The Amazing Race 2015 Application Essay

The Amazing Race 27
Season runSeptember 25 (2015-09-25) – December 11, 2015 (2015-12-11)
Filming datesJune 22 (2015-06-22)[1] – July 14, 2015 (2015-07-14)
No. of episodes12
PresenterPhil Keoghan
Winning teamKelsey Gerckens & Joey Buttitta
Season statistics
Continents visited5
Countries visited10
No. of legs12
Distance traveled34,000 mi (55,000 km)
Season chronology

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Season 26

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Season 28

The Amazing Race 27 was the twenty-seventh installment of the U.S. reality television show The Amazing Race. It featured eleven teams of two, with each team centered on a pre-existing relationship between the cast members such as marriage, dating, or best friends. Teams competed in a race around the world for a US$1 million grand prize.[2]

This season premiered on September 25, 2015.[3]

Dating news reporters Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta were the winners of this season.

Production and filming[edit]


Seen on The Amazing Race 25, the show's Twitter page announced this season's filming on June 22, 2015. The tweet announced the season's open start at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California and invited fans to join in sending the new teams off on their race. The open start revealed that teams would head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[1][4]

This season covered 34,000 miles (55,000 km) across five continents and ten countries, including visits to Argentina, Zambia, France, the Netherlands, Poland, India, and the ChineseSpecial administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau; there was also a first-time visit to Zimbabwe.[5]

This season boasted numerous first-time roadblocks for contestants. First, during the Speed Bump in the ninth leg, Tanner and Josh had to complete the roadblock challenge, one after the other, marking the first time since the introduction of the Speed Bump wherein no Speed Bump boards existed throughout the race course. This was also the first time since the introduction of the U-Turn that three U-Turns were used, unlike the usual two U-Turns in previous races. The race also featured both a Double U-Turn and an Ordinary U-Turn for the first time. It was also the first time that a U-Turn board was placed at the Detour decision point, before the Detour itself.

Although Fitbit and Travelocity continued sponsoring the show, Ford discontinued their sponsorship for this season. This was, therefore, the first American edition, or any International version, with no production-provided vehicles to be driven by the racers since The Amazing Race's inception in 2001.

New episodes had the intro shortened despite the use of commercials.


See also: List of The Amazing Race (U.S. TV series) contestants

The cast included TMZ staff Kelly Berning (editor) and Shevonne Sullivan (post production supervisor), reporters Kelsey Gerckens and Joey Buttitta from KEYT-TV, former New York Jets cheerleaders Tiffany Chantell Torres and Krista DeBono, and former America's Best Dance Crew contestants Ernest "E-Knock" Phillips and Jayjion "Jin Lao" Greer.[4][6][7] Justin Scheman and Diana Bishop are known for their viral "Amazing Race" proposal video.[8]

After the race, winners Kelsey and Joey got engaged.[9] They eventually married on August 25, 2017.

Krista later appeared as the Pit Stop greeter in leg 2 at New York City on HaMerotz LaMillion 6, the Israeli version of the Race.

Justin & Diana also appeared on Season 30 as the attendance at the starting line.


The following teams participated in the 27th season of The Amazing Race. Each team is listed with their relationship status, as announced by CBS, and the name used on the show's chyrons.[4]

