Ajax mine was again in the spotlight this week — capturing the attention of about two-million Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
This time, though, the dormant mine site was not the focus of an application or protesters; it was featured in the first episode of season seven of The Amazing Race Canada.
The popular show pits 10 teams of two against each other in a race across Canada and beyond, with the team crossing the finish line after many weeks on the road winning $500,000 in cash and prizes. The race is divided into a series of legs and on each leg, teams compete to reach the Pit Stop, where they are greeted by host Jon Montgomery.
In the first episode of the season, which aired Tuesday night on CTV, the 10 teams began the race in Toronto and flew to Kamloops, where they landed at Kamloops Airport, jumped into vehicles supplied by Smith Chevrolet Cadillac and tried to find three locations in Kamloops.
First stop was the Ajax mine site south of Aberdeen — the former Afton mine pit — where contestants were attached to a zip line and had to fly over the water-filled pit and drop a ball into a square target. They all eventually succeeded, despite encountering fierce winds for which Kamloops is known.
The next stop was Circle Creek Ranch and Equestrian Centre off Highway 5A, just south of Upper Sahali. There, teams were taken to a pen and challenged with finding the name of the next stop by reading tags attached to the ears of skittish cattle. Once the location was discovered, teams were then off to find the Kamloops Bike Ranch in Juniper Ridge, which served as the first pit stop, with host Montgomery waiting.
Dave and Irina, a married couple from Montreal, arrived first, winning a trip to South Africa and two in-game Express Passes (one to use, one to give away to another team) . Jet and Dave — a popular duo from season 1 voted on to this season’s race by viewers — finished dead last and were eliminated.
The importance of maps was highlighted in the first episode as Jet and Dave somehow ended up 80 kilometres from Kamloops while trying to navigate from the Ajax mine site to Circle Creek Ranch.
Tourism Kamloops worked with producers of The Amazing Race Canada in setting up challenges in the Tournament Capital.
“The opportunity to work with The Amazing Race Canada and their production crew to showcase Kamloops in this year’s season premier is a big win for Kamloops,” said Monica Dickinson, Tourism Kamloops’ director of industry relations and communications. “It was fun pitching creative challenge ideas that would have contestants explore all corners of the city.”
Dickinson said the production team spent a week in the city preparing for filming, hiring up to 60 residents in the process. She said the planning and filming in April led to a direct economic impact of about $13 million, while noting earned media coverage for Kamloops is an important piece of Tourism Kamloops’ overall marketing strategy.
“We invest approximately $50,000 annually to attract and host travel media from key markets and the return is significant,” Dickinson said. “In 2018, over $820,000 in earned media coverage was realized from our efforts — a great boost to our marketing outreach.”
To celebrate the season premiere of The Amazing Race Canada, Tourism Kamloops, Destination British Columbia and Cascades Casino hosted a viewing party at Match Eatery + Public House with industry partners and production supporters.
Episode 2 of show will feature teams racing through Revelstoke.
The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CTV.