Phil Keoghan will tell you that the most amazing race wasn’t on his TV show, it took place almost nine decades ago.
The host of CBS’ “The Amazing Race” happened upon a book about the first English-speaking team to enter the Tour de France, and he was hooked. He re-created their torturous 3,300-plus-mile journey in the documentary “Le Ride,” which he’s bringing to Utah for a benefit screening on Thursday.
All the proceeds will go to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Keoghan will introduce the film and take questions afterward — and he’ll be joined by a couple of familiar “Amazing Race” faces — Utahns Dave and Connor O’Leary, the father-and-son team who won Season 24 of the race, which aired in 2014.
“The fact that Dave and Connor are ‘Amazing Race’ winners and live in Utah and cycle and are cancer survivors and that we can do something good — it’s the perfect synergy,” Keoghan said.
(Dave O’Leary survived prostate cancer; Connor O’Leary — a former professional cyclist — survived testicular cancer.)
“The thing about Dave and Connor,” Keoghan added, “is they really epitomize what we want on ‘Amazing Race.’ A team with passion. A team that has a great backstory. A real connection with each other. Respect and love for each other. So it just seems so fitting that everything is coming full circle and we’re coming back to work with each other in a different way.”
Keoghan, a native of New Zealand, was enthralled with the story of an “underresourced” team of one Kiwi and three Australians who traveled to the other side of the Earth for the 1928 Tour de France. That race was about 1,100 miles longer than the present-day version; it was mostly on unpaved roads, and racers rode bikes that weighed twice what racing bikes weigh today and had no gears.
It had “the highest attrition rate of any race in Tour de France history — 168 started, and only 41 people finished,” Keoghan said.
He’s “always been fascinated with stories about underdogs” and was distressed that this team of underdogs had been all but forgotten.
“I think this is a remarkable story that really needs to be told,” he said — but with a “different approach.”
“Rather than telling the story from the outside with archival material and voiceover and writing it in an observational way, I thought I’d put myself on the road and retrace every mile — stick to the same schedule on the old, original bicycles.”
Which sounds like Keoghan — who’s known for his personal adventures — maybe went a little crazy this time.
“What do you mean this time? I’ve been accused of being crazy many times,” he said with a laugh. “I have a reputation for being a little nuts.”
“Le Race” fits Keoghan’s personal philosophy, adopted after a near-death experience while exploring a sunken boat nearly 30 years ago.
“I just hope that people see the realm of possibilities,” he said. “That they see that grit and determination can actually help you achieve things. There’s a lot of people who dream about things that they want to do and they don’t take the opportunity to try new and different things. I just want people to be inspired to get out there and take on their own life-changing adventures.
“I think it’s only by living life to extremes that you really appreciate life.”
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune