Alana and Mel, Reunited Sisters
Can Adelaide sisters Mel and Alana put their differences aside to run a successful race together?
When Mel ran away from home at the age of 15, she effectively ended her relationship with younger sister Alana.
It’s only been in recent years that the family has started to heal, so Alana decided to fast-track re-connecting with her big sister
by applying to come on the race. “I knew Mel would be into it and it was my idea to enter so that we could share something incredible and start forming a proper adult sister relationship,” says Alana.
Mel says, “I’ve always been the rebel and Alana’s always been the nerd. And nothing’s changed as we’ve gotten older.”
Alana, 25, has been married to her childhood sweetheart David for three years and works in finance administration. She loves
antiques and restoration work on her house. “I’m a home body and love to read books and learn, and Mel’s very anti that.”
Mel, 28, loves being the centre of attention. Her interests extend to music, movies and sport. She admits her younger sibling “brings out the worst in me”.
Alana adds: “Even when we were little she’d say, ‘Alana you’re my sister and I have to love you but I don’t have to like you.’”
As a practice run, the sisters recently took their first holiday together since they were young kids - and it almost
ended in disaster. “We went to Hawaii and Mel was over it and ready to kill me by the end. And we weren’t even staying in
the same room,” says Alana.
Alana and Mel would both love to travel to Latvia, which is the birthplace of their late grandmother. Alana uses her Latvian heritage to explain her pale skin, but Mel interjects, “No you’re white because you’re Albino and that’s a different country.”
Alana is bemused that her sister thinks albino is a country. “I gave her a map of the world and she said, ‘That’s not it, Alana, that’s not the entire world. Where is the rest of it?” So it seems wise that as a team they’ve decided to defer anything physical to Mel and “anything that we know is going to be smart or nerdy is definitely going to be Alana,” says Mel.Anne-Marie and Tracy, Workmates
Best friends Tracy and Anne-Marie are possibly the show’s biggest fans. Will all those hours glued to the TV help them now it’s their turn to run the race?
Tracy and Anne-Marie met at work at Big W in Perth 12 years ago and have been firm friends ever since. Anne-Marie, 53, says “We just have the best time together. We’re
always laughing and can laugh at anything. We’ve never had a bad experience together.”
Anne-Marie and Tracy say they will draw on their experience as mums to help them through the race. Tracy, 46, explains: “I think we communicate well and being parents, you’ve had everything your kids can throw at you so you can just work through anything.” In fact their kids were foremost in their minds when they submitted their application. “Normally it’s all about our families. You leave yourself until the very last. You always get things for them instead. This is our time,” says Tracy.
Tracy and husband Bruce are proud parents to two children, while Anne-Marie has three kids with husband Joe. “I think with our families and the people at work, I’m sure there’s a part of them that thinks we can’t do this. We want to prove them wrong,” says Anne-Marie. They may be the oldest team on the race, but Tracy and Anne-Marie are definitely young at heart. Tracy, 46, says: “We were really jealous when the American show came to Perth and we couldn’t be in it. We’ve watched every episode of the US show. At work we run a sweepstake and we’re just insane about the program.”
These friends are adamant they will stay positive and won’t let nerves, stress or fear of a challenge get to them on the race either. They say their only fear will be wearing bathers on national television. Other than having fun, Tracy and Anne-Marie’s only other objective on the race is to survive the first elimination. “We don’t want to bow out first and then have to face whoever draws us out of the sweepstake at work,” says Anne-Marie.
Adds Tracy: “I think when you compare us to some of the other teams it’s definitely a case of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’. We’re tortoises. But guess what? The tortoise won the race!”Anastasia and Chris, Couple
They’re young, adventurous and ready to take their relationship to the next level. Will the race make or break the future of this loved-up couple?
With a big Greek wedding on the cards for Sydney lovebirds Chris and Anastasia, they’re using the race as a test of whether their relationship will last the distance. “We don’t see it as just running a race. Nothing will push our relationship like The Amazing Race Australia,” says Anastasia. After dating for nearly three years, Anastasia is ready for a proposal and Chris hasn’t ruled out an engagement at the end of the race.
