.S. season four, there was no penalty for finishing last on a non-elimination leg; this was repeated on one of the legs in season 17 (to make up for a production error). The first season of the French edition also lacks penalties for non-elimination legs, the first among the non-American editions to do so. Beginning with the fifth American season, teams who have finished in last place in a non-elimination leg have been subjected to one of the following penalties in the next leg:

Stripped of money and belongings

In U.S. seasons five through nine, the last team to check in was stripped of all their money and was not given any money at the start of the next leg, forcing that team to literally beg for money from the local population of the city they were in for such expenses as cab, bus, or train fare. In addition, from seasons seven through nine, these teams would also be forced to give up all their bags and possessions therein, leaving them with only the clothes on their backs and the fanny pack teams use to carry their passports and Race documentation; this latter penalty caused many teams, thinking themselves to be in last place, to wear as much clothing as possible before checking in.

Marked for elimination

In most international versions of the show, as well as in seasons 10 and 11 of the U.S. version, a team that finished last on a non-elimination leg would be "marked for elimination" on the next leg: if they failed to finish first at the next Pit Stop, they received a 30-minute penalty upon checking in, which could allow other teams to check in ahead of them. If all trailing teams checked in during the penalty, the penalized team could fall to last place and be eliminated. Starting with season 12, the U.S. version replaced the "marked for elimination" penalty with the Speed Bump.

Speed Bump

From season 12 onward, the penalty for finishing last in a non-elimination leg is that the affected team will have to perform a "Speed Bump" task at some point during the next leg. Teams would be alerted to the upcoming Speed Bump by a Route Marker clue prior to it, while the Speed Bump itself is displayed in a manner similar to the Yield showing the affected team's picture at a stand near to the regular Route Marker. Once the team completes the Speed Bump task, they may receive the next clue that they would have gotten at the Route Marker, or they may have to backtrack to the location of the cluebox to get their next clue, depending on the task. If the team fails to complete the Speed Bump, they will receive a four-hour penalty at the Pit Stop. The tasks that teams have been called on to perform are generally not very difficult or time-consuming, and the majority of teams that have been hit by the Speed Bump have recovered from it quickly enough to avoid immediate elimination, and some have even won the subsequent leg.

Other non-elimination penalties

In the Norwegian edition, the "Handicap" (Handikap in Norwegian) was introduced. Rather than instituting a different task for a team to perform, a specific task is made more difficult for the team with the penalty, such as increasing the output requirements for a task (e.g., teams only have to make 50 items at the task, but the team with the Handicap has to make 75) or a penalty may be given, such as requiring both Detours to be done.

In the Vietnamese edition, the team that comes in last on some non-elimination legs must come first in the next leg or be stripped of all their money, and they are not given any money at the start of the following leg.

In the Ukrainian version, the team that comes in last on non-elimination legs will receive a 1-hour penalty at the next pit stop, regardless of their position.

In the season two of second Chinese Version, two legs have the penalty on the rest period of the teams, where on the third leg, the last team must stay on a shop for a night and sleep on the ground. On Leg 8, during a flight to the next destination, the penalty required the last team from the seventh leg to fly economy class, while other teams fly in business class (which is usual in the series).

Unusual eliminations

There have been many eliminations which have been unusual which may involve a team being eliminated outside a Pit Stop or more than one team being eliminated.

  • The first unusual elimination occurred in U.S. season 10 where the last team to check in at designated midpoint in the first leg was eliminated. This leg also featured a regular elimination at the Pit Stop. Season 25 and 26 have also featured a midpoint elimination; however, these occurred in the final leg.
  • Season 15 featured another unusual elimination in its first leg, where only 11 sets of airline tickets were available to the first destination city, and the Race began with twelve teams. After eleven teams completed the task at the starting line and received tickets to their first destination, the last team remaining was eliminated; at the Pit Stop later, the last team was not eliminated. This was repeated in China Rush season three, with 11 teams and only 10 sets of bus tickets and in season 5 of the Asian version, with 11 teams and only 10 clues to the next destination. Unlike the two editions, the Asian version did have a standard end-of-leg elimination.
  • Season 19 featured the first double-elimination leg, where the last two teams to arrive at a Pit Stop were both eliminated. This was repeated in The Amazing Race: Edição Brasil, season 5 of the Latin American version and the second season of the Philippine version.
  • Season two of HaMerotz LaMillion also featured a double-elimination; one team arriving at the airport last was eliminated (they were not given tickets to travel to the first destination city), in addition to the standard end-of-leg elimination. The airport elimination of HaMerotz LaMillion was also used in the inaugural season of the Norge. Unlike the Israeli edition, the Norwegian version did not have a second elimination in the first leg.
  • Season 1 of Second Chinese Version had a "to be continue"/double-length leg as the final leg, where the team who arrived last at the first pit-stop was eliminated while the remaining teams were given their next clue and told to keep on racing.

