Meredith Hoffa
October 01, 2012 AT 09:10 AM EDT

The Amazing Race

TV Show
Reality TV
run date
Phil Keoghan
Jerry Bruckheimer
Current Status
In Season

Tonight, as season 21 of The Amazing Race got underway, we viewers at home learned a great many things. First and foremost, we learned that “abacus” is a really, really challenging word whose mere combination of letters can bring people from all walks of life to their knees. We also learned that this season, contestants will be going to 9 (nine!) countries and will cover more than 25,000 miles during the course of the race. And most importantly, we learned about a new twist being introduced to the competition this season: Any team that wins both the first and last leg of the race will double their prize money and be rewarded with two million dollars. It’s a…. rrrrrrace around the world and God, how I so badly want to be on this show!

Tonight was really all about getting familiar with the new contestants, and honestly, it all seemed daunting. Two Jameses, one Jaymes and two Robs? Plus identical twins? Plus two blond girls who aren’t twins yet appear to be?

You can get an intro to the teams on and we’ll dish on them some more in a sec, but first let’s take a minute to quickly recap the locations and tasks our teams had to tackle on leg one of their rrrrrrrace around the world.

Starting point was Pasadena, CA, and in order to get their hot little hands on the first clue and hop into their Ford Escapes (#Ford!) and head out into the race in earnest, teams had to rappel 10 stories down off a bridge. I like it! Getting the party started.

Meanwhile, Trey, the college athlete is an outrageously fast runner!

The teams had to make their way to Shanghai, and, as their Fords explained to them, only 7 teams would get on the first flight out of Los Angeles; the the remaining teams would be booked on a second flight which would land over an hour later. Race to LAX! The sad teams relegated to the later flight turned out to be Rob and Sheila (lumberjacks), Gary and Will (giant/tiny teachers), Josh and Brent (goat farmers) and Trey and Lexi (college sweethearts).

Once they landed, groups taxi-ed it to Yuanshen sports center stadium to get their next clue. It was really hot out. Ryan (divorced guy) was sweating in his day old panties.

Roadblock. “Who’s ready to get paddled?” the clue card read. I enjoyed the racers’ responses to this, especially the people who didn’t miss a beat and were like Oh me! I’m ready! The task: score one point in a game of table tennis against a 10-year-old Chinese junior champion who hates losing and, moreover, is extremely adorable. To level the playing field this tiny prodigy was even willing to forego her paddle and use increasingly absurd and clumsy household items like a clipboard, a saucepan, a tambourine and, eventually, an Amazing Race clue card. The front-runners after this task were Abbie the divorcee, James the rocker and James the Chippendale. Elsewhere, Monster truckers Kelley and Rob were still roaming China trying to find the location.

NEXT: Going tubing, but not in a fun way on a lake during the summer

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