peach & I sold our souls for the above video and info
.....thought you all might enjoy it.
Newspaper scan thanks to Michael click clickSPOILER ALERT!
The Amazing Race investigation
A reporter stumbled into the path of a hit reality show. Then, the show's fans found her
Jul 19, 2008 04:30 AM Robyn Doolittle
There was something about the way the camera crews were just waiting around that told me they weren't from the local Moscow news station.
And then there was the good-looking guy in the tan leather jacket talking in front of the camera. He seemed to be speaking English unlike the Russian-speaking cameramen. And why was there a second crew 50 metres away, near a grand archway leading into the All-Russia Exhibition Centre?
Then it hit me.
"Guys!" I giddily turned to the seven friends I was travelling with, "I think this is The Amazing Race."
Within an hour or so the leather jacket guy host Phil Keoghan and a man dressed up in Soviet garb stationed themselves in front of a giant Lenin statue. Before long, a pair of haggard-looking twentysomethings, weighed down by backpacks, came barrelling through the archway. They were first. Hugs all round. And we were documenting it all.
A frantic producer woman sprinted over. "No cameras! No filming!"
A second was more diplomatic. He used guilt. "From the bottom of my heart, I know I can't delete your pictures or anything, but please, keep what you've seen quiet. Millions of people look forward to this every year."
We said we weren't there for trouble, we were just fans of the show. He seemed relieved and I was content to drop it.
That is, until The Amazing Race found me.
On July 2, several months after my trip, an email arrived with the subject line: Amazing Race. I opened it.
"Hi Robyn! My name is Peach and I am with an Internet group that tracks The Amazing Race. We stumbled across your friend Vanessa's picture of the race and Phil! In Moscow and are thrilled to bits ... perhaps you could answer some questions for me?"
Whaaaa? I called Vanessa. She'd posted her Russia pics on a Picasa Web album. Were those searchable? We laughed. As a reporter, I spend most of my day stalking people on the Internet for stories, and here, I'd been e-hunted.
They called themselves The Amazing Race detectives. Since 2004, race cycle 5, the TAR detectives about 15 in total have mapped out, blow-by-blow, pretty much every stop of the race months before the show airs.
They search web albums and blogs for people like myself, scrutinize promo clips, track down contestants and map out possible flight patterns. Among them: a space engineer, a former travel industry professional who "can pull up flight information at the drop of a hat" and a WWII vet.
One of the forum members is married to a police detective.
"One of the nicest compliments we ever got was when the husband of one of our posters (said) he should give us some of his cold cases for us to work on during the office season," says Peach.
She says her real name is Rose, she works in medicine, hails from Georgia and dreams of being a site scout for the show.
As leads develop, the detectives frantically follow the trail sometimes until dawn. Pictures. Car types. Licence plates. Local geography and architecture. It's all dissected to the most minute detail. To date, almost all of cycle 13 is mapped out.
The original TAR detective, Puddin, from Pennsylvania, who is "old enough to have teenagers," explained how she found us:
As usual, Puddin was scanning online photo albums, including Picasa. Vanessa captioned one picture "Amazing Race." It showed the back of the contestants and the Soviet soldier. Host Keoghan was hidden. Puddin couldn't find Vanessa online, but she noticed one photo captioned "Robyn and Oleg" (my boyfriend). "The (Ryerson) sweatshirts gave it away," Puddin says. "We googled Robyn, Ryerson University and bingo!" A story I'd written on buying a new condo popped up, with a picture of Oleg and me.
"I compared your photo with Vanessa's and thought for sure I had a match," Puddin says.
I was impressed, but after poking around on the site, I realized this Sherlock Holmes sleuthing was nothing. Not only had they found us, but they were able to deduce what time and day we were there, largely by puddles on the ground.
They were able to discover the location of the finale mat, or finish line, for this upcoming season.
But as true fans, they chose not to reveal the information on their website.
"We were all horrified at the thought that the racers might be besieged by the media, or that the winner might be known before the show even wrapped," says Peach. "It was more important to us at that point to protect the finale of the show than it was to be the first (fan site) to share the news ... We are all in this because we adore the race and the friends and excitement."