The Amazing Race Canada: Behind the scenes in Stratford

I was exhausted by the end of Tuesday’s Leg of The Amazing Race Canada in Stratford, Ont. And I was just watching it being filmed.

Earlier this year, Bell Media graciously provided me—along with the Toronto Star‘s Debra Yeo and social media influencers Jennifer Ettinger and Evelyn Avila—with the opportunity of a lifetime: follow the filming of a Leg of The Amazing Race Canada to see how it all really works. What followed was a jam-packed day of observing this season’s teams scrambling around the Southern Ontario town participating in challenges as unique to the area as they are in Canada.

Visiting Stratford? Make sure this place is on your to-do list.

Being sequestered in a production van for an hour and stationed next to a park full of children playing perhaps wasn’t the best optics on that May day but it was necessary. It was imperative, we were told upon arriving from Toronto, that we could not be seen by any of the Racers. The producers didn’t want any kind of inkling about where they were supposed to go into town. If we’d been situated in front of the Festival Theatre, it was explained, the Racers might know they were supposed to go there. A major no-no and Race ruiner. Of course, reading the Route Info is the only guide for the Racers, not a gaggle of journalists looking pastily conspicuous.

The Amazing Race Canada producers, camera people and anyone else on the ground during production all use a specialized messaging system on their phones to communicate silently. That’s how we knew the Racers were participating in their initial challenge of the Leg and the first few pairs were departing for downtown Stratford. We were also informed many Racers were tired—they’d flown in from Jakarta the day before—and some had made a mistake upon landing in Toronto and drove east rather than west to Stratford. The devil is in the details on The Amazing Race Canada.

We made two new slobbery friends on The Amazing Race Canada.

I’d always assumed that a pair of Amazing Racers and the camera people chasing them would stick out like sore thumbs and draw attention to themselves. That wasn’t the case in Stratford. Sure, a few people gave side-eye to a quartet of sweaty folks running right by but for the most part, no one paid attention.

My adrenaline spiked trying to stay out of the way while watching pairs paddle the Avon River and duel in the Festival Theatre; I can only imagine what the Racers were feeling. After all, this was real for them. Siblings Taylor and Courtney were able to keep it cool while we observed them, as were Courtney and Adam. Anxiety exuded from Martina and Phil during the Detour in Rhéo Thompson Candies while we munched on sweet samples. (I bought a whack of treats from the family-run business and will return.) And it was the place a pair of playful and inquisitive bulldogs decided to climb into our production vehicle.

I’ll be able to reveal more details in Tuesday’s review of The Amazing Race Canada, but I had a heck of a great time watching it roll out. And it gave me great insight into the well-run production that goes into summer’s biggest TV show.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. MT on CTV.