Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Contestants with Pittsburgh Ties Continue To'race'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Contestants with Pittsburgh Ties Continue To'race'

Article excerpt

Some of the best moments in the 29-season history of CBS's "The Amazing Race" are the ones where racers just have fun seeing the world.

In that vein, Squirrel Hill native Becca Droz and Lawrenceville chef Michael Rado are off to flying starts.

Ms. Droz, a 2009 Allderdice High grad, and her teammate, Floyd Pierce of Boulder, Colo., have been laughing it up through the first two episodes (Thursdays). Mr. Rado, who owns Butcher on Butler, ran the race with Liz Espey, an auctioneer from Marysville, Mo.

In an "Amazing Race" first, 22 strangers showed up at the start and chose partners.

"I feel I was born for this show," said Ms. Droz, now a rock climbing instructor in Boulder. "I thought it looked super fun to be doing all these challenges. Even when I was 11 years old, I would watch [on TV] and say, 'I would do WAY better than them.'"

Also on the show were Jessica Shields, a police K-9 officer in Youngstown, Ohio. She was with drill sergeant Francesca Piccoli, and the team was eliminated Thursday.

On the season debut, the racers were sent to a luggage shop to find pieces marked with the flag of Panama - the first stop on the trip around the world. Once they'd been paired and were on their way to the airport, they were instructed to open the luggage. In one was the coveted Express Pass, which allows a team to skip a challenge of their choosing.

Like Charlie Bucket finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar, Mr. Pierce yelled with glee when he pulled the Express Pass from his bag.

"His reaction was priceless," Ms. Droz said, laughing.

"TAR" strategy leans toward hiding the pass from the others, which created a certain amount of stress, she added.

"We were super-duper paranoid that someone would hear us, so we came up with a code name for it. But we are both terrible liars."

Ms. Droz swam, ran and played tennis at Allderdice. In high school, she was in the Science Olympiad and volunteered for social action groups such as the student hunger action coalition, which painted houses in West Virginia.

After two years at Colorado University, she took off two years, then got her degree in outdoor leadership at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C. She has been climbing for about eight years.

Amazing Racers often face height-related challenges. While not a great fan of those kinds of stunts, Ms. Droz said she's found doing things that scare her make her feel alive.

Fear was a factor for Mr. Rado as well, at least in the first jaunt to Panama City.

"You're running around the world, terrified," he said, only half-joking. "You're terrified you're last, terrified you're never going to find [the location], terrified you'll be the first to go home, and NOBODY wants to be out first."

Like some reality show contestants, Mr. …

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