This couple admit they don’t always see eye-to-eye and predict some stormy moments as they navigate their way towards the pit stops – and a diamond ring. “We have a relationship that’s like four seasons in one day. It’s up and down very quickly,” admits Chris, 23. “We both have very strong opinions and at times those opinions clash,” says Anastasia, 21. “I’ve told Chris I’d like to give my opinion but the final call will be his.” But differing opinions aside, they believe they have all the right ingredients to run a competitive race.
“I think we are quick decision makers and problem solvers. We might clash in decisions, but it’s just going to be a case of who can scream louder,” insists Chris. “We’re both young and smart and strong enough. We don’t have many weaknesses.” Anastasia believes her supportive nature brings out the best in them, even if that means she is trying constantly to keep her man happy.
“I find that she tries extra hard to impress me,” says Chris. “I can see that. I love her and I’m proud of her so she doesn’t need to impress me. But I won’t hold her back on this race as that could be an advantage. If she wants to impress me then go ahead.” Anastasia put her studies in nutrition on hold to compete in the race, while Chris completed his Masters in Engineering Science last year.
With several overseas holidays together under their belt, they have packing down to an art form and Anastasia insists there won’t be a lot of make-up in her backpack. “Even though I’m a girly girl I don’t need to spend hours doing my hair and make-up so I don’t think I’ll be too fussed about it,” she says before Chris chips in with, “You won’t be fussed at all about it. We have a race to win!”
Dave and Kelly, Married Bikers
Can Kelly keep husband Dave’s temper in check long enough for them to make it to the finish line?
Keen biker and fisherman Dave admits he has very little patience and doesn’t suffer fools.
“We’re not here to make friends. I’ve never played a sport to lose. Haven’t even played cards to lose. I don’t do anything to lose. We’re going to kick some arse,” says the 52-year-old Dave from Geraldton, WA.
His wife of 11 years, 37-year-old Kelly, admits some people don’t understand their relationship. “Some people think we’ve got an arranged marriage. They just can’t believe we’re still together because we’re just so opposite in many ways,” she explains.
“I spend all my time fishing with my mates,” says Dave. “While Kel spends all her time shopping with her friends."
“The biggest problem I think we’re going to have on the race is we’re not going to get to spend any time apart.” But Kelly assures, “When we are together we make it work.” She credits her husband with igniting her love of travel and adventure.
“I didn’t get a passport until we got together. We’ve travelled ever since,” says Kelly. They were married in Fiji and celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in the Cook Islands. Dave, who has two children from a previous relationship and four grandchildren, is putting all his faith in Kelly being the more observant member of their team.
“Her rationality is better than mine. She takes more notice of stuff around her than I do,” he says. He also has a warning for his wife, who confesses she doesn’t ever try anything “hardcore”.
“I’m going to push Kelly to do stuff that she’s never ever dreamed of doing,” he says. “You don’t know what the challenges are going to be or where you’re going to be going so I don’t think there is anyway to prepare yourself for it. All we can do is pay as much attention as possible and maybe trip a couple of people up along the way.”
Jeff and Luke, Father/Son
They’ve endured a rocky relationship, so can father and son duo Jeff and Luke depend on each other now?
With four children and three grandchildren, 60-year-old Jeff is the oldest competitor on the race, but don’t expect him to be a pushover. “We’re quite physical,” he says. “Even though there’s a 28 year age difference I won’t be deferring everything physical to him.”
Luke, 32, agreed to his dad’s suggestion to join the race because he saw it as a great opportunity to spend more time together. “My family are important to me but we aren’t as close as we used to be,” says Luke. Luke’s parents split up when he was 15 and father and son lost contact for many years afterwards.
“The typical father-son relationship ended at that point. I was angry. He wasn’t there for me when I needed him,” says Luke.
Jeff adds: “There were certainly a lot of trust issues. We had a rocky few years in terms of relating, and not really relating at all. I made a lot of mistakes and I really want to make it up to him.” It’s only in recent years that Jeff and Luke have begun to repair their relationship.
