The Amazing Race Analysis

Trying to Predict the Outcome of The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race 22: How the final four teams stack up head-to-head

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The final four teams have been set for The Amazing Race two hour finale.  Anthony and Bates are the clear favorites, having won the most first place finishes through the race (4).  In each leg, the teams have been racing each other, so we can see how they have fared compared to one another:

Head to Head chart

Anthony and Bates are obviously the favorite, but it’s close for the other three.  Here’s another view:

Head to Head

When the teams compete against one another, Anthony and Bates have won 60% of the time.  The rest of the time, it’s Max and Katie.  The all-women teams have never beat out the competition, so if they do it during the finale, they’ve broken through a competitive barrier.  Interestingly, while Max and Katie have shown the ability to win, they’ve also shown the ability to lose.  They are the second-most-likely team to win, and the most likely team to flame out before the finale.   Mona and Beth are also commonly in second place amongst this group.

I’m looking forward to the finale on Sunday!

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 10 Recap: Edinburgh, Scotland

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Another exciting episode of The Amazing Race!  I always like it when teams travel to somewhere I’ve been, and tonight the traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, which I visited in 1991.  That’s 22 years!

So naturally, the theme was all things Scottish, and it didn’t take too long for one of the team – Bates and Anthony in this case – to say, “If is isn’t Scottish, it’s CRAP!”

Viewers of The Amazing Race were treated to the following non-crappy Scottish things:  Bagpipes, Kilts, Ancient Castles, Haggis, The Poet Robert Burns, Whiskey Barrels, Hole-in-the-wall pubs, Scottish Folk Dancing, and the Narrow Streets of Edinburgh (pronounced not with a hard “g” like all of the racers did as they tried to book flights, but, as this YouTube video helps us with, more like “Edinbur-ah”.

On the importance of Flight Booking

The real difference of this leg all happened before anyone got on a plane.  Katie and Max started in first, after checking out their new cars won from the prior episode.  Instead of going straight to the airport, they went to a nearby hotel business center and researched flights.  They found the flight that got in to Edinburgh at 1pm, but then Katie found one that got in at 10:40am.  They booked it, and this smug team had every right to be smug.  They did it right.  They even added some style points by playing dumb and “acting like sheep” and waiting in line.  It worked, because no one knew which flight they were on. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 9 Beat Random Results

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Each week at the Amazing Race Analysis blog, a crew of TAR viewers make their predictions of the finish order.  This is hard to do, because there is high variance in how teams place.  The strong teams sometimes finish on the bottom, and the historically weaker teams finish on top.  One point is awarded for getting a placement correct, with a bonus point for the top and bottom finishers correctly predicted.  A quarter point is awarded for getting a team correctly placed in the top, middle, or bottom third of the finish order.  The bar for success is to beat a random number generator.    Let’s see how the crew did with the Berlin leg!

Episode 9 Scores

It was a tough week for the crew, but a great week for Random!  The Random Number Generator got a rare “sweep” and randomly selected the finish order of 1. Katie and Max 2. Joey and Meghan 3. Caroline and Jen 4. Bates and Anthony and 5. Mona and Beth.   Random has been scoring poorly to historical average this season, but this takes Random right back in line.  Such is random. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 9 Recap: Berlin, Germany

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Another exciting episode of The Amazing Race!  This week the teams travel by train from Switzerland to Berlin, Germany.  I always enjoy it when the race goes to a place I’ve visited, and I was in Berlin in December in the mid-90s, when it was under massive construction.   Phil Keoghan tells us that Berlin may be the hippest city in the world, and it definitely has a certain curated weirdness, and the TAR Producers incorporated this into the leg. I wholeheartedly approve of this effort to not just dwell on older cultural elements, but contemporary culture as well.

The other element the TAR Producers added to this leg were basic tests of America’s post-war history with Germany, preying on some of the racers’ lack of knowledge on these key events.   At the same time, other racers got it right no problem (I’m looking at you, Caroline and Jen!).   These quizzes provided an America-is-triumphant counter-balance to the Vietnam episode, which the TAR Producers apologized for.  We may have lost the Vietnam War, but we did win the Cold War, as the history quiz reminds us.

Politics aside, it was formally constructed leg, with lots of driving point to point, with a Detour and Road Block challenge.  So let’s break out the race tracker to see how your favorite team fared:

Berlin Tracker

With this view, you can see where teams slipped and where teams surged.

Max and Katie  – Best leg so far + politics!

At the beginning of the episode, Max expressed his dismay about never coming in first and usually placing toward the bottom.  Not tonight!  But first, Max made a gaffe that has probably kept him up at night.  During the Berlin trivia quiz, upon being asked, “Who said, ‘Tear down this wall,’ Max initially blurted, “John F. Kennedy!”  He quickly recovered, and stated that, indeed, it was “my man Ronald Reagan,” and we were reminded in a cut away interview that Max is a proud “cigar-chomping” Limbaugh-listening conservative.  (Although, there is debate about how well Limbaugh’s politics and Reagan’s policies actually align.)