Final leg

The final leg of the race is run by the three remaining teams. In earlier U.S. seasons, the leg was a non-elimination or double-length leg, with an intermediate destination in or near the home country (such as Hawaii, Alaska or Canada for the U.S. version) prior to traveling to the final city back in the home country. However, in more recent Races, final legs have been single legs, whereby teams are flown directly from the final foreign country to the final city in the home country. On some versions of the race, such as the Australian version, the final leg may still feature an intermediate destination.

Teams still must complete all of the tasks in the final city before they are directed to the finish line mat to claim the cash reward for the winning team as well as various prizes. The mat has always been the series logo in all the seasons. The grand prize for the U.S. version at the finish line is US$1 million. At the check-in mat, the host and in most cases the other eliminated teams celebrate the arrival of the teams. Generally all three teams are allowed to arrive. In rare cases, a trailing team may be so far behind and outside the final city that they are given a clue at their next Route Marker that informs them of the Race results. To date, this has only happened twice in the U.S. version, occurring in seasons one and four.

Starting with season nine of the U.S. version and recent seasons of most foreign versions feature a challenge which tests the contestants on their time spent during the race, such as the locations they visited and/or how well they know their partner. Such task usually appears as the second-to-last or last challenge. Such a challenge is usually a "Route Info" task, but it sometimes appears as a "Roadblock" task.

During seasons 25, 26 four teams begin racing in the final leg, but at some point during the leg one of the four teams was eliminated from the race.

Rules and penalties

All teams must abide by the rules set at the beginning of the race. Failure to do so can result in time penalties, which can negatively affect finishing position in that leg of the race. In a non-elimination leg, if the last team to arrive at the mat is checked in before a previous team has completed its penalty, then the remainder of the penalty time will be waited out at the start of the next leg of the race, beginning at the departure time of the next-to-last team.

While the complete set of official rules has not been released to the public, certain rules have been revealed during the various editions of the race:


  • Unless otherwise stated, such as during Roadblocks, team members must stay within 20 feet (6.1 m) of each other and stay close to their assigned camera and sound crew. When using any form of transportation, unless otherwise stated, teams must be able to travel with the camera crew. Teams are recorded requesting only two tickets after they have made their initial request for four.
  • Teams are required to purchase economy class airfare when they fly, using the credit card provided by the show. The airline, at its discretion however, may upgrade the team(s) so long as there are no additional costs. Teams may use their cash stipend to purchase first-class fares for other modes of transportation. Teams may be forbidden from flying on certain airlines or restricted to specific airlines or restricted to transit in certain countries varying on seasons.
  • Teams are prohibited from contacting friends, family, and acquaintances during the Race without supervision. The Race however may provide them with an opportunity to contact them at select times. When this happens while the race is going on, teams are not allowed to proceed to their next task. In special circumstances, the production team will allow racers to contact family members outside of a race-required task.
  • Unless otherwise stated by the clues, teams are allowed to use the help of locals for navigating and during tasks. Teams are required to have any locals who appear on camera sign release forms that legally clear the footage for use; some teams have avoided or reduced contacts with random local strangers because the release process can take a very long time to complete.
  • Teams are free to work together at any point unless otherwise stated by the rules. Excluding the use of the Yield and U-Turn, teams are prohibited from hindering the performance of other teams such as by taking extra clues from a clue box, taking another team's assigned vehicle, altering the equipment for other teams at a task or using more than one Yield or one U-Turn at a time.
  • In any tasks that provides the teams with equipment, tools, animals, guides, or other props, teams are forbidden from changing these mid-task. Teams are forbidden from interfering with such equipment for other teams. When teams are given rental cars, and the car breaks down outside of the team's control, they will be given a replacement vehicle but given no additional time credits for the time it takes to replacement.
  • Teams are prohibited from possessing maps, guidebooks, cell phones, personal digital assistants and other similar aids at the start of the Race, but may use the provided money to purchase these as they progress. These may be provided by the show if required for a certain task.
  • Teams are prohibited from using their personal items to barter for services on the race, though they are not necessarily prohibited from selling them for cash. The teams' bags may be subject to review during Pit Stops by production. Teams are free to sell or barter any items they have purchased during the course of the race.
  • In cases where teams are instructed to walk or drive themselves to a destination, teams are not allowed to hire a taxi to guide or take them through the route. In early seasons of the original series, teams frequently employed this tactic; several exchanges of dialogue in Season 17 indicate that it is now prohibited.
  • Teams are expected to keep the Race fanny pack containing their cash, passports, clues, and other documents with them at all times. Teams that do not have these upon check-in at a Pit Stop are required to go back and retrieve the pack and any missing mandatory contents (e.g., passports) before being checked in. In one case, during Season 21, a team had one of their passports stolen by a cab driver during a non-elimination leg that was followed by a leg in the same country. The team was checked-in last for a non-elimination finish and allowed to race in the following leg but would be eliminated if they still lacked their passport by the time they were required to produce one for international travel. Teams may check in after losing or abandoning any non-mandatory items (e.g., items of clothing), but they must continue the race without them.
  • Teams must complete each challenge as specified by the clues given to them throughout the Race. Should a team fail to properly complete a challenge, violate any provisions made in a clue or task description, or miss a clue altogether (unless specifically allowed to do so, e.g., by winning the Fast Forward, or by using an Express Pass), they must either go back to the location of the challenge and complete the challenge, or incur a penalty when they check in (see Penalties and time credits below).
  • In order to check in, all team members must step on the mat. In season 30 of the U.S. version, the first leg ended in a photo finish between the last two teams; the team of the last racer to step onto the map was eliminated.
  • Teams are forbidden from touching another team's belongings, such as removing them from a taxi to use the new taxi. However, if the taxi driver removes the items, the team will not be penalized. Teams also may not intentionally hinder another team by hiding materials needed for a task.
  • Teams are prohibited from begging where it is illegal. On the U.S. version, teams are additionally prohibited from begging at U.S. airports.
  • Racers may not smoke on the Race.
  • Teams are required to abide by all local laws of the country where they are racing.
  • Starting in U.S. season 25, teams may only book one travel itinerary for themselves. They were no longer able to book a second set of tickets if they subsequently discovered a second flight that they preferred once they purchased the first booking. DVD commentary for the first season reveals that this was originally a rule, but was dropped for the subsequent season.

