Hi y’all! I’m DAV, the sleuth/stalker/uber TAR fan that took those images of Leg 2 in London. I'm in Stornoway atm on a tour of the Scottish highlands and finally have the time to post my sightings. This is going to be a LONG read and I didn't have the patient to edit this to its best, I just want to say first of all that RFF is my go-to place if I want to get spoiled by a section or in some cases, like S23, the entirety of the season of the race though I do tend to like to be surprised more and be unspoiled whilst watching the show. On June 1, I stumbled upon the RFF board randomly at night London time after chatting with a British friend about TAR and saw that the new season kickstarted in Times Square in all places. I saw that all the team identities were spoiled. I have to say first that this seems to be one of the best casted teams yet. A lot of diversity including two Asian teams, a first! In addition, 4 F/F teams are on this season which I am personally excited about bc I tend to gravitate towards rooting for them bc most of them are naturally underdogs. Then, after all the excitement, the shock came at the realization that teams were confirmed to fly through Heathrow airport in London. Being based in London, I thought why not give it a go and hopefully I can see some of the teams if London was indeed a leg which I think is a city begging to be one since it’s been so long since they raced through London.
OK, onward to the good stuff. So I went to the airport T4 with Peach’s advice in tow, I arrived at 11 a bit late. What ended up being the first flight arrived around at the same time 10:58 exactly. I just want to explain why I did not spot the first couple of teams as they left the flight. I hardly got any sleep the night before because I was overexcited at the prospect of possibility seeing the race in action. On top of that, I overdid it on the caffeine which left me feeling frazzled and hyper at the same time. So instead of waiting at the gate patiently like I should have, I was pacing back and forth in the back and missed seeing the first 3-5 teams that left from 1130-1145 from the arrival area. Other witnesses spotted the urban biker chicks, the gay couple, and a team that looks like Keith/Whitney, the wrestlers, and I’m pretty sure surfer couple was amongst the group. At around 1155, I smartened up and saw the interracial F/F team, the food scientists, leaving the gate. I instantly recognized their identity as a team because they were wearing bright color-coordinated clothes with a cameraman and sound man trying to be discreet and all. I second guessed myself only bc I was a bit shocked at the first time I recognized a team as well as expectation that they would bolt right out of the gate. At first, they tried to be discreet but then I think they saw the sign for the Heathrow Express and prepared to run before stopping themselves and once they cleared of the crowd, they ran full blast. I ran after them before I stopping at the lift before I decided to wait to see if there were anymore teams.
I waited and waited and started to think that maybe there wasnt a second flight and that I just let the last team out of my sight. Then, whilst I was inquiring an airport employee, the mother/daughter African/American team arrived at the gate. I immediately decided to tag behind them and follow their lead in buying tickets to London Paddington station. They arrived around 1240 btw. In the train station, they were being interviewed and claimed multiple times that they were #7 and hope to catch the earlier teams and bragging a bit that other teams behind them won’t make the train. They also said they were heading to Tower Bridge. So I took the train and I know I was full-on stalking them. It was a bit awkward but gotta do it! they were hilarious and vivacious I thought - certainly a team I would root for when it’s going to be televised. They asked me at one point if there was a taxi stand at the station. I wasn’t sure but I told them most likely since it was such a huge station. I think we arrived around 5 past 1 at the station. I ran after them bc they were running. And then, I saw Isabelle/Dennis behind me running. At the taxi stand, I saw green couple (married dentists probably) already in the taxi cab. The female team left 1 min after; asian couple left 1 min after them.
I decided to take the tube instead bc google maps told me it arrives about the same as the taxi and I didn’t have money to spend for it. Once I got to the tube, announcer tells me there are delays on the lines that would get me to Tower Hill Station. Of course there were. I got to Tower bridge around 2:20. Trail was cold at that point. I was told by all sorts of people that teams were running in either direction, on the streets below the bridge, across the bridge etc etc and they were there 2 hours - 20 min before. I was running around for an hour before I got there. I didnt get the key bit of info until some art seller on the bridge begrudgingly told me that a team asked him where Tower Gardens was. He didn’t know. I didn’t know either. I asked many shopowners. They didn’t know. A cop told me that it was a small garden across Tower of London. Nothing. Not even a route marker. I wasted another 20-30 min. In that meantime, I had googled it and Victoria Tower Gardens popped up. Peach did the same as well and advised me to go check it out. So I took the tube, wasn’t expecting anything and arrived at the garden past 350 pm. Boom! a race course with the start/finish flag was starting to be taken down. And before I had time to really process what was going on, the firefighter team bolted out from the wardrobe place around 355 pm yelling Team GB!
I stumbled upon a detour because I was told that only 4 teams were there. The task was to first get into costume, then make a pancake (5 min), then run around the course whilst flipping the pancake with the pan (1 min 15 sec ). If it’s dropped, they must make it again. Firefighters were the last team to leave. I was told they were the slowest at it and took 4 tries to complete. The asian couple was second to last and left supposedly half an hour before. The surfer couple was there and left half an hour before them. There was another a team; don’t know if they were 1st or 2nd to leave, but it most likely was a couple. .... It wasnt until 620 pm when I was told that they went to Oxford afterwards to do something in the river. I immediately thought it was punting bc I was in Oxford and Cambridge 2 days ago, and went punting in Cambridge and thought ppl in Oxford probably do the same lol. So roadblock and pit stop seems to be there. I decided not to go bc by the time I got there, I was pretty sure all teams were checked in at that point. So that was my crazy day in London. I honestly felt like a racer at certain points and made me feel compelled to do it maybe in the future even though I'm a bit camera shy and am not keen on the idea of being on a show televised nationwide. But who knows? Maybe I can work in production if they'd let me after letting the cat out of the bag in this leg. lol