Published On: Wed, Jul 4th, 2018

A satisfying start to The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition

Spoiler alert: This story contains spoilers for The Amazing Race Canada Season 6.

If we needed any reminding, The Amazing Race Canada proved once again Tuesday night that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

In the kickoff to Season 6, the Heroes Edition, the teams that ended up at the top and bottom weren’t necessarily the ones you would have thought if you were letting stereotypes be your guide.

The “cheerleaders,” Leanne Larsen and Mar Lyon, finished the leg in first place. Retired air force pilots Chewy Liddle and Happy LaVerdiere were the ones who got eliminated.

And Leanne’s and Mar’s biggest competition wasn’t from someone like, say, ripped football coaches Dylan Elias and Kwame Osei but two other women, retired barrel racer Nancy Csabay and former skeleton racer Mellisa Hollingsworth.

Based on all that I’d say we’re off to a good start. The Race is at its best when it’s unpredictable.

Here’s how it all shook out.

They’re off: We began with an extended getting to know you segment before the 10 teams of heroes met host Jon Montgomery at the starting line, at Hatley Castle on the Royal Roads University campus in Colwood, British Columbia.

Their first clue took them to the ferry docks for a trip to mainland B.C. and then to Squamish. At least one team has to get lost, right? This time it was Dylan and Kwame, who mentor kids through sport in Fort McMurray, Alta., and missed the ferry.

But they had company since navy colleagues Zainab Ansari and Monica Demian got lost on the drive to Squamish.

Everyone eventually made it to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish and the top of Mount Habrich for the Road Block: “Who wants to save a beaver?”

Never fear, it wasn’t real-life, furry national symbols strung up 500 metres above the canyon floor but stuffed animals that the racers had to grab by leaping off a bouncy mesh net on a bungee cord.

Here was Chewy’s and Happy’s first bit of bad luck: they were in the lead, but Chewy failed to snag his beaver on the first try. Calgary firefighter Adam Kovacs and Brampton volunteer Akash Sidhu also needed second tries.

Nancy and Leanne caught their beavers right away and their teams were first to the next Road Block.

Beware of slivers: The next challenge was to climb an 80-foot pole at the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival and retrieve a clue at the top.

Nancy’s partner Mellisa, whom it turns out she barely knows, and Leanne’s partner and friend Mar were first to climb. It was a workout and a half, according to Mar, and Mellisa complained she had slivers in her crotch, but they both made it and were off to the next task.

No one had a harder time on the pole than Vancouver volunteer Martina Seo. “I am not fit,” she said, nervously eyeing the height. “The type of challenges I’ll be really great at will be baking or sewing.”

Can’t say we’ve seen many of those on this show. Tearfully and almost quitting at one point, Martina inched her way up for her brother Phil. “I’m so proud of my sister, she didn’t give up,” he said.

Likewise, nurse Courtney Berglind, who professed a terror of heights, pushed herself for the sake of fiancé Adam, although she made quicker work of it than Martina.

Incidentally, these two may be the kissiest pair we’ve ever seen on The Amazing Race Canada. No action goes unrewarded by an “I love you,” a smooch or a peck.

Once everyone had climbed the pole it was time to go crabbing.

Pull up a crab: The teams had to drive to Darrell Bay, paddle out to buoys that marked crab traps, pull up a cage then paddle it back to shore. If the critter was regulation size it was off to the Pit Stop. If it was too small it was back to the buoys to try again.

The self-proclaimed Alberta cowgirls were in first place, but they didn’t realize that the buoys marked traps and paddled past them, giving Leanne and Mar a chance to get ahead.

Several teams pulled up crabs that were too small and had to try again, including Chewy and Happy, Phil and Martina, and B.C. RCMP siblings Taylor and Courtney Callens.

Eventually everyone hauled in big enough crabs and the final five teams were neck and neck racing to the Pit Stop at the Britannia Mine Museum, which was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire.

The finish: Leanne and Mar reached Jon first and won a trip for two to Tokyo. “You better start liking sushi,” Mar told her partner. “The two cheerleaders just won the first leg of the Race,” noted Leanne.

Nancy and Mellisa, a former teammate of Jon’s and a fellow Olympic medallist, were right behind them, followed by cancer survivor Todd Kirk and girlfriend Anna Holtby, Dylan and Kwame, and Taylor and Courtney.

Next came Zainab and Monica, Phil and Martina, and Adam and Courtney.

Akash and friend Joseph Truong got lost on the drive but beat Chewy and Happy in the foot race to the matt.

“For the guy whose call sign is Happy you can’t even wipe the smile off your face right now,” Jon remarked.

Happy did indeed still look happy, saying it was “an honour to represent the men and women of the air force.”

With hugs all around, a couple of “I love you’s” between the friends and a Wookiee sound (where Chewy got his nickname), they headed off.

The rest of the teams continue the Race in Dawson City, Yukon, next week, where the first Express Pass comes into play.

You can watch Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CTV.

Debra Yeo is a deputy entertainment editor and a contributor to the Star’s Entertainment section. She is based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @realityeo

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A satisfying start to The Amazing Race Canada: Heroes Edition