TeamRelationshipTeam namePosition (by leg)Roadblocks
Kelsey & JoeyDating News AnchorsThe Reporters8th7th3rd4th4th3rd2nd2nd2nd⊃2nd2nd1stKelsey 6, Joey 6
Justin & DianaEngagedThe Green Team9th1st2nd1st2nd1st1st1st1st1st⊃3rd72ndJustin 6, Diana 6
Logan & ChrisDating PaparazziThe Paparazzi5th4th5th6th6th6th5th4th3rd4th⊂1st3rdLogan 6, Chris 6
Tiffany & KristaFormer NFL CheerleadersThe Cheerleaders10th6th8th8th45th2nd3rd5th4th3rd4thTiffany 5, Krista 6
Denise & James EarlMother/SonTeam Alabama4th3rd6th23rd1stə57th6th3rd5th5thDenise 4, James Earl 6
Tanner & JoshBest FriendsTeam Texas1st2nd1st2ndε33rd4th4th6th6th⊂Tanner 4, Josh 53,6
Cindy & RickNewlywedsTeam ChacAttack3rd5th7th5th7th5th7thCindy 3, Rick 4
Jazmine & DanielleBest Friends/AthletesThe Track Stars2nd8th4th7th8thJazmine 2, Danielle 2
Ernest & JinBrothersThe Dancers7th9th9thErnest 1, Jin 1
Alex & AdamCousinsThe Cousins6th10thAlex 1, Adam 0
Kelly & ShevonneCo-WorkersTeam TMZ11th1Kelly 0, Shevonne 0
  • A red team placement means the team was eliminated.
  • A green ƒ indicates that the team won a Fast Forward. If placed next to a leg number, this indicates the Fast Forward was available but not used.
  • A purple ε indicates that the team decided to use the first Express Pass on that leg. A magenta ə indicates the team had previously been given the second Express Pass and used it on that leg.
  • An underlined leg number indicates that there was no mandatory rest period at the Pit Stop and all teams were ordered to continue racing. An underlined team placement indicates that the team came in last on a "continue racing" leg and was ordered to continue racing.
  • A brown ⊃ or a cyan ⋑ indicates that the team chose to use one of the two U-Turns in a Double U-Turn; ⊂ or ⋐ indicates the team who received it;
    indicates that the team was U-Turned, but they used the second U-Turn on another team; ⊂ and ⋑ around a leg number indicates that the Double U-Turn was available for that leg but not used.
  • An underlined blue team's placement indicates that the team came in last on a non-elimination leg and had to perform a Speed Bump during the next leg of the race.
  1. ^ Kelly & Shevonne completed the Detour after 3 hours and 45 minutes; however, they never made it to the Pit Stop. After all the other teams had already checked in at the Pit Stop, Phil came to the Copacabana Beach to inform them of their elimination.
  2. ^ Denise & James Earl initially arrived 5th, but were issued a 30-minute penalty after Denise verbally helped her son during the Roadblock. Logan & Chris checked-in during their penalty time, dropping Denise & James Earl to 6th.
  3. ^ Tanner & Josh used their Express Pass to bypass the Roadblock on Leg 4. Before using the Express Pass, Josh elected to perform the Roadblock; this is reflected in the total Roadblock count.[10] When Tanner & Josh arrived 2nd at the Pit Stop, Phil ordered all teams to continue racing and they were required to give the Express Pass to another team on the next leg of the race. They had to hand it to Phil immediately at the Pit Stop and tell him which team should have it.
  4. ^ Tiffany & Krista used their U-Turn on Justin & Diana; however, they had already passed the U-Turn point and were therefore unaffected by it.
  5. ^ Denise & James Earl used the Express Pass given to them by Tanner & Josh to bypass the Detour on Leg 5.
  6. ^ For their Speed Bump in Leg 9, Tanner & Josh both had to individually complete the Roadblock. Since Tanner opted to do the roadblock before finding out they both had to do the roadblock, only Tanner's performance is reflected in their total Roadblock count.
  7. ^ Justin & Diana initially arrived 3rd, but were issued a 55-minute penalty (30-minute standard penalty plus 25-minutes for time gained) for taking a ferry from Kowloon (Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal) instead of the Hong Kong–Macau Ferry Terminal, as the clue specifically instructed. This did not affect their placement.

Episode title quotes[edit]

Episode titles are often taken from quotes made by the racers.[11]

  1. "A Little Too Much Beefcake" – Justin
  2. "Get in There and Think Like a Dog" – Justin
  3. "Where My Dogs At?" – Ernest
  4. "Good Old Fashioned Spit in the Face" – Josh
  5. "King of the Jungle" – Joey
  6. "My Tongue Doesn't Even Twist That Way" – Justin
  7. "Full Speed Ahead, Captain!" – Justin
  8. "Krakow, I'm Gonna Get You" – Tanner
  9. "It's Always the Quiet Ones" – Krista
  10. "Bring the Fun, Baby!" – Justin
  11. "It's Not Easy Beating Green" – Krista
  12. "We Got a Chance, Baby!" – Justin


The prize for each leg was awarded to the first place team for that leg. Trips were sponsored by Travelocity, and miscellaneous prizes were also[clarification needed] sponsored by Fitbit. The prizes for the legs were:

