Lowell Taylor, the first legally blind contestant on either the Canadian or American version of The Amazing Race and ASRAB member, has been sending us his “Insider Reports” after each stage. You need to read this one!
We are third! In every episode there have been small moments that put us back. We complete most of the challenges successfully and often on first attempts. Typically, our difficulty navigating from place to place is what has set us back – but this time, things went near flawlessly. It was fun to share this episode with our friends and family. We are glad we could finally stay out of the back to reduce the anxiety for those cheering for us. Each week we have a gathering of friends and family who rotate through our home. We haven’t seen the episodes before they air, so we tend to laugh and cry right alongside our friends. Our 4 year old son is very excited each week and he will ask people to be quiet if they are talking while the show is playing. He will also do the countdown and press play on our PVR after we fast forward through the commercial breaks. It has been exciting to see his enjoyment of the show… and tonight the kids were even on TV too. This will be a great family memory for the rest of our lives.
When we landed in Toronto, I held onto Julie’s backpack and had my cane out (with the fancy roller tip to catch any curbs or ledges), and we raced through the airport. Julie and I had been hoping for something where endurance was needed. And this run was the longest yet. Julie successfully navigated us to the Taxis and we were able to get away first! This was the first time in the whole race where we had been first! It felt so good. Being in the back adds a large amount of stress. It was fun to be racing at the front with Steph and Kris and Jillian and Emmett! Both those teams have been very kind to us all along and provide support and encouragement as we are racing.
When we arrived at the BMO branch and were given our next clue from our children and Julie’s parents (Pete and Bette Greidanus) our hearts melted. It had been weeks since we had heard our children’s voices or had seen them. We were carrying pictures of them with us, but we were starting to lose the memories of their voices and their mannerisms. Seeing that video brought it all back! Instant tears. We decided to dedicate this leg of the race to them. Our sweet little boys!
We arrived to the warplane museum first before Steph and Kris but we took longer to decide who was going to do the road block. Road blocks are hard for us to choose as we don’t want to take any risk with doing a task that would be hard visually. The clue said “Who is a better back seat driver?” Well, I am a better back seat driver than a front seat driver, but I thought if there was any driving, it would be better for Julie. Also, we had thought it might be a simulator that would be hard to see. It ended up being a task where Julie got to fly a vintage war plane! I became very jealous! This would have been amazing. Also, Julie gets motion sick very easily. And now the world knows that as well! She handled the motion sickness like a champ even though she was sick the rest of the day! Julie also had to go pee since the BMO building, but didn’t have a chance to go until the end of the day! All part of the race!
The express pass drama was fun. I had heard Frankie and Amy say they were using the express pass and I was shocked – we had no idea there was an express pass as Steph and Kris had told us they didn’t get it – we are so trusting. It was funny to see Emmett switch to detective mode. It was a crazy puzzle. The drama continues!
The MEC trifecta was fun, but it wasn’t hard enough to let our fitness and endurance shine! We only had to cycle around the park, kayak around the lake, and climb a small wall. All of these things are strengths of ours, and if they would have been a lot longer we are confident that we could have caught up to teams or put more separation between us. It was super fast, and super fun. We did them all with Jillian and Emmett who we had a lot of fun with on each of those tasks. They are competitive but were very kind to us. Julie and I are certified belayers and love to climb. I had to feel a little for the holds, but climbing is one of our favorite sports. Feeling the rock and feeling for holds adds a fun element to climbing. Sight is not needed… just patience and a sense of adventure!
During the cycling section there was a highlight of my Paralympic dream. I was hoping to qualify for the Rio Paralympics this year, but the qualifier was while we were racing on the Amazing Race Canada. So, our hopes are now fully on Tokyo 2020! My two pilots are highlighted in the pictures. Warren Molnar is a paramedic / firefighter in Lethbridge and he helped me race to a Gold medal in the Edmonton ITU World Series Triathlon last September. I was then connected with Mark MacDonald (an Engineer from Calgary who used to race for Cycling Canada as a pro cyclist) and we raced at Track Nationals and received two bronze medals. We met two weeks before the race – he had never raced on a tandem, and I had never raced on the track. Our hopes are high and we will work extremely hard to compete at the elite level and see if I can continue to do some amazing races in the coming years! I am so blessed to have these selfless athletes to help me along the journey to my dreams. These men are amazing and I am so glad they were both highlighted on the show!
The art task was a lot of fun. For a long time we were the only ones there. Lots of great music and people cheering. We wanted to do the task right the first time and we paid attention to all the details. We spent more time than we needed due to our perfectionistic tendencies, but we were able to get it on our first try. If we had not double checked so many times, we could have been out sooner, and could have been 1st or 2nd on this leg!
We arrived at the pit stop within minutes of Jillian and Emmett! So close to second! Third was great – we were very happy for third. We were ready to have a break though. The pit stops are a great time to sleep, eat, and recharge after the long flights, racing, and adrenaline. During the race we aren’t sleeping or eating, so pit stops are crucial. Our hearts sunk when we were told it was a “keep on racing” leg of the journey. We finally have a top 3 finish but we have no time to enjoy it. Off we race for leg 7. Headed to Kingston! And unfortunately, no teams were eliminated. We love them, but would rather they go home than us! We have more of Canada we want to see!
And finally… I am so glad that the world is getting to see how amazing Julie is. I love her so much and now the rest of Canada can fall in love with her as well. She is kind, caring, loving, capable, strong (emotionally and physically), positive, and funny – she is also an amazing mother! I am blessed to have such an amazing spouse that I get to do life with! Julie works harder than anyone else on the race. Seeing and navigating for two. She is the hero of the show. I want to thank all you for supporting those people in your lives who need extra help! They may not be able to express their thanks, so I will do it for them. Thank you! It is a thankless job at times, but their lives are better because you are in it!
Thanks for cheering us on. Stay tuned for episode 7!