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Tips on Running Your Own AMAZING RACE

Last night one of my favorite shows was on. The Amazing Race has so many cool elements to it, from the challeneges that are based on the country they’re visiting to the dynamics of the teams to the U-Turns, Detours and Fast Forwards.

Having done a version of The Amazing Race as part of a teen travel camp I can tell you that it’s a lot of fun. If you ever want to do your own Amazing Race program there are a number of ways you can go about it.

  • Families competing
  • Couples competing
  • College Students competing
  • Groups of teens competing
  • Around town
  • Around the county
  • Throughout the state
  • With or without U-Turns, Detours and Fast Forwards
  • Using their own vehicles
  • Using only public transportation
  • Using vans with staff drivers
  • On foot only

Once you’ve decided on who, where and how, you need to figure out what. What will the challenges be? That all depends on what you have around you. Are you in the mountains, by the sea, or located downtown? Get a team of staff together and start brainstorming.

After you have decided on the challenges, approach the companies or owners of the places you are going to go and see if they will allow you to do your challenges for no fee or a reduced fee. For example, if you are having the teams kayak across a bay ask the kayak company if you can do it for free. Offer some advertisement in your marketing materials in exchange if needed. Now, if you’re having the teams go to a local park or mall and the task is to sing a duet on a karaoke machine that you already have, you won’t need to worry about fees.

A few more things to think about:

  • To film the teams or not – if you only have a few teams a staff member can follow them with a camcorder and film them doing their tasks. If there are more than a few teams you can have staff or volunteers can be at the task areas filming each team as they come through.
  • Team T-Shirts – having each team with different colored shirts and the logo of your race is always fun.
  • Will it be a one day or multi day race?
  • Will you eliminate teams or not? In a one day race I would say no. In a multi day race I would say yes if the teams are families. If the teams are composed of kids that are at your Amazing Race camp then the answer would be, no.
  • Do you have a logo for your Amazing Race?

Make sure you have scouted out the course ahead of time. Also, give the teams a list of things they whould have if your staff is not staying with them the whole time. Maps, water, and money are a few of the things they may need to have with them.

Putting together an Amazing Race contest will take some work, but the program is something the contestants will be talking about for a very long time if done right.

Have you done an Amazing Race program? Do you have suggestions of your own? Leave a comment and tell everyone about it.


  1. I love the Amazing Race. My daughter’s girl scout troop participated in an Amazing Race that lasted a whole weekend (3 days). It was great when it started, but by the end of the weekend we were all ready for it to end. I suggest that if you have families compete you keep it to 1 or 2 days. I think that would have been perfect.

  2. Sarah, I agree with you. Any program can lose it’s luster if it goes on too long. I’m curious, did you actually eliminate teams? Were the teams girl scout troops or families?

  3. We did an amazing race type theme at camp. Instead of eliminating teams we had a treasure hunt at the end of the race. To get the map each team had to solve a puzzle/riddle. Each riddle then had to be kept and the final day they had to put all the pieces/clues together to solve one final puzzle/riddle. This worked out really well, that way each day each team had to complete the course to get the clue they would need for the final puzzle.

  4. yeah i’m making a race for a bday party. they have to follow clues to get letters and then that’s a password for something

  5. Hey, I’m organizing an amazing race with my school’s Student Association. I was wondering if anybody had some ideas for cheap, safe, and fun events for teenagers?

  6. Hi Jon,
    I am the creator of Skillastics, the product that Curt mentions in his article on “We Need More Recreation Programming Products”. I’ve created a product called Fitness Xtreme Skillastics. It was specifically designed for Middle School and High School students. As part of your Amazing Race, you could have the participants go completely around the mat before they move on to their next adventure/assignment. It gets them moving, and is fun. You can see how Skillastics is played at I wish you all the best with your event!

  7. My husband and I are traveling down to Salt Lake City Utah for our one year wedding anniversary, we want to do our own little race, does anyone have ideas of things we can do?

  8. Hi recreation guy,i would like to hold an amazing race KENYAN VERSION,how do i go about it?

  9. Hi Suzanne. Do you mean a Kenyan themed race or are you actually in Kenya? I don’t know much about Kenya but holding an Amazing Race is pretty much the same anywhere. You need to figure out what the challenges will be and where. From there give the teams locations that they need to get to. Once they have arrived they will get their challenge card that will tell them what they need to do. Once they have completed the challenge they will move on. Are there specifics you need help on?

  10. I did one on our cruise last year. Horrible. Tried to plan it in one day. Planing few months ahead of time for next one.

  11. Putting together an Amazing Race (big or small) is no easy task. Sorry to hear about yours. I cannot imagine trying to do one on a cruise. Give me some more details when you start planning it and maybe I can give you some suggestions. I have some experience with designing and running amazing races – with teenagers that is. It’s a blast if you have everything set up ahead of time, but it does require a good amount of work.

  12. I am planning a Married Couples Retreat in Jacksonville, FL. I would like to do a mini Amazing Race (half day) using the couples. It is for our church. There will be about 15-20 couples ranging in age from 30 to 65. Please help… I need ideas…

  13. Hi Jacki, setting up an Amazing Race requires you to think up challenges for the couples which in turn requires others to run those challenges, or at least be there to verify that it has been done by the couples. This means you need a lot of people to help out. This could be people from the church but will also require business owners. It also requires you to set up clue boxes around the city and hoping that other people won’t bother them. May I suggest that instead of an Amazing Race have the couples participate in limo scavenger hunt. Team up three or four couples together and give them a set of challenges and a camera. One person of each team is assigned to be the leader and tells the driver where to go. The clues lead them to different places where the teams must perform tasks and take pictures of it (get a picture of your team in a movie theater box office, in a police jail cell, standing on a kayak, doing a human pyramid on the local high school football field, gathered around the strongest person you can find in front of a local gym, etc.) When the teams return download the pictures onto a computer to make sure they have done everything. The team with the best pictures or that returned first wins. Then show the pictures during a lunch or dinner using a projector. This type of event is a lot of fun. If you want to combine it with Amazing Race then have the Amazing Race logo on the back of the challenge cards and set up a detour or two. What I like about the “photo scavenger hunt” is that you don’t need a whole lot of staff since verification of the challenges is done by the cameras.

