The Race Begins is the series premiere of The Amazing Race.
High above New York City, host Phil Keoghan begins to explain that 22 people will soon be racing around the world, without the benefit of personal computers or phones, without any of their money or cash, and that their greatest resource will be their teammates. Meanwhile in Central Park, a bus drops off the eleven teams. The first introduced is Frank & Margarita, a married couple with a baby daughter, who are currently separated.
- “It's pretty much the crossroads of our relationship.”— Frank
- “We haven't been living together for the past ten months, and I think it's going to be important for us to really connect.”— Margarita
Next off the bus is Paul & Amie, who are both recently engaged and living together.
- “I think this race could have a huge impact on our relationship.”— Amie
- “It's either going to make us so much stronger than we already are, or we're going to come back on separate planes.”— Paul
The third team introduced is Kim & Leslie, both teachers and currently single.
- “The both of us are mentally prepared to handle anything that comes along.”— Kim
- “I'm just from a small town in Texas. What concerns me the most is dying.”— Leslie
Lenny & Karyn are the fourth team off of the bus, and are currently dating, and thinking of marriage.
- “I would like the money to buy the ring that I think she deserves.”— Lenny
- “He knows I'm a very difficult person. I'm very competitive, very aggressive. He deals with me like that on a regular basis.”— Karyn
The fifth team is Dave & Margaretta, grandparents, who have been married for over forty years.
- “He tends to be a little bossy, and it's not in my nature to take orders very well.”— Margaretta
- “My wife is an amazing lady. She can do anything she sets her mind to.”— Dave
The sixth team introduced is Matt & Ana, who met and married while still in the army.
- “You know, I come from strong-minded women in my family. So I'm high-strung and bossy, but Matthew likes that.”— Ana
- “She's really smart. She's got a good head on her shoulders. She never trusts my instincts.”— Matt
The seventh team introduced is Joe & Bill, life partners for 14 years.
- “Our name is Team Guido, and Guido is our dog.”— Joe
- “You don't have to be the strongest person, you don't have to be the fastest, but you do need to be the smartest ones.”— Bill
The next team is Pat & Brenda, working moms searching for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
- “I hope we represent the women out there who love their families, and love their husbands, but don't mind being themselves.”— Brenda
- “I don't think either of our husbands were real crazy about the idea to go traipsing around the world, be we just made a pact and we decided we were just going to make sure we did it.”— Pat
Rob & Brennan are the next team introduced. They are a team of best friends and attorneys, currently working at the same firm.
- “We've both been kind of silver-spooned in out lives, grew up with good educations and a good job, but that doesn't really matter when you find yourself hungry in the streets of Bangladesh.”— Rob
The next team off of the bus is Nancy & Emily, a conservative mother and an adventurous daughter.
- “We're a lot different. I'm the get up and go, kind of on the spot, fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl.”— Emily
- “Sometimes she doesn't look before she leaps, and I think she might get us in a situation that I'm not quite ready for.”— Nancy
The final team Phil introduces is Kevin & Drew, fraternity brothers and best friends for 17 years.
- “Kevin and I have done zero for preparation.”— Drew
- “We are the ugly Americans, there's no question about it. There's potential for an international incident.”— Kevin
At the Bethesda Fountain, the eleven teams line up to begin The Amazing Race. Phil tells them that in a few minutes, they will begin a race around the world. Along the way, teams will encounter a number of tasks, some physical and some mental. He announces there are eight elimination points in the Race, and that the first will be happening soon. Once they start, teams have to work as fast as they can, because the last team to arrive at an elimination point will be out of the race. Phil shows teams their travel packet, containing all the information they need to get going along with some cash. How they use the money is up to the teams, but they will not receive anymore until the next leg of the race and need to be careful to spend it wisely. Phil instructs them that on his signal, teams can go to the nearby stairs and grab their packets, which are with their luggage, and what they do after opening it is up to them.
Phil signals the teams to go, and all eleven teams make a mad scramble to the stairs. Teams begin to open their packet, instructing them to fly to Johannesburg, South Africa. Teams can only travel on one of three flights: Alitalia 605, Swiss Air 101, and South African Air 202, and that seats are first come, first serve. Nancy & Emily have to figure out which airport in New York City they have to. Karyn asks Lenny what they are going to do when they leave Central Park. Lenny answers that they need to find a phone. Karyn says that the flights are likely out of J.F.K. or LaGuardia. Joe & Bill discuss which airport they need to go to. Joe says that it is likely not LaGuardia, but that the flights may be departing from Newark as well. Bill dismisses this, saying it is likely J.F.K., with Joe agreeing. Matt & Ana head straight for the subway to find a phone. Kevin & Drew argue over who is carrying the money. Kevin decides to take the money, only to be perplexed that they only have $90. Dave & Margaretta are the last to leave Bethesda Fountain, with Margaretta saying she feels "very slow". Pat & Brenda head toward Times Square.