“Now we have a situation where you’ve got two people who’ve actively chosen to have a relationship,” says Luke. “But as for the level of trust required on this race – our relationship has never gone to that level before.”
Luke is the middle of three kids for Jeff, who also has a 6-year-old stepson with partner Katherine. Luke himself is a dad to six-year-old Tyler - his proudest achievement.
Jeff has lived and worked overseas in corporate consulting in Singapore, Greece, India and Thailand. Luke grew up in Melbourne and now runs his own landscaping business on the Gold Coast.
Will problems arise with their very different approaches to the race?
“I don’t just dive into things. I’m quite calculated and precise about how I do things,” says Luke.
But Jeff admits his outlook is the opposite. “My style is probably a bit more excitable. I’m a doer so I’m learning while I’m doing,” he says.
Joey and Richard, Married Entrepreneurs
They’re fit, focused and super competitive. Will Joey and Richard’s ruthless determination keep them on track to the final pit stop? Or will this husband and wife just rub the other teams up the wrong way?
Sydney entrepreneurs Joey and Richard believe they have the physical and mental strength to make it to the top three. They’ve already planned their “T3” strategy, which includes T-shirts emblazoned with encouraging slogans such as “Focus, Believe, Achieve” and “Crush It!”.
Devotees of motivational speakers such as Anthony Robbins, they’re hoping to intimidate their competitors. Together for 11 years and married for four, their competitive streak even extends to a rivalry between themselves. “Sometimes we’ll just jump on the treadmill next to each other to race,” says Joey.
Richard adds: “Coming from a sport and business background makes us competitive. It’s an advantage for us, to work together as a couple on a lot of different projects. “We are very hard on ourselves and mentally tough. We believe action cures fear.”
The couple met when Richard, 29, started training former PE teacher Joey’s parents. He then started training Joey, 30, and sparks flew in between sprints and squats. Nowadays they operate their own fitness website and conduct motivational seminars for major corporations.
Big believers in healthy eating as well as training, the couple released the book, Please Mum, Don’t Supersize Me, to rave reviews a few years ago. “It’s my proudest achievement,” says Joey. “It felt as though we reached a lot of people with the healthy eating message. I’m the kind of person who’s fulfilled if I feel like I’m helping people.”
That caring spirit may not extend to their rivals in the race, with the couple admitting they’re not in it to make friends. “I don’t have a huge amount of friends. And I don’t expect that to change during the race. Ultimately it’s us versus the other 10 teams. And we’re here to win no matter what,” says Richard.
While they have travelled extensively – Richard worked on an international cruise ship, and they have holidayed in Europe and the US together – they admit they’re not always great on details. Joey says: “When it comes to geography and stuff, we don’t really know where places are. We like to guess.”
Matt and Tom, Farmers
Farmers Matt and Tom are used to the serenity of the outback. So how will they fare in the hustle and bustle of the race?
Mates Tom and Matt know they’ll have the upper hand when it comes to physical challenges, but they might struggle when it comes to geography.
Matt has never left Australia, rarely ventures away from his outback property and only visited Sydney and Melbourne for the first time in the lead up to the race.
“There’s a lot of buildings isn’t there? It makes it hard getting around. I actually thought Melbourne was more where Canberra is,” he admits.
But Tom is quick to point out they’re handy with directions.
“Give us a map and we’re fine. We’re pretty good at getting from A to B,” he says.
Both 26, they met seven years ago while shearing at the Muttaburra Sheep Show, in central western Queensland.
Tom grew up on the historic Newcastle Waters Station in the Northern Territory and currently works on a cattle station on the WA/NT border. Matt lives and works on a sheep and cattle station outside Birdsville in outback Queensland. The nearest supermarket is 600 kilometres away.
Despite the distance, these mates catch up whenever they can at country races and rodeos.
“I know all about covering big distances. The property I live on is twice the size of Holland,” says Matt.
As for the race, Matt says, “I’m keen to see a bit of the world and have a laugh.”
Tom on the other hand is the competitive half of the partnership. “I think people will see us as country bumpkins. But I’m planning to be there at the end. And I think we’ve got the right combination of strength and smarts to win.”