  • Leg 1 – the Express Pass1
  • Leg 2 – a trip for two to El Jadida, Morocco
  • Leg 3 – a trip for two to Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Leg 4 – none2
  • Leg 5 – a trip for two to Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Leg 6 – none2
  • Leg 7 – a cash prize from Fitbit3
  • Leg 8 – a trip for two to Shanghai, China
  • Leg 9 – a trip for two to Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Leg 10 – US$5,000 each
  • Leg 11 – a trip for two to Cuzco, Peru
  • Leg 12 – US$1,000,000
  1. ^ The Express Pass could be used on the race to skip any one task of the team's choosing, before the end of the 5th leg. When the Express Pass was used, that team had to hand it over to another team, who had to use it on the next leg.
  2. ^ Keep Racing: No prize was mentioned as awarded to the first place team on this leg. Instead, teams were told that they were to immediately continue racing.
  3. ^ The cash prize from Fitbit matched the total sum of the winning team's (Justin & Diana's) total footsteps on the Leg: $31,873. Fitbit also gave them an 89-minute massage to enjoy at the Pit Stop, the time matching the higher heart rate of the pair (Justin's) at the end of the Leg.

Race summary[edit]

Leg 1 (United States → Brazil)[edit]

Airdate: September 25, 2015[12]

The Fast Forward told the teams to go Clube São Conrado Free Flight where they had to ride a hang glider from Pedra Bonita and soar above the city.

The first Detour of the Race in Copacabana Beach was a choice between Sand or Sidewalk. In Sand, teams had to play footvolley against local professional players. While the pros could not use their hands, the teams could. If teams could score six points before the pros scored eighteen, they would receive their next clue. In Sidewalk, teams had to do a giant geometric slide puzzle derived from the Copacabana pavement (a Portuguese pavement style). Once teams completed the puzzle, they received their next clue.

Additional tasks
  • From the starting line, teams were told by host Phil Keoghan their first destination: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. First, they had to take a taxi to Mother's Beach and grab a Schiller water-bike, then drive it to Burton Chace Park and finish the Race course.
    • The first team to complete this task received the only tickets on the first flight, while all the other teams departed a half-hour later on the second flight.
  • At Lagoa Heliport, teams had to pick a number and take a helicopter past Christ the Redeemer on the way to Urca Hill. Once they landed, the helicopter manager asked the teams, "What's the name of the monument you passed during the flight?" If teams gave the correct answer, which was Christ the Redeemer, they received their next clue.

Leg 2 (Brazil → Argentina)[edit]

Airdate: October 2, 2015[13]

The Detour was a choice between Cartoneros or Fletero. In Cartoneros, teams traveled to the Villa Crespo neighborhood at the intersection of Uriarte, Fray Justo Santa Maria and El Salvador Streets, where they had to pick up a cart, collect cardboard from recyclable bins, and transport it to a truck to be weighed. Once the cardboard reached a total weight of at least 100 kilograms (220 lb), the garbage worker gave them their next clue. However, there were only eight carts available at a time. In Fletero, teams traveled to Plaza Dorrego and made their way to a Gabriel del Campo Antique Shop to pick up a statue, in pieces, and bring it to a truck. One team member would sit in the front and give the driver directions, while the other would hold the statue pieces in the back until reaching their next destination, the gazebo at Plaza Intendente Sebeer. Once they arrived at the park, they brought all of the statue pieces, properly re-assembled them, and showed them to the park director. Once correct, they received their next clue.

In the Race's first Roadblock, one team member had to learn a tango routine with a twist: for the second half of the dance they were harnessed and had to finish the steps on the wall of a stage. Once they performed the entire routine correctly, they received their next clue.

Additional tasks
  • Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, teams had to locate the church where Pope Francis was baptized, leaving them to figure out that this refers to Basílica María Auxiliadora y San Carlos. Once at the church, teams had to pick a number in the order in which they arrived. The following morning, teams went inside the church, one at a time, to find the altar room where the priest gave them their next clue.
  • After completing the Roadblock, teams were told to go to "The Cathedral of Polo", leaving them to figure out that Campo Argentino de Polo was the Pit Stop of this leg.

Leg 3 (Argentina)[edit]

Airdate: October 9, 2015[14]

In this leg's Roadblock, one member from each team had to properly hang two racks of lamb and one rack of beef ribs onto a set of metal grills to cook the meat asado-style. Once the hanging meats met the head cook's standards (i.e., skewered with the bones oriented in the correct direction and secured on all sides), the head chef would give them their next clue.

