TORONTO - A father and son from Winnipeg have won the inaugural edition of "The Amazing Race Canada."
Tim Hague Sr. and Tim Hague Jr. emerged victorious in a family-themed faceoff against sisters Vanessa Morgan and Celina Mziray, and brothers Cory and Jody Mitic.
The showdown took place in Toronto and capped a slow but steady climb by the Hagues, who were nearly eliminated twice but were saved each time by a surprise twist in the game.
"It's such a release, it really is — we've been holding in this secret for months now, been wanting to like scream it to the top of the world, and now we can," the younger Hague said Monday night after watching the finale with the other teams at CTV's Toronto headquarters.
The broadcast was followed by a live after-show special in which all the teams got to revisit the highs and lows of the reality show which taped in May and is a spinoff of the popular around-the-world series from the United States.
That included the elder Hague's surprising come from behind victory in the final challenge, where each team was asked to identify the flags and flower emblems of each of the provinces they visited.
Hague completed the challenge first, allowing him and his son to get a head start in the final sprint to the finish line on the Toronto Islands.
"I'm here because of my wife, I won because of my wife," he said, noting that his wife suggested they take note of everything depicted on clue cards used throughout the race in case they needed it later.
The duo win $250,000 in cash, two 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays and 10 first-class flights for a year, anywhere Air Canada flies.
Hague Sr. said he expected to use the money to pay off some debt, a mortgage and to fund some world travelling, starting with a trip to France with his wife.
Hague Jr. expected to spend a good chunk helping his wife go through law school, and also funding a trip to New Zealand.
The elder Hague, a 48-year-old registered nurse, often said his determination to overcome a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease helped him focus his efforts on the show, which has been a ratings winner for CTV.
After winning the race, he said he hopes viewers are inspired to believe they can do whatever they put their minds to.
"It was a tough run. There were many days we were just exhausted and tired. It was hard, physically hard, but we had a lot of fun," he said, crediting his son with helping him get through the toughest stretches.
"It's very heartwarming for us, for me, to know that this goes beyond the cheque, goes beyond a car, goes beyond us winning something and actually I think gives people hope, inspires them, lets them know that if I can do this, there's probably something they can do."
The victory came at the expense of former military sniper Jody Mitic and his brother Cory, who came in second. The Kitchener, Ont.-raised brothers seemed to be front-runners after winning the three previous legs.
The 36-year-old retired soldier often touted his military training as a key factor in getting him through some of the tougher challenges.
That included some strenuous endurance and agility tests, which were especially challenging because Mitic lost both his legs below the knee after he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan in 2007.
Meanwhile, Ottawa-born underdogs Morgan and Mziray finished third despite being dismissed early on as ditzy lightweights. They had an especially sharp rivalry with the Hagues, dubbing them "the Tims" after several altercations.
The 23-year-old Hague admitted that his and his father's strong personalities can make them seem "kind of obnoxious" but said the show was edited in a way that was "very, very generous" to them.
"There were some days where we weren't quite as nice as they showed, so thank you very much for that," Hague Jr. said.
And they dismissed any suggestion their win was any less earned because they benefited from both of the game's non-elimination rounds.
"They do a good job with the show, keeping it balanced between brawn, a little brains, a little luck," said Hague Sr.
"And as you can see for us we had a little brawn, we got through the cold, we got through Iqaluit; we had a little brains, I didn't get by those flags and flowers just by luck; and we had a whole lot of luck. So it all plays well and it means it plays to everyone's advantage and/or disadvantage."
During the after-show special host Jon Montgomery announced CTV had greenlit Season 2 of "The Amazing Race Canada." Auditions will open this fall.
Hague Sr. urged producers to keep the race Canadian and to take it to his home province.
"Stay in Canada. There's no need to go anywhere else yet," said Hague Sr. "I fully endorse the whole idea of going international but there's lots more to see in Canada. And you've certainly got to come to Manitoba."
By Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press