Seth Tyler will compete in the CBS reality show’s new season, which begins March 30. This time, contestants are paired with strangers.
Bellevue’s Seth Tyler applied to be on CBS’ “The Amazing Race” with his younger brother two years ago and didn’t get on the show. Then producers had other ideas.
Usually “The Amazing Race” (10 p.m. Thursday, March 30) sends pairs — mother-daughter, best friends, a dating couple — on a competitive trip around the world. But for this 29th edition, producers opted to pair up strangers who meet for the first time in this season’s premiere episode moments before embarking on a race that spans nine countries, 17 cities and 36,000 miles.
Tyler, 37, a public information officer for the Bellevue Police Department, figured when he and his Portland-based firefighter brother were turned down, that was the end of their “Amazing Race” aspirations. But last spring, the “Race” casting department called, asking Tyler to run the race without his brother.
‘The Amazing Race’
When: 10 p.m. Thursday, March 30
“I was a little apprehensive,” Tyler said. “I know my brother really well. I know what he’s good at. Going into this it’s a wild card. You don’t know that person [you’re paired with or their] skills or abilities.”
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Tyler got his brother’s blessing to run the race, and then he started prepping for the reality competition, memorizing about 80 percent of the world’s country’s flag designs, thinking such knowledge might come in handy for a geography challenge.
“We only had one month’s notice before the race began so it wasn’t a lot of time to prepare,” said Tyler, a motorcycle officer in the Bellevue police traffic division for eight years before his current post.
Tyler sought the blessing of his boss, Bellevue police chief Steve Mylett, before going on the reality-TV competition.
“His immediate response was, ‘It’s not gonna be ‘Dating Naked,’ is it?’ ” Tyler recalled. “I said, ‘No, sir, it’s a very family-friendly show,’ and explained the show to him.”
Tyler got Mylett and the Bellevue city manager to sign off on his adventure and used his vacation time to cover his absence from work. His story to friends was that he was “hiking with my dad in a place that didn’t have cellphone service.”
Tyler said he’s long been a fan of “Race,” largely because his parents instilled a love of travel in him.
“I loved watching the teams go to these beautiful countries and interact with the culture and people who live there,” he said. “With the race you’re doing challenges some of which are fun to do — I have no fear of heights or pretty much anything so those challenges just seem like a lot of fun to me — and a lot of the challenges have a nexus through the culture of the country you’re in.”
Tyler said he went into the “Race” confident in his communication skills.
“I speak Spanish fairly fluently — it was my minor in college — and having a foreign language is a huge benefit in the race,’” he said. “My experience being a police officer means I can take orders and execute without drama and hesitation or questioning. I knew that would serve me well. The question was I didn’t know who I’d be paired with. You can’t do the race on your own. It’s a team sport. Not knowing if my teammate would be of the same mindset was a little nerve-racking to say the least.”
Tyler is sworn to secrecy on whom he gets paired with on the show, though he acknowledges his first order of business after being paired up was to brainstorm with his partner on each of their strengths and weaknesses. He put balance, language skills and familiarity with boating in his strength column.
“I’m a terrible dancer,” he said, noting a weakness that may be a hurdle on “The Amazing Race” where there is often a local culture dance at some point in the competition. “I was hoping whoever I’d get paired with would be able to dance somewhat well because there have been teams in the past where they had to do those dance challenges and fallen behind because they weren’t able to complete them.”
Did Tyler and his partner get along?
“I’ll say this, every team, myself included, had very strong moments and then you had moments where you second-guessed your teammate,” he said, choosing his words carefully to avoid spoilers. “You’re at the starting line with all these people you’ve never met and you make judgments based on how people look, and then they surprise you, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.”