Did you watch Episode 3 of this season’s The Amazing Race Scotland on CBS last Friday night, October 10th? The competing teams wound up on the Shetland Islands for the first time in the show’s 25 seasons.
Even if you dislike reality shows, you may enjoy this episode of The Amazing Race Scotland, entitled Get Your Sheep Together–
I found it amazingly funny (pun intended).
FYI:There are NO SPOILERS in this post–just a few observations, so you can enjoy the show at your leisure. You can see the entire episode online HERE.
Upon arrival in Shetland, the teams’ first challenge was a detour, requiring them to choose to “pony up” or “light my fire.” Teams who elected to pony up had to cut peat and transport it to the top of a hill via awww, so adorable Shetland ponies. The ‘light my fire” task required teams to successfully make a Viking torch like the ones used in Shetland’s famous fire festival, Up Helly Aa, a celebration of the island’s Viking history.
I would have chosen to make the Viking torch–Up Helly Aa, Y’All!!–but quite a few teams choose to cut and haul the peat.
Why? Because those teams incorrectly thought a) the small Shetland ponies are cute (yes) and b) they must be easy to handle (not just NO, but HELL, NO!).
Ask any horse person and they’ll tell you: never underestimate the stubbornness and quick temper of a pony. Shetland Pony-tude is not just a local legend.
The Viking task turned out to be no easy feat, either. The Guizer Jarl oversaw the creation of a Viking torch, used to set ablaze a Viking longship, in miniature, down at the local harbor. The jarl, wearing a magnificent spotted cow hide coat (want, want, want) was very picky about the wrapping of the burlap layers, causing some teams to rethink their idea of going a-Viking.
Up Helly Aa has always been on my bucket list, but after seeing all the Nordic camaraderie in Episode 3, I want to be a Viking guizer, not just a spectator! Not gonna happen because I’m female, but it’s certainly worth a try.
The funniest challenge for The Amazing Race Scotland required all teams to herd a group of sheep down a hill and into a pen.
If that sounds easy, you are either a border collie or have never come face to face with a herd of sheep.
Sheep bounce, you know—like wooly balls of fluff on speed–and adhere to a mob mentality of “Panic! Panic! Everybody PANIC!” when faced with loud humans running around the field. A few teams worked out Babe’s “Baa Ram Ewe” method of herding the sheep with gentle persuasion; other teams tried creative, but ridiculous methods to pen the sheep, who were unfazed by the visitors’ silly efforts. I was embarrassed on behalf of humans every where after one team erected a wall of clothing to guide the sheep. You’ll have to see it for yourself to truly understand the complete lack of common sense and engineering skills that were on display to the world.
On the other hand, I was snorting and laughing so hard at one point, my dog got worried and came over to give me comfort!
After penning the sheep, the competitors for The Amazing Race Scotland were given a penannular brooch replica and told to go to the place were the brooch was “found.” Most teams puzzled out this clue fairly quickly and raced off to be first at the Pit Stop, the final destination for this leg of the race. As for the teams who had trouble with directions <cough, cough…men…cough>, well, let’s just say it pays to ask the RIGHT people for the RIGHT directions. Or maybe, don’t over-think the clue. Or how about, go to the nearby museum or local history center and ask them for help because it’s their job to know a lot about the island.
As Episode 3 shows, sometimes staying in the game comes down to survival of the mentally, not physically, fittest.
The Celtic penannular brooch was based on an early Medieval one found in 1958 on St Ninian’s Isle, a small island linked to mainland Shetland by a sandy causeway. Teams arriving at the Pit Stop on St Ninian’s were greeted by host Phil Keoghan and a dancing Puffin Man. Do you know the Puffin Man? He’s obviously not related to the Muffin Man, but seems to be a mascot for Shetland.
Strange, because puffins do live in the Shetland Islands, but they don’t dance. At least, I think they don’t.