Dozens of reality stars are headed to the Derby City Saturday for a new event that will resemble something straight out of the reality show “The Amazing Race.”
The inaugural Urban Stampede will pit two-person teams in a race through the streets of downtown Louisville. Armed with clues, the teams will try to reach a specific destination, where they will face physical and mental challenges that they must complete to get their next clue to a new destination.
“It’s like ‘The Amazing Race,’ but with ‘Survivor’-like obstacles,” said Mark Lynch, CEO of Atomic Rhino, a company he launched in August 2011 to bring adventure-style racing to Louisville.
“I’m a big fan of reality TV; ‘Survivor’ is my No. 1 show and ‘The Amazing Race’ is my No. 1A favorite show,” said Lynch, who also is a forensic photographer with the Louisville Metro Police Department.
“I’ve been researching doing this kind of race for three years ... there has been nothing here in Louisville like this.”
Lynch said his race also is different from others nationwide because “you don’t just start and run until you get to the finish line ... you don’t know where the finish line is.”
And it won’t just be hundreds of Louisville-area residents speeding around the city Saturday morning. More than 30 stars from popular reality shows will also be up for the challenge, he said.
Kentucky “Amazing Race” stars David and Mary Conley, who helped Lynch gather star power for the event, will be on hand. The coal miner and his wife, who hail from Stone, Ky., became immediate fan favorites after appearing on the show’s 10th season, and again in season 11 for “The Amazing Race: All Stars.”
Mary Conley said when she got wind of the Urban Stampede, she immediately started calling stars from a variety of popular reality shows to encourage them to participate in the event, which is a benefit for FEAT (Families for Effective Autism Treatment) of Louisville, the Dare to Care Food Bank and Brightside.
She said she’s a firm believer in “charity coming from the heart” and said all of the stars are “coming in on our own dime.” Added David: “If you fly them in, that’s taking away from the charity ... that’s what she tells them.”
The reality stars competing in the race include several well-known speed racers from “The Amazing Race,” like Manchester, Ky., residents William “Bopper” Minton and Mark Jackson, season 9 winner B.J. Averell, Kandice Pelletier, Ralph Kelley, Deana Shane, Jodi Wincheski, Tom Rock, Terry Cosentino and Mama and Papa Paolo.
From “Survivor,” Louisville’s own Sandy Burgin will compete along with Brandon Hantz, Billy Garcia and Debra Beebe, who now call Floyds Knobs, Ind., home. Chris Daugherty, the winner of “Survivor: Vanuatu,” will also be on hand to put his outwit, outplay and outlast skills to the test Saturday morning.
Speaking of Hantz, his father, Shawn Hantz, star of “Flipped Off,” is also coming.
The stage will come alive at 3 p.m. with performances by singers hoping to land a spot on upcoming seasons of “American Idol” and “Nashville Star.” Then, from 5:30 to 6 p.m., an awards ceremony will be held to announce the grand-prize winners of the Urban Stampede. The champs will get an all-inclusive trip for two to Cancun, courtesy of Bliss Travel.
Local band Thumper & The Plaid Rabbits will also entertain the crowd for an hour-and-a-half set that will be followed by performances from “American Idol” finalists Lindsey Cardinale and Michael Sarver. Capping off the concert will be headliners Haley Scarnato of “American Idol” and “Nashville Star’s” Jeff Fairchild, who currently have an act together in Las Vegas.
“We just have seven hours straight of incredible music,” said Jeffrey Alan Crowder, producer of the Urban Stampede and owner of Full Event Productions.
For those looking to do a little star gazing, there’s good news. Lynch said celebrities won’t be in a roped-off section, but instead “they’ll be mingling with everybody.”
Lynch said he’s “expecting upwards of 300 teams to participate,” and “I’d like to see 5,000 to 7,000 people on the waterfront.”
He’d also like to make it an annual event, and some of the reality stars said they’re up for the challenge.
“We’re already preparing for next year,” Mary Conley said. “Next year, I promise you, it’s going to be bigger than this year ever thought about being. Adds David: “We’ll have at least 100 reality stars.”
On tap to attend from “Big Brother” will be Michael “Cowboy” Ellis. “Southern Belles: Louisville” stars Emily Gimmel and Shea Johnson will also race.
The Urban Stampede is comparable to a 5K race in distance, and organizers estimate that competitors will complete it in 2 ½ to four hours. The race kicks off at 10 a.m., with competitors departing from the Belvedere every 30 minutes. But that’s about all organizers are revealing about the route.
“Every obstacle and the map of the course is top secret,” Lynch said. “It goes through downtown Louisville and takes people through some sites of Louisville.”
Lynch did reveal that participants, who travel by foot, will have to tackle 11 obstacles. “You do not have to be a runner. Walkers will enjoy the course just as much. The course will cover approximately 10 miles, but a large part of the course will be on a public transit system, so the actual running course will be three to four miles,” he said.
Organizers say the race is ideal for all ages — “from 8 to 108,” Lynch said. “It will challenge you mentally, physically and emotionally, but it’s doable for anyone.”
In addition to the race, there will be food, refreshments and children’s activities on the Belvedere. The star power continues after the race with a concert featuring reality stars.