With the quiz over, and discussions of politics complete, Max and Katie executed the rest of the leg flawlessly.  They got to the Brandenburg Gate first, did the jump off the building first, did the Detour delivering the letters to the Font Museum first (not without first making fun of the “nerds” who would care about such things), and completed the Road Block first.  Katie didn’t like the Road Block at all, and Max shrugged it off – “better you than me.”  Always keeping it classy, Max!  In any case, a well-run leg, and the kind of leg that they envisioned running when they entered the race. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Beat Random Episode 8 results

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Each week at The Amazing Race Analysis blog, we have a group of Amazing Race viewers attempt to predict the finish order.  The bar for success is to beat a random number generator.  One point is awarded for getting a placement correct, with a bonus point for first and/or last place correctly predicted.  We also have a “close counts” part of the process, with a ¼ point awarded if a team is correctly predicted to be in the top, middle, or bottom tier of the finish order.  Let’s see how our crew did!

Episode 8 scores

It was a big week for the crew in general.  I, The Analyzer, had a rare “sweep” where I predicted the finish order exactly, and with six teams, this was for big points.   However, the season leader, The Thoughtful One, continued her success by getting six big points:  She predicted both the first place finishers (Bates and Anthony) and the last place finishers (Chuck and Wynona), as well as Joey and Meghan’s struggles to come in 5th.   The Intense One also had a good week, getting the same teams as The Thoughtful One.   The Casual One only got Bates and Anthony right, and Chet got Bates and Anthony and Caroline and Jen’s 4th place finish.

In the “close counts” area, we can see which teams we had a feel for, and which ones surprised us:

Episode 8 zone

Bates and Anthony performed according to form, as well as Joey and Meghan, making their results highly predictable.   Only The Pro took a risk and didn’t place Chuck and Wynona in the bottom.  The other three teams shuffle somewhere around the middle, making them hard to peg in general.

With my big week, I’ve closed most of the gap The Thoughtful One has held most of the season.  The competition is heating up!

Episode 8 Running Total

So here are the remaining teams.  Note that three of the five remaining teams have  average finishes of 5.0 or above.

Episode 9 teams

At the same time, none of them have performed particularly poorly from the perspective of making mistakes, or showing particular weakness.  For example, when looking at Caroline and Jen – is there anything about them that makes us think that they’re doing poorly?  They had a scare in the first leg, but have been consistently staying out of trouble the whole race.  Mona and Beth similarly have been in the middle or toward the bottom, but never really in trouble, and have recently shown the ability to get in the top tier.  Finally, Joey and Meghan have had almost no variance in their placements:  6, 4, 5, 5, 6, 4, 5, 5.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of consistency.  Too bad that there are only five teams left.   Of the remaining teams, Max and Katie have been vulnerable the most, with bottom-tier finishes in 5 out of the 8 legs.  The mere fact that they feel like they’re rivals with Meghan and Joey, and not the other teams, tells us something.

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 8 Recap: Zurich, Switzerland

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Another exciting episode of The Amazing Race!  Tonight the teams raced from the warm climate of Botswana to the middle of winter in Switzerland.  They went all over Switzerland, and the episode emphasized amazing visuals and a veritable inventory of Swiss clichés:

Trains, Mountains, Snow, Clocks, Cheese, A Glockenspiel, A Shepherd on a Sled, Mountain Climbing, More Sleds, Alpine Villages, Saint Bernard dogs with little kegs, Accordions.  I’m missing a few, but the only Swiss clichés I didn’t see were “Army Knives” and banks, although they did go through Zurich, a place I’ve visited somewhat recently, and there are banks there.

It added up to a seriously beautiful episode.  The TAR Producers were blessed with amazing weather on a beautifully sunny day, depending on which mountain peak they were on at the moment.   Well done, well done.   Worth watching for the visuals alone, and a great contrast to the sights of Bora Bora at the beginning of the season.

Interesting leg construction – point-to-point racing

The construction of the leg was an unusual one.  It emphasized going from point to point to point to point to point to point via foot and via train.  There was no Detour, and the Road Block wasn’t really designed to differentiate the teams, and the showcase challenge was a famous “switchback” (a returning challenge) that involved climbing to the top of the hill and carrying 50 lb. wheels of cheese down using a sled.  Even this challenge didn’t really differentiate the teams – until the very end.

So the way the leg was constructed, it was designed to make teams run to the train station, then take a leisurely train ride, then run to the task (such as, say, pick up a Saint Bernard), then run to the train, then take a leisurely train ride, etc.   The threat of missing a train while running in the snow was always there, making teams hustle, not in the challenges, but in just getting point to point.  It looked exhausting, and it definitely favored teams who were in shape.

Add to this that they were at altitude (it showed them at 11,333 feet at one train station), this can be quite taxing on the body.   Then the “climb the hill and transport the cheese” challenge added to the intensity of the leg.

