There’s always a chance a new season of “The Amazing Race Canada” could end in a dead heat.
Good thing one of the teams competing this summer are undertakers.
Canada’s most-watched homegrown summer series returns for a fifth season on July 4 on CTV. The network has just announced the 10 teams from all across Canada who will be competing for the grand prize, which includes $250,000, two compact SUVs, and a trip around the world for two.
Among them are Deb and Aaron Baker, a mother and son team from the B.C. border town of Grand Forks. The two funeral directors refer to each other as “last responders.” They should be easy to spot during the competition: both plan to wear their dark blue funeral attire throughout the entire race.
“Yes, we are running in our suits,” says Deb, 54, who insists she has a fun job. “People come in grieving and for some reason I get them laughing.”
Deb is the second oldest contestant this summer, as teams get younger and stronger.
“We try to make the race harder every year,” says executive producer John Brunton, who feels the new cast truly represents all of Canada. “They’re going to remind viewers of themselves, or of their sons or daughters, older sisters or whoever. Relatability is the key.”
Among the other teams:
Kenneth McAlpine, 25, and Ryan LaChapelle, 25, best friends from Collingwood, Ont., who call themselves Team Give’r. “That’s us,” says Kenneth. “We give’r all we got, full commitment, 100 per cent.” These two well-travelled surfer dudes will be easy to spot in their Hawaiian shirts. Think of them as mellower, sober Trailer Park Boys.
Karen Richards, 31, and Bert Richards, 36, a married couple from Edmonton, Alta., tried to get on “Family Feud” — they used the game show theme as their wedding song! — until they found out Canadians weren’t eligible. “The Amazing Race Canada” is probably a better fit anyway, with Bert in the delivery business. He’ll drive and Karen will give forewarning “three streets before.”
Sam Lambert, 25, and Paul Mitskopoulos, 24, a dating couple from Toronto. “We’ve both always been huge fans of the show, starting with the American version, watching every week with our families,” says Paul, who met Sam on a dating app almost two years ago. “It’s been love ever since.”
Andrea Croxen, 29, and Ebonie Roberge, 29, friends and business partners from Montreal, are ex-models who met when they were 16 at a bridal fashion show. “This is really a year of taking risks for us,” says Ebonie. The pair just launched their own business running fitness retreats in Costa Rica last year.
Korey Sam, 31, and Ivana Krunic, 30, friends and co-workers from Toronto, both work as personal trainers. While they’ve dated friends they’ve never dated each other. “Which is good,” says Ivana, who was born in Bosnia and lived in Germany as a child. “If Korey looks at another girl, I’m not going to be, ‘Later.’ I’ll be, ‘She’s cute.’ It’s platonic but it’s great. There’s no tension.”
Megan Burden, 23, and Courtney Roberts, 21, small town cousins with no filter from St. Lunaire-Griquet and Corner Brook, Nfld. It’s win the “Amazing Race” or bust for Megan, who, when asked what she’d do with the grand prize money, answers without hesitation: “I’m probably going to buy fake boobs. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was 10.”
Zed Dhalla, 27, and Shabbir Dhalla, 57, a father and son team from Vancouver. Zed’s the big “Race” fan, but Shabbir wanted to compete “because I’ve only got a few more years left on these legs.” Dad is also a stage 3 cancer survivor. “It was very much a blessing in disguise,” says Shabbir. “I look at life completely differently now.”
Adam Cavaleri, 29, and Andrea Cavaleri, 28, a brother and sister team from Montreal. “I applied three years ago with my best friend,” says graphic designer Andrea. They didn’t get picked and the friend wasn’t available this year so her bartender brother stepped up.
Dan Kipnis, 23, and Riya Malik, 23, friends and YouTube stars from Richmond Hill, Ont. The two have been best friends since Dan offered to ride a ski lift with new girl Riya on a Grade 4 class trip. Their “Dan & Riya” YouTube channel deals with pop culture and millennial life, with one video recently passing the 14 million views mark.
— Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated the wrong hometown for the Dhalla team, incorrect information about a business owned by Andrea Croxen and Ebonie Roberge, and misattributed a quote spoken by Megan Burden.