Outside of Central Park, Joe & Bill hail a taxi to J.F.K. Kim & Leslie are also looking for a cab, attempting to hail one down the street, but the cab drives right by them. However, they successfully hail another cab across the busy street. Paul & Amie are at a payphone. Paul believes the flights are out of J.F.K., wanting to take the 6:25 flight on South African Air, in order to spend less money on transportation to the airport by taking the train. Amie worries that the other teams will take an earlier flight to Johannesburg and that they are the last team. The two argue as Paul uses the payphone to call J.F.K. Meanwhile, Rob & Brennan are unsuccessful at hailing a taxi. Kevin & Drew use another payphone to call one of the airports. Paul & Amie take the A Train to J.F.K. Nancy & Emily attempt to find where the three flights are, getting into an argument over which flight they want to take.
- “I don't know many mother and daughters who would have considered taking on a challenge like this.”— Nancy
Matt & Ana use one of the payphones at the subway station to find where the three flights are departing from. Ana is able to get that J.F.K. is where the flights are located. Frank & Margarita also used a payphone to find out the flights are departing from J.F.K.
- “You know, Frank and I have been separated for close to a year. Once we decided to do this, we thought it would be a good chance to really see if we can work together.”— Margarita
- “Because, you know, she has it her way or the highway or it's my way or the highway and we never get past that point.”— Frank
Frank & Margarita hail a taxi to J.F.K. In the taxi, Frank begins asking who the boss is, with Margarita answering Frank, then laughing. In another taxi, Joe & Bill discuss whether they want to go on the direct South African Air flight, or on the earlier Swiss Air flight, deciding on South African.
On the subway, Ana says she does not want to be the first eliminated, with Matt reassuring her they will win The Amazing Race.
- “He's the perfect partner. He's always upbeat and he's a lot of fun to be with and that's something that's good for a lifetime.”— Ana
At another subway station, Amie asks if they're going the right way while waiting for their train.
Joe & Bill are the first team to arrive at J.F.K., followed by Frank & Margarita, who are also taking the South African Air flight. Paul & Amie depart from the metro, with Amie hoping that they are at the right place. However, Paul realizes they should have stayed on the train, while Amie states they should have taken a cab instead. The engaged couple then leave the station.
- “We both have short fuses and we're both stubborn and I'm sure we're going to get into it before this is over.”— Paul
Joe & Bill are the first in line for South African Air, realizing the ticket counter is not open yet. Frank & Margarita arrive at the ticket counter shortly after. Joe & Bill and Frank & Margarita introduce themselves.
In their taxi, Rob & Brennan pay their cab driver, telling him that they want their change.
At J.F.K. Frank says that he cannot believe they were second, wanting to be the first in line. Frank comments on how Joe & Bill had "a stupid grin on their faces" and that they were dressed identically.
In their taxi, Kim & Leslie tell their cab driver that they want to go to Alitalia. However, their cab driver thought they wanted Swiss Air instead.
At J.F.K., Paul & Amie find that five other teams had gotten on the other flights. Amie angrily states that they will get in Johannesburg later than the other teams, but Paul says that they likely used $60 on taxi cabs to J.F.K. Amie states that she simply wants to get their first. Matt & Ana arrive shortly after at J.F.K. and run to the ticket counter. The first flight, South African Air, carrying Frank & Margarita, Joe & Bill, Lenny & Karyn, Pat & Brenda, and Rob & Brennan departs from J.F.K.
- “I think the competition is strong, through and through. We're out with the lead pack, and that's a good thing right now. It's so early, who knows what it means, but it's dangerous at first because everybody does start off together and you want to distance yourself a little bit. You don't want to get eliminated earlier, let it sort itself out later.”— Rob
- “I can't imagine how five people made it to the airport to the South African flight before we did.”— Leslie
- “I am just delighted that we are right in the middle of the pack, which for me is fine.”— Margaretta
The second flight, Swiss Air, carrying Dave & Margaretta and Kim & Leslie, departs from J.F.K.
- “The last four teams were all kind of stuck together.”— Emily
- “One of the four of us will probably be the first team eliminated, because we're the last ones leaving.”— Nancy
The third flight, Alitalia, carrying Kevin & Drew, Matt & Ana, Nancy & Emily, and Paul & Amie, departs from J.F.K.
Phil explains there are Route Markers, which are white and yellow, directing teams to where they will find their next route information.
