In a break from format, it's 22 strangers showing up for an individual "starting line challenge" followed by a "schoolyard pick" for two-person teams.
As the cast picked each other based on "first impressions" so do we. What stranger would you want as your teammate in a race around the world for $1 million?
DISCLAIMER: This is spoiler free. I attended the start of the "Race" last June without any information on the cast and did not interact with them. I did not revisit any notes from what I saw and do not remember who any of these people are 9 months later. Rankings and judgments here are based only on bios provided from CBS and their headshots.
Redmond Ramos, 28, Fremont CA
First Impression: This guy has one leg on a show with "Race" in the title. Don't bet against him. @DocPeglegRed already won another CBS competition, the "Triumph Games."
Would I pick him as my partner? Yes.
Michael Rado, 37, Pittsburgh, PA
First Impression: "Duck Dynasty".
Would I pick him as my partner? A few seasons ago, a similarly bearded and similarly bodied gent on a team called "Truck Stop Love" had an athletic ability fueled by truck stop food. Pass. It's an unfair association, but pass.
Jenn Lee, 25, Palos Verdes, CA
Model/Miss Korea California
First Impression: Yup, she's a model.
Would I pick her as my partner? @JennLeezy told producers that she hopes her partner is "a dude." Lynn Spillman and her CBS casting team love putting pageant contestants on TV so she likely has the reality DNA for a fun run, if not a deep run. Maybe she would pick me.
Kevin Ng, 31, San Diego, CA
Trainer at the USA Rubgy Olympic Training Center
First Impression: This guy has nothing to do with the Olympics.
Would I pick him as my partner? If I knew then what I know now, yes.
Becca Droz, 26, Pittsburgh, PA
Rock Climbing Instructor for Women/Barista
First Impression: Her tank says "Da Burgh".Why isn't she wearing black and yellow?
Would I pick her as my partner? One of her hobbies is "juggling". Another is "swing dance". Double red flag. No.
Sara Fowler, 27, Virgin Islands
Luxury Real Estate Agent
First Impression: Those sneaks.
Quote from her application: "I’m most proud that I followed my intuition and moved to the Virgin Islands, leaving behind my nursing career and the life I had created in my hometown of Baltimore."
Would I pick her as my partner? If I was going on "House Hunters International," I would pick her as my real estate agent.
Olive Beauregard, 24, Providence, Rhode Island
First Impression: Crossfit?
Would I pick her as my partner? She joined the fire department at age 21. She works on a team - professionally - with unpredictable schedules, little sleep, and physical performance prerequisites for not getting fired.
She's a top pick for anyone.
Floyd Pierce, 21, Highlands Ranch, CO
First Impression: Young.
Would I pick him as my partner?
Pros: He's a huge "Amazing Race" fan. Studies applied math on a full scholarship.
Cons: Floyd's never been out of the country. International sea legs take years to build. A blank passport is a deal breaker. Pass.
Francesca Piccoli, 33, Banning, CA
1SG/E-8 Airborne Civil Affairs Soldier / Former Drill Sergeant
First Impression: It's Jackie from the "Blind Date" season of Amazing Race!
Would I pick her as my partner? Creators Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri made this season "First Impressions" for a reason.
"Yes Ma'am, Drill Sergeant, I made a mistake. Please put me on latrine duty now drill sergeant, Ma'am!"
Jessie Lynn Shields, 28, Howland, Ohio
K-9 Police Officer in Youngstown, Ohio
First Impression: Jacked. (Her hobbies are "bench pressing, squatting, and dead lifting. I also enjoy shooting guns and sleeping.")
Would I pick her as my partner? She should get with the drill sergeant or the firefighter for a badass female team.
London Kaye, 27, Brooklyn
First Impression: Chyron casting (That's reality tv speak for someone getting on a show based on how cool their name/age/job graphic will look on-screen. See above.)
