BY KRISTIN LARSEN
This is the story of an Amazing Race. It begins with 11 teams of two from all across Canada, includes a race littered with detours, road blocks and challenges scattered all over the globe, and ends with one lone pair winning the biggest grand prize ever awarded for a Canadian competition series. The Amazing Race Canada (TARC) bestows the victors of this incredible challenge with a $250,000 cash payout and the opportunity to fly Business Class, free for a year anywhere Air Canada flies worldwide; two Chevrolet Silverado High Country Edition Pickup Trucks; and “gas for life” courtesy of Petro-Canada.
Meet our contenders. Sukhi and Jinder Atwal, a competitive brother-sister duo with aggressive determination from Terrace, British Columbia, who are no strangers to toiling to get what they want. A definite chip off the old block, the co-working entrepreneurial siblings attribute their drive to succeed to their father’s courage and strong work ethic. Resolved to leave the farmlands of India and immigrate to “Canada, the land of opportunity,” Atwal senior made the trek across the continents with zero money in his pocket and no command of the English language. His resolve was simply to make a better life for the children he would one day have. There is no doubt that these sibling gogetters wanted to prove to themselves that they could surmount the challenges of the Amazing Race, but they also took on the task as a dedication to their dad. “This is for him, and everything that he has done for us,” they both agreed. “He has already run his own Amazing Race.”
To compete in the race was a dream that Sukhi envisioned for herself and her younger brother from the moment that The Amazing Race aired in the US in 2001. At that time, Jinder was a year too young to audition and there was the problematic “must be a resident of the United States” rule. It was not until 2013 that TARC broke into the north and the tides turned. As luck would have it, Sukhi and Jinder were deep in the jungles of Borneo for work relations, forcing them to hold off enlisting until season two.
Their story gets better. On the final day to submit video auditions, it was the twelfth hour before they realized that they had yet to put together their no longer than 3-minute plea to CTV as to why they should be among the chosen. One take and it was sent off with high hopes. Within a few short days, they got a call from production, and the brother and sister duo were on their way to realizing a dream come true. “We just knew in our hearts that we would be on this adventure one day,” said Sukhi. “We just made this video with no editing or anything.” Echoing his sister’s optimism, Jinder stated, “You know when there are times in your life where you know you are supposed to be somewhere or do something – that’s how this felt.”
Setting off from Jasper National Park, Alberta, Sukhi and Jinder along with 10 other teams, trekked across various Canadian provinces and abroad, watching as competing numbers dwindled at almost every pit stop. While talking with Preferred, the Atwals described the experience of “race brain”; how when in that fierce driving forced state, there is nothing else to think about but the challenges ahead and how to make them happen. “Something that appears so obvious to home spectators of the show, is not as simple as it may seem.” They went on to explain how after every leg of the race, that last run appears as a short burst of final energy but is rather an actual work out of its own. Teams must run nearly 5k after just having completed a series of gruelling tasks in order to get to the mat to greet TARC host Jon Montgomery and learn their fate. “You are so on because the adrenaline has you functioning at this peak performance the entire previous leg of the race,” stated Jinder, “but the second you get to your hotel room, you are ready to crash.” Giggling, the two recanted off-air hotel stories of them both passing out exhausted while eating – fork in mouth, as well as the constant ice baths needed during these breaks for their overworked bodies. Over the course of the show, viewers witnessed the numerous challenges that this energetic couple encountered including one unforgettable moment that took place in Montreal, Quebec. During the 9th leg of the race, a ‘fast forward’ was presented which only one team can take advantage of. Upon completion of this task, that team may proceed to the pit stop without delay. Little did the Atwal siblings know that this was going to be an assignment that would prompt Jinder to state, “I don’t even know how we’re going to explain this to mom and dad.” The challenge: to pose together nude for a local artist. The western Canadian siblings stole the hearts of fans and followers alike with their high energy, fun loving antics, ambitious attitudes and most of all the love, respect and support that they showed for one another regardless of struggle or pain. Despite being eliminated, when asked about working together as a brother-sister team, Jinder replied “At the end of the day, you can fight but we’re not going to hold grudges against each other, we’re family right? You always forgive your family, I feel like that.”