Amazing Race Canada winners formed friendship in Waterloo
Published Wednesday, September 14, 2016 4:32PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 14, 2016 6:47PM EDT
For the winners of the latest season of The Amazing Race Canada, their journey around the world might never have happened had it not been for a much shorter trek to skating lessons in Waterloo.
It was more than 20 years ago that Steph LeClair and Kristen McKenzie first met at the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club.
At the time, LeClair was seven years old. McKenzie – who was born in Guelph but had moved to the area – was five.
Their friendship didn’t last long, as McKenzie’s family moved away from Waterloo Region.
They reconnected later in life, after both had graduated university, and started dating.
One night, while watching the American version of The Amazing Race, they had an epiphany.
“We were like ‘Oh my goodness, we could do that,’” LeClair said Wednesday in an interview.
So the couple put together an audition video, and ended up getting a chance to compete on the fourth season of The Amazing Race Canada, which airs on CTV.
As the race wound its way across Canada and around the world – stopping in such places as the Northwest Territories, Vietnam and Cuba – LeClair and McKenzie found themselves in the thick of the competition, often finishing at or near the top of the pack.
During Tuesday’s finale, they navigated a series of challenges in Montreal, culminating in an activity testing their knowledge of everything they had seen and heard over the course of the race.
They passed that quiz, and were the first team across the finish line on Mount Royal – becoming the first women to win the Canadian edition of the race.
“We were proud to show how tough women could be,” McKenzie said.
When the show hit the air – months after it was taped – LeClair’s family hosted weekly viewing parties in Kitchener. The contestants themselves showed up a few times.
“It’s like a whole new experience, watching it with our families and getting to share it with everyone that we love,” McKenzie said.
“It’s amazing all over again.”
It was no different on Tuesday. While LeClair and McKenzie were in Toronto for a live televised after-race special, their families were watching closely – and so was their dog, who LeClair had left with her sister in Kitchener.
For winning the race, the partners got $250,000 in cash, two new Chevrolet vehicles, and two trips around the world.
They plan to put their winnings toward paying off LeClair’s law school debt and taking a year off of work to travel the world – but, as McKenzie is quick to point out, in a way that is “a little bit more relaxing” than their last trip.
With reporting by Alexandra Pinto