Would I pick her as my partner? She doesn't look like a street artist who crochets Miller Lite billboards in Time Square and creates massive props for Gap commercials. She also doesn't read like chyron casting. She looks like a prototype of an "Amazing Race" contestant. Yes.
Brooke Camhi, 36, Lynbrook, NY
First Impression: Looks like she's a returnee on an all-star season...already.
Would I pick her as my partner? She passed the bar in two states. Smart people do well on this show. A top pick.
Ashton Theiss, 25, Ft. Worth, TX
Farm and Ranch Real Estate
Key Fact: First person in her family to graduate college (cum laude with a double degree).
Would I pick her as my partner? Depends on how thick that Texas accent is. (We haven't heard it yet.) The "Cowboys" are one of the most iconic teams in "Race" history.
Liz Espey, 24, Maryville, Missouri
First Impression: Trump voter. (It's the buckle and the boots. We have no idea what she's really like, that's the point of this season.)
Would I pick her as my partner? See above.
Tara Carr, 38, Deployed in Afghanistan via Alexandria, VA
U.S. Army Officer
First Impression: Is this the "mom" on this season? (*Looks at her bio*) Yes.
Would I pick her as my partner? I'm deducting points for her season-specific twitter handle (@TAR29GoArmyTara) and because Tara doesn't appear to have Instagram. She has an accomplished military career, but is scared of flying (they go 36,000 miles this season), is scared of heights, and the lone "mom" role amongst reality 20-something alphas has never performed well on the "Race". We love you for running our military, but will pass on running the "Race" with you.
Logan Bauer, 27, Navarre, FL
Orthopedic Device Rep.
First Impression: "Survivor" reject, repurposed for the "Race".
Would I pick him as my partner? Never been outside of the U.S. By precedent, we apply the blank passport rule. Stay away.
Seth Tyler, 37, Seattle, Washington
First Impression: His application overflows with generica. Sample:"Exploring new destinations and cultures excites me."
Would I pick him as my partner? He looks like he can run fast and is here to play it like a sport, not get "mall famous" on a TV show. Yes.
Vanck Zhu, 28, NYC
Wall St. Analyst
First Impression: Is he a super fan?
Would I pick him as my partner? He said something I've never seen another "Race" contestant say in their application: His biggest fear of traveling the world on the show is "getting sick". We'll get enough germs in the 9 countries, 17 cities, and 36,000 miles traveled over 21 days of this show. I don't need to sit next to them in coach class for hours on end too. Sorry guy, I'm out.
Matt Ladley, 25, Steamboat Springs, CO
First Impression: CBS put him front and center in the cast photo. That's a good sign.
Would I pick him as my partner? He travels professionally, breathes elite fitness, and hopes to "make an awesome new friend." Top pick. Scoop him up in the schoolyard pick.
Joey Covino, 46, Saugus, MA
First Impression: Was he on "Melrose Place"? (That's a joke a 46-year-old would get.)
Would I pick him as my partner? Reality shows love Boston accents and cops. Put them together and I'd be scared off by the casting trope. There are other cops, and that drill sergeant, for those who seek a race partner in uniform.
Scott Flanary, 34, Charlotte, NC
University Recruiting Manager
First Impression: Kellan Lutz
Would I pick him as my partner?
Pros: Knows the game. Does Crossfit. Has heart. He lost 40 lbs. in a massive lifestyle change.
Cons: Scared of heights. "Not very good with foreign languages."
Shamir Arzeno, 28, Bronx, NY
Associate at Top Banking Firm
First Impression: Looks like a winner.
Would I pick him as my partner? Shamir is dropping references to Waze and "powerlifting," he looks like A-rod without the punchable face, and put himself through college. This "singles" season of "Race" was made for a guy like this, who was probably one of Bertram and Elise's first pictures on the casting board.
First round draft pick. Get him.
"The Amazing Race" returns to CBS on Thursday night, March 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
We'll have a behind the scenes recap of the starting line then.