Becca Droz has known since she was 11 years old that one day she would travel the world as a contestant on the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race.”
That dream was finally fulfilled with the filming of season 29 of the show, which premieres on March 30.
“It’s wild, right?” said Droz, 26, who grew up in Pittsburgh. Now a rock-climbing instructor based in Boulder, Colo., Droz attended Community Day School and is a graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice. She celebrated her bat mitzvah at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill, and also worked at that synagogue for a time as a teacher’s assistant.
Droz has been a dedicated fan of “The Amazing Race” since 2001, studying each episode of the show “as a means to gather strategy for when I would be on it,” she said.
Her confidence that she would someday be chosen to be on the show was often used a motivator when she was growing up in Squirrel Hill, she said.
“It was a running theme in my family,” said Droz. “If I ever had to hurry up and do something, my family would say, ‘Pretend it’s a challenge on ‘The Amazing Race.’”
Although her intent was to travel the world and conquer challenges with her older brother, David, this season of “The Amazing Race” had a new twist: instead of the contestants partnering with friends or family, each participant is paired with a stranger.
“My original dream was to have a brother/sister experience,” she said. “David wasn’t too bummed that he didn’t get picked. It was definitely more my dream than his. I did all the work, editing the [audition] videos. He was definitely excited for me.”
Although Droz was “nervous” that she might be paired up with someone with whom she didn’t get along, those concerns were quickly assuaged.
“Having a stranger as a partner ended up being really incredible,” she said. “I feel really lucky about who I was partnered with. But I could have been happy with many of the people competing. I think we as a group connected deeper than other casts, because we didn’t know anyone.”
Droz has always had “an innate sense of adventure and challenge,” she said, and a desire to connect with others through challenge. She has a college degree in Outdoor Leadership from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and sees the advantages for “personal growth, social growth and fun” that people gain through the challenge of rock-climbing. She also honed her sense of adventure during a gap year that she spent at a permiculture farm in Israel through Masa Israel.
But it was not just the challenges that attracted Droz to “The Amazing Race.”
“I wanted to experience the world in a very authentic way,” she said. “The people who create the show are very intentional about creating challenges that integrate you into the ingrained cultural experience” of the places visited.
Coming back home to Colorado following her time away with the show was “pretty weird,” Droz said. “To pretend it never happened for so long — it definitely was challenging to not tell people that I lived my dream.” The season was filmed during the summer of 2016.
Now that Droz can check “The Amazing Race” off her bucket list, she is ready to “accomplish other dreams,” she said. “This was just one of them. When I came back, I realized I can’t settle for anything mediocre ever again.”
Going forward, Droz has two main projects on her “docket,” she said. One is the formation of a new company in which she plans to create “Amazing Race”-type challenges as team-building exercises at corporate and social events. And next month, she is headed to Las Vegas to “pursue the biggest rock climb I’ve ever done.”
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.