The Detour was a choice between Horse or Carriage. In Horse, teams had to pick a polo mallet from the plaza and walk to Boliche de Bessonart to change into polo gear. Then, they had to walk to a riverside to pick out a fake horse that needed to be properly tacked and pushed back to the plaza. In Carriage, teams had to pick a buggy whip from the plaza and travel by foot to La Cinacina Estancia. There they had to change into gaucho clothing, clean a carriage, and then push it to a team of waiting horses. Once the horses were harnessed to the buggy, they had to ride back to the plaza. At the end of both Detours, teams had to present either the fake horse or buggy whip to the judges to receive their next clue.

Additional tasks
  • Upon arrival in San Antonio de Areco, teams had to choose a pickup truck to proceed to their next destination, La Porteña, and their next clue.
  • After the Roadblock, teams had to bring a roasted lamb to Plaza Principal and deliver it to the judges, in order to receive their next clue.
  • After completing the Detour, teams were instructed to travel by foot to the Pit Stop at Parque Criollo y Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes.

Leg 4 (Argentina → Zambia → Zimbabwe)[edit]

Airdate: October 16, 2015[15]

In this leg's Roadblock, one member from each team had to choose a microlight plane and fly above Victoria Falls to spot the route marker below the mist on Knife's Edge Bridge. Once landed, they reunited with their partner and traveled across Knife's Edge Bridge for their next clue.

The Detour was a choice between Co-Op or Croquet. In Co-Op, teams made their way to The Big Five Co-Op and had to stain and polish a carved wooden giraffe. When it was properly painted and dried, a woodcarver gave them their next clue. In Croquet, teams made their way to Victoria Falls Hotel and had to play croquet, scoring five points against professional players to receive their next clue.

Additional tasks
  • Teams were informed that their flight was from Buenos Aires to Livingstone, Zambia. They were tasked to book their tickets to O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa and given two separate flight options to Livingstone that arrived 15 minutes apart.
  • Upon arrival in Livingstone, teams made their way to Mukuni Village and took part in a traditional welcome ceremony in which the village chief spat water on them as a blessing.
  • At the Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge in the nearby country of Zimbabwe, teams had to spend the night and pick one of three times to leave the following morning: 8:00 a.m., 8:10 a.m., or 8:20 a.m.

Leg 5 (Zimbabwe)[edit]

Airdate: October 23, 2015[16]

In this leg's Roadblock, each team had to select one member to participate in the very first task from season 1. The team member had to strap on a harness and free-fall 200 feet (61 m) into the Batoka Gorge and swing above the Zambezi River. Once they returned to the top, they got their next clue.

The Detour was a choice between Crocs or Canoes. In Crocs, teams had to travel to Crocodile Cage Diving at Elephants Walk Shopping and Artist Village. The teams changed into wetsuits and were submerged in a metal cage, using poles to feed meat to three Nile crocodiles. Once the meat was fed, they received their next clue. In Canoes, teams had to travel to A Zambezi River Lodge where they had to get an inflatable canoe and paddle together across the river. Once they arrived at the riverbank, one team member had to hoist their partner up a tree to retrieve the clue from a vulture's nest. Teams then paddled back across the river.

Additional tasks
  • After the Detour, teams were instructed to travel to The Lion Encounter at Masuwe Safari Lodge. Accompanied by safari instructors and two lions, they walked through the bush to find their next clue hidden in a skull. Only two teams were permitted to attempt this task at the same time.
  • After teams found their clue they had to walk to Masuwe Private Game Reserve, where they received a large cloth to tie around their heads. Each then had to get a basket of fruit at Masuwe Lodge to carry on their heads and continue walking carefully to the Pit Stop.

Leg 6 (Zimbabwe → France)[edit]

Airdate: October 30, 2015[17]

In the leg's first Roadblock, one member from each team had to strap-on a harness and bungee jump 364 feet (111 m) from the Victoria Falls Bridge. Once they returned to the top of the bridge, the bungee jumper's heart rate was recorded from a Fitbitfitness watch. Teams were advised to track Fitbit information throughout the leg as it would be used in the challenges. Teams then flew to Paris, France.

In the leg's second Roadblock, the team member who did not participate in the first Roadblock flew in a vintage Boeing PT-17biplane over the French countryside and spotted on the ground three words from a motto of the French Revolution: liberté, égalité, fraternité. Once they recited the words, the biplane pilot gave them their next clue.