Living away from city life has saved them both a lot of stress and they see that as an advantage on the race.
Matt says, “I don’t usually get stressed really. If you throw stuff at me, I’ll just get on with it.”
Both farmers agree though that this race is going to be a big test.
“I just hope we don’t get Delhi belly on the first day and can’t find a dunny,” says Tom.
And as for Matt’s biggest fear on the race?
“He’s paranoid that people will think we’re the Brokeback couple,” laughs Tom.
Mo and Mos, Best Mates
Melbourne mates Mo and Mos share a strong friendship and an Islamic faith. Will their background create a few extra obstacles on the race?
Australian born and bred, Mo (Mohammed) and Mos (Mostafa) both have Egyptian parents and a similar “cuddly” build, meaning they’re often mistaken for brothers.
“People always point out that we look really similar. Of course the big debate is ‘Who’s better looking?’ I think we’ll have to sort that out on the race,” says Mo.
Mos, 25, says being a young Muslim man could pose a few added challenges not faced by other teams on the race.
“People might think there’s something suspicious about two young Arab Muslim men running around madly with backpacks on,” adds Mo, 26. “I would say that 70 per cent of the time I get stopped for random security checks in airports.”
Aside from losing time to security screening, Mo and Mos’ faith means they must also stop to pray five times a day.
“Who knows? Just taking five minutes to stop and pray might just help us focus. And that could be just what we need to win the race,” says Mos.
The boys don’t necessarily see their weight as a disadvantage.
Mo says: “There have been people in the race who have been fatter than us. I don’t think it’s a barrier for us to win. The other teams with their six packs might be looking at us and going,
‘Don’t worry about those guys,’ which works in our favour.”
Mo and Mos met three years ago at a leadership course. They cite their experience of different cultures as one of their greatest strengths.
As a multicultural youth worker for the past five years, Mo says, “That’s given me access to people from lots of different backgrounds so I know about many cultures around the world.”
Mos has similar experience through his volunteer work at RISE, a group which assists refugees and asylum seekers. He has also completed a degree in Sociology and a Masters in Sports Business.
Mo is also actively involved in the Islamic Council of Victoria, while Mos has completed a degree in Sociology and a Masters in Sports Business.
While they have plenty in common, their approach to the race could differ.
Mo says, “I’m far more driven. Honestly, the thing I’m most scared about with Mos is that we’re at the start line and Grant says, ‘Go’ and I’m going to run and Mos will just start walking. He’ll be like, ‘Yeah, there’s no rush.’ He’s a very relaxed guy. Whereas I’ll be stressed about not knowing what’s happening next.”
Nathan and Tyler, "Surfers"
Free-spirited mates with model looks, Tyler and Nathan share a love of surfing, art and beautiful women. But can they strike the right pose on the race?
Nathan and Tyler, both 25, grew up together on the Gold Coast and have been friends for 10 years.
Nathan says of their friendship: “We were always hanging out on the Gold Coast. Then we both moved to Bondi and we’ve spent a bunch of time together in California as well. We surfed over there and also did a fair bit of partying in Hollywood. And we’ve surfed heaps in Bali together.”
Both boys fund their carefree lifestyle with a mix of modelling, t-shirt design, nannying and the odd labouring job.
Tyler says, “I’m a bit of a hobo and a really big flake. That’s where I’m different to Nathan. But we’re both open-minded, laidback and up for anything.”
Tyler proved that when he gained notoriety a few years ago for infamous liaisons with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. He was working in the US at the time for his clothing label Rockstars and Angels and says at least some of that experience helped prepare him for the race.
“I was living on next to nothing and had to be really careful with my budget, figuring out the cheapest way to live. I had a lot of fun though.”
Tyler’s single these days, while Nathan’s been dating former Miss Australia and MTV personality Erin McNaught for more than a year.
Nathan and Tyler’s strategy is already firmly in place. Tyler’s “photographic memory for directions” means he’ll be in charge of navigation on the race while Nathan will tackle more of the mental challenges.