- “Every little step counts. You could be the first person on the airplane in the first row, and that makes a difference on how quickly you get out of the airport.”— Margarita
The South African Air flight arrives at Johannesburg International Airport, where they will find a person with a flag for their next clue. Teams are now instructed to find Lanseria Airport and find Ryan Blake Air, where seats are still first come, first serve. Joe & Bill and Rob & Brennan are the first to leave Johannesburg International Airport and hail a taxi to Lanseria Airport. Frank & Margarita leave shortly after and hail a cab to Lanseria. Frank & Margarita arrive at Lanseria Airport, after passing Rob & Brennan, only to find out that Joe & Bill arrived first, aggravating Frank. Rob & Brennan arrive third at Lanseria.
At 6:00, the next morning, Frank & Margarita, Joe & Bill, and Rob & Brennan leave on the first charter flight.
Phil explains that teams need to make their way to Songwe Village for their Pit Stop, where they will wait 12 hours before starting the next leg of the race, and that they will depart in the same order they arrived. Once they arrive at Livingstone Airport in Livingstone, Zambia, teams will find a fleet of cars outside of the airport and their next clue. Teams can drive themselves or hire a driver, but drivers cannot provide them directions.
Teams find that their next clue directs them to the "smoke that thunders", referring to Victoria Falls, where they will find their next clue on the Knife's Edge bridge. Rob & Brennan decide to drive themselves, while Frank & Margarita and Joe & Bill hire a driver.
The second charter arrives in Livingstone, carrying Lenny & Karyn and Pat & Brenda. Both teams quickly depart from the airport, as the third charter arrives, carrying Dave & Margaretta and Kim & Leslie. The fourth charter soon arrives in Livingstone, carrying Kevin & Drew, Matt & Ana, Nancy & Emily, and Paul & Amie. All four teams quickly race out of Livingstone Airport, with Nancy & Emily leaving last. Amie figures out the teams are heading to Victoria Falls.
At Victoria Falls, Joe & Bill get directions to Knife's Edge from an information booth, while Frank & Margarita ask a local. Kevin & Drew, Kim & Leslie, and Dave & Margaretta arrive shortly afterward and begin searching for Knife's Edge Bridge.
Frank & Margarita are the first to find their clue on Knife's Edge Bridge, where teams can either head toward the Batoka Gorge or complete the nearby Fast Forward; they decide to go to Batoka Gorge. Kim & Leslie are second to find the clue, deciding to go to Batoka Gorge. Kevin & Drew arrive third, deciding to head for Batoka Gorge. Joe & Bill head toward the Batoka Gorge as well. Kevin & Drew argue over Drew's purchase of a guidebook of Zambia.
Phil explains that the Fast Forward pass is hidden at the Boiling Pot on the Zambezi River, and that there is only one hidden on each leg, and that the first to find it can skip all remaining tasks and go straight to the Pit Stop. Dave & Margaretta decide to go for the Fast Forward, as do Rob & Brennan. Rob & Brennan find the Fast Forward before Dave & Margaretta arrive, allowing them to go straight to the Pit Stop at Songwe Village. When Dave & Margaretta find that the Fast Forward is gone, they are disappointed.
- “I'm going so much, I haven't take time to be smart, and so hopefully the two of us will smarten each other up and slow ourselves down a little bit.”— Margaretta
- “The only thing I'm sort of feeling right now is kind of dumb.”— Dave
Phil recaps where teams are currently standing, with Rob & Brennan in first, followed by Joe & Bill, Frank & Margarita, Lenny & Karyn, Pat & Brenda, Kim & Leslie, Dave & Margaretta, Nancy & Emily, Matt & Ana, Paul & Amie, with Kevin & Drew in last. Drew gets directions to Batoka Gorge, and the two begin arguing over how long and the vague directions are. They decide to pull over again to get better directions.
Joe & Bill are the first to arrive, while Frank & Margarita open their clue, revealing it is a Detour, where they can choose Air or Land. Air involves teams taking a zip line across the gorge, and then take a 54-meter gorge swing to the bottom to get their next clue. Land involves teams taking a hike down into the gorge to find their next clue. Frank & Margarita see Joe & Bill performing the zipline task for the Air Detour. Frank decides they are going to do the Air Detour as well, and begins teasing Margarita over being scared to bungee jump.
- “We have a little baby girl, she's sixteen months old, and at the very least we need to have a working relationship to bring her up in a loving environment.”— Frank
Paul & Amie get lost on the drive to the Batoka Gorge, and the two get into an argument over Amie saying that they should have taken a road earlier.
Meanwhile, Frank completes the Air Detour, as Margarita gets nervous on the gorge swing. Both Frank and the instructor encourage her to do jump, which she finally does. Teams must now drive to Songwe Village for the first Pit Stop, where the last team to check in will be eliminated. Rob & Brennan are the first to arrive at the Pit Stop.
At Batoka Gorge, Pat & Brenda choose Air despite Pat being scared. Lenny & Karyn perform the Air Detour, as do Kim & Leslie. Dave & Margaretta choose to do Air.