  14. Dear Friends,
    I’m gonna organise a mini Amazing race for a inter college competition in about 10km radius about our college…it will be held for 1 and a half day….any sort of help wud rilly be appreciated….
    thank You

  15. I am setting up an amazing race for teenagers.. I am doing great I have alot of staff– many challenges– problem I am having–
    I can not figure out
    how do I get them from one challenge to the next — not everyone is from the area and I want everyone to have the same advantage but I dont want to spell everything out..

  16. Lisa, wanting everything to be even is not characteristic of the Amazing Race. On the show each couple is different. Some are older, some are not very physical and occasionally some are even handicapped (as was the case a few seasons ago where one of the contestants was an amputee). Some of the challenges are very physically demanding and others are more mental. Sometimes teams can speak a foreign language, giving them a decisive advantage in certain countries. Sometimes teams get bad cab drivers. Some times vehicles break down. In other words, advantages and disadvantages are all part of the Race. You may have a teambuilding challenge that one of the teens knows from the camp they went to last summer. Does that mean they have to take a five minute penalty to keep everything fair? Of course not. Don’t worry about who has the advantage. It will all work out.

    If you think it would be prudent give each team a map of the area or a GPS. You can allow each team to use their cell phones to make calls to friends or family for help with directions and to be able to use the internet. And finally, you can create a Speed Bump for the teams that are local (although, I can’t imagine this will go over well with them). Good luck. If you would like, email me regarding how it went with some pictures. I would love to share it with everyone.

  17. Dear Moose,
    I like your camera scavenger hunt. I am planning a half day race for a group of 10 year old Girl Scouts. Obviously a parent will drive them around town. I want to pair them up in twos. I need 4 challenges. Possibly a food shopping challenge (then donating the food to a food bank), a physical challenge at a park, a mental challenge at a different park, I really am not sure. Can you think of things? any suggestions that you have come across would be appreciated.

  18. Hi Dawn,
    I’m stumped on the food shopping challenge. At first I thought it would be neat (if you have access to a kitchen) for the girls to make a dish that could be interpreted different ways, like chili. They would find a recipe online or from a family member ahead of time that they like. Then during the race they shop for the ingredients and make the dish. At the end of the race there would be a taste test for bonus points. But, then you said you wanted to donate the food to a food bank and that threw me.

    Physical challenges with 2 girls?

        Hula hoop for a certain amount of time
        Play a round of Frisbee golf
        Go through an obstacle course
        Have one girl blindfolded and the other lead her through a designated path (trust walk)
        Have one girl blindfolded and the other girl verbally, from a specific spot, guide the blindfolded girl to a particular object
        Dizzy bat
        Interpretive dancing (get it on video)
        Juggling for a certain amount of time
        Riding a unicycle a short distance

    Those are a few ideas. For a few more ideas watch Minute to Win It.

    Mental Challenges can be any type of puzzle. Look around the internet for mental puzzles and then write it out on poster board at the proper location. IA mental challenge can also be something that plays on fears that the girls have to overcome like eating a cricket, going on a high ropes element, sticking their hands in a jar of worms to retrieve a coin, performing street theater or singing in front of a crowd or people passing by.

    I hope these ideas help you out or at least get you thinking about other challenges. Good luck and have fun.

  19. thank you for all the great ideas.
    the shopping food challenge was more like they get $10.00 and have to purchase certain items staying in budget. This way they have to look at the prices and do some math and thinking. (canned veggies, soups, spaghetti sauce, mashed potatoes, etc) – maybe even make them search for odd items like sardines in a can, oregano spice, lard, etc. hahaha! make them really search :)

    I will let you know how it works. not happening till January though, but making plans now :) I am taking in all the posts from your site.
    Thanks again.

  20. Dawn –
    I LOVE the food shopping challenge….I think that’s a great idea to get them to think and you’re doing something good in the process.

    I’m part of a group that does a lot of recreational sports and it’s time for us to think of something new to do. This would be such a fun weekend activity!


  21. Patty, thank you for the comment.

  22. I am wanting to have a week of our day camp (ages 6-14) themed with the Amazing Race. I would like to have a mutli-day race and I would not like to eliminate the teams (4 teams total). We are limited to the park, and the community center/library. I am need some help with some ideas this will be the first one that I have tried to run. Any ideas and help would be great. Thanks

  23. Kim, when I run the Amazing Race for kids at camp I don’t eliminate anyone either (the same goes for our Survivor week). Instead, the first team to finish wins. You can also have checkpoints throughout the week. Everyday, the team that checks in first (is in the lead) wins a little prize. The next day, have the teams start in order of their finish on the previous day. If you only have four teams it would be fun to have them choose a team color and put on some face paint. Just a couple of lines would do. Make sure the ages are fair. You don’t want a team of 6 year olds vs a team of 14 year olds. Create each station or area as different countries. You’ll need to come up with your own challenges as I don’t know the layout of your area or what is available for equipment. I also don’t know how many people you have for each team. Team building initiatives (like a blindfold walk), tasks, puzzles, etc. are what you want to focus on. Make sure that you have envelopes with the teams instructions at each challenge. Include some detours and road blocks as well. Also, read some of the comments here for additional ideas and help. And don’t forget to check out my summer camp site ( that has a few more ideas you can use.

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