Filming a reality TV show like The Amazing Race Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging but worthwhile, host Beau Ryan says.
"I get a headache thinking about it, and we had to change the route a couple of times, but we still made it happen," the Illawarra product and former rugby league player said of the extensive planning required.
"We couldn't have put any more into the show - we were all physically and mentally exhausted by the last week.
"But we got it done, and I can't imagine what the teams were going through. That was why there were so many tears and so much drama."
The pandemic necessitated a shift for the program, as international border closures resulted in it being filmed entirely in Australia.
This season, 14 competitive teams will leave their passports behind, as they race, criss-crossing the nation and taking part in the challenges, all with their eyes on the $250,000 prize.
The program was filmed between September and November.
Ryan returns for season two, dolling out rewards and punishment, and keeping teams in check.
"We had one quarantine to start, and when we got back to Sydney we finished there, and it took a couple of weeks to finish there, so we didn't have to quarantine again," Ryan said.
"Once you come out of quarantine, you're COVID free, and we were in a bubble, and there was literally slim to none of anyone catching it.
"And we were going to communities that hadn't even heard of it, so it was good," he said in jest.
Ryan said he was frequently amazed by the places they visited.
"We were mapping out places, some that I hadn't even heard of... Just (being able) to showcase them," he said. "Some of the islands we got off at, the top of the country, Queensland, parts of Tasmania.
"It's just amazing. Some of the places in the middle of the country, we found ourselves at a pit stop just looking at each other and saying, 'wow'.
"And that happened probably half a dozen times overseas (last season). But we found ourselves saying it nearly daily in this country."
Ryan said he also hoped the show would help boost interest in local tourism amid the pandemic.
"Because we're all locked up now and we can't go overseas and travel, there's no reason why you can't leave and take your family to the outback, to the north, or down south, and have the best holiday you've ever had," he said.
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Ryan lives in Cronulla, Sydney, but many of his family members and friends are in the Illawarra, south of Sydney.
"I reckon we start the show in Albion Park next year, go to Warilla, then a quick trip to Croatia if the border's open, and then we'll probably finish in Warilla, or Albion Park Rail," he joked.
The Amazing Race Australia premieres February 1 at 7.30pm on the WIN Network.
Meet the contestants: Shane and Deb
It was a tough 2020 for Wollongong, south of Sydney, postie Shane Wilson, 47, and his firefighter wife Deb, 40, but they're ready to prove to their kids that anything is possible.
After Shane was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Deb lost her gym during COVID-19, the couple who have done so much to help those around them needed to take a step back and help themselves.
With Shane's health taking a positive turn, this outdoor-loving, ultra-competitive team are ready for the race of a lifetime.
Throughout Shane's illness, the couple's finances took a hit, so the $250,000 grand prize would help them bounce back.
The couple were fans of the show beforehand, with Deb saying in a video released prior to the season premiere that she loved the "energy, excitement, the adventures and all the competitions".
"Every time we watch it, we go, 'we could do that easy'," she laughed.
"We make a perfect pair because we've lived together, I know his advantages and disadvantages, so we work together. Everything has been teamwork, from beginning to end, always.
"We love travelling, and just getting places, and going and seeing new things."
"We just want to show that you can fight to be better people," Shane said.
What would you do with the prize money?
Shane: Have a barbecue to thank all the people that helped me while I was unwell. I'd also pay off the rest of my medical bills and buy back the family ski boat, which we had to sell to help pay for my operation.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced in your life?
Deb: Helping to keep Shane positive through his ordeal with prostate cancer and keeping the kids in a positive frame of mind.
Meanwhile, Ryan urged the Illawarra to support the couple during their run on the show.
"The 'Gong are going to be proud of them - everyone should get behind them," he said.
"We had a few chats along the way. We tested them, and they aimed up."