Matt & Ana, Kevin & Drew, and Paul & Amie struggle for directions to Batoka Gorge.
- “I mean, locals might know certain words, like gorge, you know? But they didn't know nothing.”— Matt
Nancy & Emily arrive at Batoka Gorge, choosing to do Air. Paul & Amie arrive shortly after the mother/daughter team and also choose Air, despite Paul's protests. After zip-lining, Paul is surprised that there is a second part to the Detour, swinging into Batoka Gorge. Matt & Ana arrive at the gorge and choose to do Air. Kevin & Drew are last to arrive at the Batoka Gorge, and they choose to do Air.
At Songwe Village, there was an unaired Roadblock that teams performed involving one team member cooking an ostrich egg that both team members had to eat. Margaretta, Frank, Joe, Drew, Kim, Karyn, Emily, and Paul performed the task. Joe & Bill arrive at the Pit Stop second. Frank & Margarita arrive at the Pit Stop in third. Lenny & Karyn arrive in fourth place. Pat & Brenda arrive in fifth place. Kim & Leslie arrive in sixth.
- “I've learned that I'm capable of doing a heck of a lot more than I thought I could.”— Margaretta
Dave & Margaretta arrive at the Pit Stop in seventh place. Paul & Amie arrive in eighth place.
- “Nothing like I expected, I just hope it increases our relationship tenfold and then nothing will stop us then.”— Paul
Kevin & Drew arrive in ninth place. Nancy & Emily arrive in tenth place.
- “I'm having the best time of my life. This is the most exciting thing I have ever done.”— Nancy
After sunset, Matt & Ana are the last to arrive at the Pit Stop at Songwe Village, where Phil informs the married couple that they are eliminated from the Race.
- “Ana: We had a feeling we were going to be last, but after doing it, I'm so proud of myself and I was really happy, you know. I was so grateful just to be here.
Matt: We got memories. I mean for a long time to come and it's something that I'm glad we shared together at least.”
Teams must fly to Johannesburg, South Africa. They may only fly on one of the three approved flights, arranged according to order of arrival to Johannesburg: South African Airways, a direct flight, but can only carry five teams; Swiss Air, a connecting flight from to Zurich, Switzerland, could carry two teams; or Alitalia, a connection to Milan, Italy, which could carry four teams.
Once in Zambia, teams have to search for marked cars which they must then take to the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park where they have to find the "Knife's Edge" bridge in Victoria Falls. Teams may choose to drive themselves to the Knife's Edge or hire a driver. However, if they choose the latter, the driver may not give directions.
Teams will have to proceed to Batoka Gorge in Livingstone. The envelope where this clue comes from also contains instructions for the Fast Forward.
Choice A: Air
Teams had to take a quick trip along a zipline across the gorge and then experience a 54 meters (177 ft) gorge swing to reach the bottom before receiving their next clue.
All of the teams chose this task.
Choice B: Land
Teams had to take a long hike down the rim of the gorge to receive the next clue.
None of the teams chose this task.
Teams must drive themselves to Songwe Village for their next clue.
At Songwe Village, one team member must cook an ostrich egg which both team members were required to eat. Once finished, they may head to the Pit Stop located somewhere within the village. However, the Roadblock went unaired and it became available as a bonus feature on the DVD.
- Dave & Margaretta
- Frank & Margarita
- Joe & Bill
- Kevin & Drew
- Kim & Leslie
- Lenny & Karyn
- Nancy & Emily
- Paul & Amie
First Place • Eliminated • Last placer on a Non-Elimination Leg • Season winner • Season 2nd place • Season 3rd place • ► Used the Fast Forward
- This marks the first time The Amazing Race visits continental Africa and the countries of South Africa and Zambia.
- The Air Detour would return as a Switchback on "King of the Jungle".
- The DVD commentary for this episode was done by Kevin & Drew and Lenny & Karyn.
- The premiere had an encore airing four days later.
- Bruce Fretts at EW (09/06/2001): "Meet the Characters behind Amazing Race"
- Alex Amorim at Reality News Online (09/08/2001): "Episode 1: Let the Bickering Begin"
- Jeffrey Clinard at Reality News Online (09/09/2001): "An Early Look at Strategy"
- James Poniewozik at TIME (09/10/2001): "Short Takes: Lost, Amazing Race"
|The Amazing Race 1 Episodes|
"The Race Begins" · "Divide and Conquer" · "Home for Some" · "Colossal Showdown" · "Desert Storm" · "Whatever It Takes to Win" · "Triumph and Loss" · "Competition to the Fullest" · "The Unexpected Twist" · "To the Physical and Mental Limit" · "Fight to the Last Minute" · "Race to the Finish (Part 1)" · "Race to the Finish (Part 2)"