The teams are often given additional rules and instructions that apply specifically to a given leg or to a task supplied with one of the clues; these are usually not explained to the viewer unless they affect the Race results.

Penalties and time credits

If a team trying to check in at the Pit Stop has committed an infraction during the leg, the team generally must return to the point of infraction and perform the task or action correctly before being allowed to check in. If it is impossible to correct the action, the team is instead asked to wait at a nearby spot to serve a penalty period before being allowed to officially check-in. The penalty for most rule infractions is 30 minutes, plus any time gained from breaking the rule. Minor violations for various tasks would have a penalty of 15 minutes. Some violations have longer penalties: two hours for bartering personal goods for services, up to four hours for failing to complete a miscellaneous task, four hours for failing to complete a Roadblock or Speed Bump, six hours for failing to complete a Detour (or completing a Fast Forward incorrectly), and 24 hours for flying outside of economy class, if doing so cost more than the economy class fare. Earlier seasons of the Race enforced a 24-hour penalty for not completing either Detour option, but by season 17, the penalty was reduced to six hours. If teams incur multiple penalties, they are cumulative.

Roadblock penalties

If a player is unable to complete the Roadblock, the team is assessed a four-hour penalty. In most versions, the penalty is served upon arrival at the pit stop but on the US version, the penalty can be enforced in a number of ways.

  • If circumstances force the penalized team to continue racing (e.g., the site is about to close for the day), the penalty is served at the Pit Stop.
  • If they are not forced to continue racing, and all teams have arrived at the Roadblock, the penalty begins the moment the team announces its intention to quit.
  • If they are not forced to continue racing, and at least one team has yet to arrive at the Roadblock, the penalty does not begin until the next team arrives.

Season Two of the Israeli version has only a one-hour penalty for not finishing a Roadblock task. One Roadblock in U.S. Season 20 only had a limited number of props for teams to use in attempting the task; if they ran out, they only had to serve a two-hour penalty before checking in at the Pit Stop.

A penalized team does not generally have to wait out its full penalty time at the Pit Stop if the team is in last place and all other teams have already checked in. Instead, the team will be immediately eliminated, or, if the leg is non-elimination, the remainder of the penalty will be applied to the team's start time on the next leg. Occasionally, infractions have come to the production team's attention only after the team has checked in; in these cases, the penalty will be applied to the start of the next leg (with viewers given notification if it affects the departure order). In U.S. Season 3, such a situation resulted in changing which team finished in last place; production brought the penalized team back to the Pit Stop, where host Phil Keoghan explained to the teammates what had happened and then officially eliminated them.

Should a vehicle (including cars and boats) break down through no fault of the team using it, a replacement vehicle is provided for them, but "no time credit is given for their wait in this unlucky situation."

Teams may also receive time credits, applied to the next leg, that results from "production difficulties." These are only revealed to the viewer if they affect the placement at the start of the next leg.


The production of The Amazing Race is a challenge due to its premise being a race around the world. Among the difficult duties that producers face, scouting out locations, designing tasks, selecting teams, and planning logistics for the entire course are the most important to accomplish in pre-production. During the Race, the camera crews need to keep up with the movement of the teams and the host. And when the footage for the entire season has been recorded and edited, team members, production crew as well as the local staff who hosted or facilitated the tasks are obliged to keep the details of the race confidential and not leak out anything that hints at locations, events, or outcomes of the Race. A small exception is the television network that airs the show in a country which hosted one of the legs where they can air teasers such as "Who among the teams will come here to (the network's home country name)?" However, in recent U.S. seasons, CBS had released a map to show the locations that the racers would be visiting.

The show is broadcast on CBS in the United States and simulcast via satellite in various networks around the world.

Through its efforts, the U.S. version has received many accolades, including Primetime Emmy Awards and nominations in categories for audio and video production and editing. In 2010, CBS announced that season 18 of the show would be broadcast in high definition.

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