“We’re both as fit as each other. But I’ll take on the more brainier challenges, Not saying he couldn’t do them. I’ve just got a bit more patience,” says Nathan.
And when things get stressful, they have the perfect way to stay calm.
Tyler explains: “I meditate to cope with stress. Nathan and I meditate together for about 20 minutes a day. On the race we could do it on a plane, in the car, anywhere. It takes so much stress away, it makes your mind relax and cuts a lot of things out.”
Nathan adds, “I’m sure there will be new stress levels on the show. But it’s exciting stress!”
Renae and Sam, Models/Boxers
They’ve got the looks and they won’t be afraid to use it to their advantage. But do these glamazons have the brains to match?
They might look sweet enough, but friends Sam and Renae are hoping that looks can be deceiving. “We kind of want to play the dumb blonde thing up a bit so people don’t get threatened,” says Renae, 23. “We’re probably going to be the last people they worry about.”
“People will look at us and go, ‘They’re these blonde models and they don’t know anything,’ but they don’t know our background, how intelligent we are and our levels of fitness as well,” says 22-year-old Sam.
Sam and Renae both model part-time, while Sam’s also a VIP host at Perth’s Burswood Casino. Renae works in hospitality and does maintenance work for a ute hire company and is capable of fixing a truck – hardly typical of someone who was runner-up in Miss Universe Australia 2010.
“I’m definitely the tomboy in this partnership,” admits Renae.
They’ve been best friends since they met in a bar four years ago, and like to train and hang out at the beach together.
“Sam is more serious and I’m very laid back. But we complement each other,” says Renae.
While Renae only rates her knowledge of geography a one out of 10, she is quick to point out she knows “everywhere in Australia though, just nowhere outside of Australia”.
Sam brings her own unique experiences to the race as a former flight attendant, so she’s more than prepared for the long flights ahead.
But these determined young women know they need to have a serious game plan if they’re in with a chance to win the race. Sam says they’ve already decided that Renae will be responsible for driving, navigating and strength challenges, while Sam is the team leader and best with challenges involving eating or heights.
The girls have also discussed how they’ll handle the stress the race could place on their friendship.
“We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re not going to fight,” says Renae. “Everyone cracks under pressure but they don’t always mean what they say.”
Liberty and Ryot, Siblings
Siblings Liberty and Ryot don’t spend a lot of time together outside of family gatherings, so how will they fare when it’s just the two of them?
Outgoing brother and sister team Ryot and Liberty admit they’re a product of their upbringing.
Liberty, 27, says, “There’s four kids in our family and when we were growing up our mum and dad always encouraged plenty of debate, opinions and laughs around the dinner table. We’re all outspoken.”
“I’d say everyone in our family is pretty driven and intelligent. We all did well at school,” Liberty says.
Ryot, 23, adds, “When she says ‘our family’, I’m excluded from that. I’m definitely the black sheep.” Ryot gave up a promising finance career to become a professional poker player and admits the decision didn’t go down well with his family.
“Yes it’s risky, but I’m a risk taker. I used to be a broker. I’ve been playing poker for four years as a hobby and then I started taking it really seriously. When I got more experience and more confidence, I quit my job because I can make more money playing online poker. In a single day, I play up to 300 tournaments.”
Liberty spends her days at her “dream job”, working in marketing for an airline. While she doesn’t share the same level of cunning as her brother, she does display a competitive side when it comes to one thing – breeding show dogs.
“I’m the fifth generation in my family to breed beagles, but I’m the only one of my siblings who has an interest in it. I have dogs in five countries - Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines, Germany and Denmark.”
“And yes that world is sometimes like what you see in Best In Show. Actually, that competitiveness has probably helped prepare me for the race.”
Ryot too believes he’s made of the right stuff to win the race. “I do better under stressful situations. In new situations, adrenaline kicks in and I can focus much better. But I’ll just have to try harder not to be so arrogant and stubborn.”
Liberty says her biggest obstacle on the race could be her inability to drive a manual car. “But ultimately this is a great opportunity for Ryot and I to have an incredible experience. I am looking forward to this being our time together, the special thing we’ll look back on later in life and say, ‘We did it!’.”