The Detour was a choice between Drops Mic or Bust a Crab. In Drops Mic, teams had to head to Quai de la Tournelle and perform a Standard Frenchrap song 79 à 99 by rapper Passi. If their French pronunciation, rhythm, and vibes were correct, Passi gave them their next clue. In Bust a Crab, teams had to travel to La Coupole Restaurant to work on a French signature crab dish, the Royal Platter. They properly shucked and cracked crabs to meet the chef's standards. Once satisfied, the chef exchanged the crab dish for their next clue.

Additional tasks
  • At Square Louise-Michel in Paris' Sacré-Cœur Basilica, teams had to search the ground for Le Fantôme Blanc, who would hand them their next clue.
  • After completing the Detour, teams received a postcard depicting the Pont Alexandre III bridge where they would find their next clue.
  • After getting the clue, teams were told to find "across from the iconic monument where the first team will triumph", referring to Place Charles de Gaulle that overlooks Arc de Triomphe.

Leg 7 (France → The Netherlands)[edit]

Airdate: November 6, 2015[18]

In this leg's Roadblock, one team member had to find an exact duplicate of Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers placed around nearby windmills. If they found the correct duplicate, a miller gave them their next clue.

The Detour was a choice between Ship or Skip. For both Detours, teams traveled by tram to a specific location. In Ship, teams made their way to Millennium Tower to use a training simulator that simulated navigating Rotterdam Harbour in stormy weather. The simulation was a two-part mission, where the first part was to deliver a pilot to a ship and the second part was to go to the aid of a distressed ship. They had to try until they successfully completed the mission within five minutes to get their next clue from the captain. In Skip, teams made their way to Leuvehoofd Park and had to complete a 45-second Double Dutch clapping routine on a jump rope to receive their next clue.

Additional tasks
  • At the start of the leg, teams were told to travel by train to the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. In addition, they received a picture of a ship and had to figure out their next location was Vessel 11. Upon arrival, teams picked a departure time – set in 15-minutes intervals, from 5:00 a.m to 6:30 a.m. – and spent the night on the ship.
  • Teams had to take a water taxi from Kop van Zuid to the windmills in Kinderdijk to get their next clue.
  • After the Roadblock, teams had to record their highest heart rate from the previous leg and their heart rate from this leg's Roadblock and subtract the difference. The solution would determine the number of tulips they would have to pick up and deliver to the Spakenburgermeisje (Dutch for 'the girl at Spakenburg') to receive their next clue.
  • After getting the clue, teams had to take a water taxi to Nolet Distillery to receive their next clue.
  • After the Detour, teams had to take a train to The Hague and then a tram to the Pit Stop.

Leg 8 (The Netherlands → Poland)[edit]

Airdate: November 13, 2015[19]

Complete race route of The Amazing Race 27.
For the Roadblock in the Pampas region, team members had to properly hang racks of lamb and beef to make asado, an Argentine national dish.
This leg of the race featured the first challenge of season 1 where they had to swing across Batoka Gorge.

In the often dodgy realm of reality television, "The Amazing Race" is a shining beacon of quality. While other shows tend to turn tangled, tacky or just downright scripted, "The Amazing Race" holds to a standard that few have matched. The televised race around the world -- now in its twenty-fifth season! -- has won 15 Emmys, including 10 for "Outstanding Reality-Competition" -- a reality program's top honor.

Elise Doganieri accidentally birthed the idea for the show while complaining to her now-husband, producer Bertram van Munster, about how "there were no good shows on TV." He challenged her to come up with something better. She remembered the pains and joys of backpacking Europe after college with a best friend. Why don't we do something like that?

A star was born -- one that would permanently change how we perceive travel.

"The Amazing Race" has visited an estimated 82 countries on six continents over the years. And with one host, 22 contestants per season and as many as 2,000 crew members around the world working on the show at any given time, there is a lot to coordinate. HuffPost Travel talked with Elise Doganieri, now the show's executive producer and a co-creator along with her husband, about the logistics of weaving such an intricate, time-sensitive and travel-heavy program.

Turns out the system is a lot more nonchalant -- but no less complex -- than you might think. Here's how they do it.


To plan the route, they literally just play with a massive map on the wall.

Doganieri and van Munster start as any masterminds of a 30-day world tour would: in a place they call The War Room, with a wall-size map of the planet. And very little is off-limits. "We think, 'what's exciting?,'" Doganieri says. "'Where haven't we been?'" To that end, the couple has multiple shoeboxes of old passports -- Doganieri estimates her husband has filled more than 25 of the extra-large kind.

