The Amazing Race is about to kick off its 22nd trip around the world.
CBS' reality competition returns at 8 p.m. Sunday with 11 teams competing for the $1 million prize. Among the competitors are a pair of country singers, two YouTube hosts and a couple who were married only four weeks before the Race started.
As the teams prepped for the start of competition -- taking them on a 30,000-plus-mile trip, visiting five continents and nine countries -- host Phil Keoghan and co-creator/executive producer Bertram van Munster sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to give a preview of the upcoming season.
"Now we have more than 10 years of experience doing this, and we've got a phenomenal route laid out, with great challenges," van Munster says. "It's going to be so crazy. It's guaranteed not to bore you. Crazy things will happen."
Keoghan reveals that the show will return to New Zealand for the fourth time, visiting his hometown of Christchurch, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2011 that resulted in 185 deaths. "This is a great opportunity for us to go back and show the place in a more positive light," he says, adding: "We've got some really cool stuff set up there for the teams."
Meanwhile, van Munster reveals that the first leg will take the teams to Bora Bora, where they will have to do a parachute jump out of a helicopter. "It's very intimidating," he says. "It's almost a form of base-jumping, but out of a helicopter at 10,000 feet. It gets pretty hairy. And I’m not sure everyone knows where Bora Bora is; that's another part of the challenge."
From there, they also travel to Bali, Indonesia; Botswana; and Switzerland. Keoghan adds that this Race is 25 days long, which is four days longer than the previous season.
This season of the competition also will feature a new twist wherein the first team to check in at the first pit-stop will earn two “Express Passes” -- one to keep for themselves and one that must be given to another team by the end of the fourth leg of the race.
In addition, Keoghan reveals, "We have a switchback coming that's a classic Amazing Race moment that we're going to repeat. We know from past experience that this is going to tweak them."
As for which teams might do well, Keoghan has his eye on a couple of duos: the roller-derby-mom duo of Mona Egender and Beth Bandimere ("I think they are going to be fiercely competitive") and father-son cancer survivors David and Connor O'Leary ("They come on the show with a passionate story to share").
Other potential standouts, he says, are pro hockey-player brothers Bates and Anthony Battaglia; firefighters Matthew Davis and Daniel Moss; and twin brothers Idries and Jamil Abdur-Rahman, who work together as OB/GYN physicians.
Keoghan also says he gives all the teams advice before each Race begins. Among his tips: Always read the clue carefully, and don't isolate yourselves from the other teams. "You want to make your own decisions, but at the same time, you want to keep your competition close so you know where you're at," he says.
Van Munster adds that one competitor actually got hurt just before the first leg of the competition got under way at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. "Unfortunately, she doesn’t even know what's coming," he says. "This is nothing. We're in Los Angeles, America. We have medics. This is all good."
So does the executive producer, who created the show with his wife, fellow EP Elise Doganieri, find it hard to come up with fresh and new challenges every season?
"No, the world is a great place, and there's lots of things we can do," he says. "As long as viewers love what we're doing, we'll keep doing it."
Watch a sneak peek at Sunday's premiere below.