So for those who want The Amazing Race to simulate what it’s like to get to point to point when traveling, this was the leg for you!  [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 7 Beat Random Results

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Each week at The Amazing Race Analysis blog, we attempt to predict the results of the episode.  This is not easy, as each week the finish order shuffles.  One point is awarded for correctly placing a team in the finish order, with a bonus point for the top team and team that comes in last.  A quarter point is awarded for getting a team placed in the top, middle, or bottom tier.  As I said, this is hard, with the bar for success is to beat a random number generator.  Let’s see how our crew did!

Episode 7 Scores

I, the Analyzer, won the week.  I was able to predict Bates and Anthony’s first place finish (2 points), as well as the results of Katie and Max (6th) vs. Joey and Meghan (5th).  The Thoughtful One had another solid week!  She got Bates and Anthony in first and Caroline and Jen in 3rd.  The Intense One also got Bates and Anthony in first (they are the clear front runner, after all).  The Pro took a different path to her points by getting Katie and Max and Caroline and Jen correctly placed. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 7 Recap: Maun, Botswana – Part 2

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Another exciting episode of The Amazing Race!  Tonight’s episode had kind of a slow build, but culminating in something the TAR Producers probably didn’t anticipate:  Intense chases involving donkeys where teams would actually overtake each other and actually make a difference in the outcome.

This is one of those rare episodes where there is absolutely no bunching.  Us TAR fans like the “no-bunching” episodes, because teams get to either build or lose their lead from the prior leg, somehow making the outcome of the leg seem more just and less arbitrary.   And with that, I’m breaking out the “Episode Tracker” to see where teams excelled, and where they fell apart relative to the other teams:

Episode 7 Tracker

Anthony and Bates: 

The hockey-bros had about a half hour lead, and they found the first clue box without incident.  There they found they had the option for the Fast Forward.  Gone are the days of easy Fast Forwards in TAR.  In Season One, there was a Fast Forward almost every episode, with the premise that you needed to choose your Fast Forward well.  The tasks tended to be easy and scenic, but the TAR Producers have upped the ante on Fast Forwards, which have twice included asking teams to shave their heads.  Tonight, to earn the Fast Forward, the task was to stay up waterskiing in crocodile infested waters.  Not bad, TAR Producers!  I like how the boat drivers, when asked whether there were safety concerns, said, “We checked last night.”  Little comfort. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Episode 6 Beat Random Results

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Each week at The Amazing Race Analysis blog, we have a group of TAR viewers attempt to predict the finish order.  It’s no easy task, as the finish order is somewhat random.  So the bar for success is to beat a random number generator.  One point is awarded for predicting the placement of a team, with a bonus point for the first and/or last place finisher.  A quarter point is awarded if a team is correctly predicted to be in the top, middle, or bottom tier of the finish order.  Let’s see how our crew did:

Episode 6 Total

The Thoughtful One and I, The Analyzer, had the best week, but The Pro is hanging in there!  Both The Thoughtful One and I, The Analyzer, had Anthony and Bates coming in first (2 points!), and Pam and Winnie in second (1 point!).  After that, we didn’t get anyone right, but this was enough to win the week.  The Intense One also predicted Anthony and Bates’ first place finish.  Chet was able to spot Pam and Winnie in second place as well.   The Casual One focused on the middle of the pack, getting Caroline and Jen’s 5th place finish correct.  The Pro got Joey and Meghan in 4th place correct. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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The Amazing Race 22 Mid-Season Team Performance Review

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We’re about half way through Season 22 of The Amazing Race, and this affords a chance for us to see how teams have performed season to date (click for a larger image)

MidSeason Review

Two of the best teams were eliminated early.  John and Jessica and Dave and Connor took with them seven top-three finishes (out of a possible 18) after 6 legs.  When these teams left the race, they left a gaping hole at the top.

Another interesting note is that there are a lot of “middle of the pack” teams that neither shine nor are terrible either. Mona and Beth have finished no higher than 3rd, and no worse than 6th.  Joey and Meghan’s best is 4th, and worst is 6th.  Caroline and Jen flirted with being eliminated in the first episode, but since then, have ranged their finishes between 4th and 7th.  Even Chuck and Wynona, who have tended to be at the bottom of the order, have an average finish that is not too far off from these middle-of-the-pack racers.   There might be hope for them after all.

Katie and Max are the most high variance team, with 4 low finishes, and 2 high finishes.  They are never in the middle of the pack, making them serious wild cards.

Pam and Winnie have been mostly consistent, with many high finishes, but only one really bad leg.

The top team still in the race is clearly Anthony and Bates, who have had only one slip up so far, but otherwise have finished somewhat near the top.  However, with an average finish of 3.0, they’re not exactly lights out.   As a point of contrast, last season Abbie and Ryan had an average of 2.0 after 6 legs.  And there were two other teams (Natalie and Nadiya and James and Abba) who had average scores of 3.5.  Heck, even Trey and Lexi had most of this season’s racers beat with their average score of 4.3 after 6 legs.

So what I’m saying is that with Dave and Connor and John and Jessica out, this opened up the race significantly.  Pam and Winnie and Bates and Anthony are the top teams, but there is more parity that I recall ever seeing, making for it being an unpredictable and fun race to watch.

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