They visit EVERYWHERE first.

After mapping out a basic route, van Munster scouts the actual locations while Doganieri stays home to cast the teams. On his scouting tour, van Munster might talk with hotels, meet with local producers or survey spots for the show's famous Roadblock challenges. When he comes back, Doganieri has a slate of contestants ready to go. That's when the couple heads to The War Room, where every episode of the season gets mapped out on a wall along with Roadblocks, challenges and Pit Stops. It's a giant puzzle of the most exhilarating kind.

Doganieri and van Munster at Al Jahili Fort, United Arab Emirates during Season 23

Crews are staked out in every country ahead of time...

After being in the media business for decades, van Munster has production contacts all over the world. The show works with "local facilitators" in each season's host countries to coordinate filming permits, hotel rooms, translators and hire local cameramen, who take extra shots to supplement the cameramen that travel with the teams. By this point, "each country has all the details about what we have to do," Doganieri says. "It's kind of like a military operation."

...but the cameramen must be within 20 feet of contestants, no exceptions.

Doganieri is adamant that "The Amazing Race"'s traveling camera and sound crew is the show's secret weapon. "They don't get enough credit," she says. "They're running with a camera. They're the best at what they do." This involves staying within 20 feet of the contestants at all times -- every team of two contestants is assigned a cameraman and sound technician, who must be present with them for all plane flights, cab rides and mad roadside foot races. The show's story team follows too, to keep track of emerging plot lines and start the editing process even as the race continues to unfold.

Cameraman Alan Weeks films two contestants at Eastnor Castle, England during Season 17.

Sometimes, they have to pull last-minute location swaps in the middle of the desert.

Yup, like when a sandstorm hit Tunisia during Season 1. "We had this beautiful Pit Stop, and everyone was dancing around the campfire," Doganieri remembers. "Then we got an alert for a sandstorm, and tents starting to wobble." The crew and contestants were forced to pack up in the middle of the night, drive 50 miles to a tiny hotel, and double-bunk until morning. THAT became the episode's new, impromptu Pit Stop. Whatever pops up, there's no stopping in a race as meticulously planned as this. "When nature happens, you just have to change plans," Doganieri says.

The crew has missed flights before, putting them behind the contestants.

About 10 seasons ago, Doganieri recalls, the contestants were on their way to Italy when the production crew's flight was cancelled. The crew had no flight and only hours to traverse Europe before filming resumed. After quick work with the show's travel coordinator, they hopped a bus, rode for 11 hours and made it to the location just in time. "We've been very lucky," Doganieri says. But contestants haven't always been so charmed. "Once, a team missed a flight and got so far behind that the show had to eliminate them in the airport," she says. Another took nine hours to complete a challenge in Switzerland -- and the production schedule just didn't allow enough time for them to keep trying. "We had to go out in the field in the dark and say, 'You're done.' It was really sad."

The crew gets to test every stunt.

While the camera and sound crew travels with the contestants, the production team usually gets to each pit stop about two days before, Doganieri says. They'll do run-throughs at each location and test Roadblock challenges so they're ready to go -- this includes physically assembling desks in the world's largest IKEA, boating, biking and even bungee jumping in New Zealand.

Doganieri scouts locations for Season 23 at Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

Contestants are truly booking their own flights, in real time.

Producers will reserve tickets for the first episode, but after that contestants are on their own. You'd think producers would give them a little help -- but Doganieri says all her team does is monitor flights to anticipate which ones contestants are likely to take. After reading a clue, contestants will search on computers or run straight to the airport ticket counter, begging for the speediest route. "It's completely organic," Doganieri says. "Sometimes they'll find deals that get them there 20 minutes earlier by hopping from flight to flight. And we're just like, 'Wow.'"

Contestants are terrible at reading clues.

Doganieri says she's routinely surprised at how contestants rush through clues -- even though producers might tweak them for clarity on location after running through the challenges. "Contestants will read two lines and just start running," Doganieri says. "We're always saying to each other, 'Read your clue!'"

And the secret to winning? Be nice.

Doganieri says her favorite contestants -- and those that tend to be most successful -- take time to smile at locals, ask politely for help and show respect for the culture of the country they're racing through. This can result in game-changing advantages. "If you give just a little respect," Doganieri says, "you will get it back tenfold."

For more behind-the-scenes peeks, follow @EliseDoganieri on Twitter. "The Amazing Race 25" airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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