GR native to compete in ‘The Amazing Race’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids native is going to live out his dream on national TV as he and his partner compete for $1,000,000 on CBS’ “The Amazing Race.” 

Before he was racing around the world, James Wallington was walking the halls of Forest Hills Central High School and scoring roles in productions at Grand Rapids Civic Theater. But even then, he had his eye on a bigger stage.   

“I’ve been a super fan since season one which debuted in September 2001. I was 12 years old. I remember telling myself while watching the first episode I will do this someday,” Wallington said.  

That someday became reality, but not before some relentless effort to get on the show. Wallington first started applying for the show back in 2005. He applied with his mom, dad, sister, various friends even a former roommate.  

“Turns out Will, who is now my fiancé, was the perfect partner for me on this adventure of a lifetime,” said Wallington. 

Wallington and fiancé Will Jardell are not allowed to spill the beans on what we will see on the show, but Wallington was able to share, as a super fan, what surprised him the most about the move from the couch to the competition.  

“We watched a lot of the seasons prior to going. We ran every day. We have international travel experience but no matter how much you think you can prepare for it. The one thing I don’t think you take into consideration is the exhaustion,” Wallington said. 

James and Will embarked on this journey of a lifetime two years ago, in a time that the world looked a lot different — a world before COVID-19. 

“This is the perfect time for it to air. I think I feel like a lot of us, if you are like me, you are totally itching for an adventure. By tuning into ‘The Amazing Race’ it will definitely offer that sense of escapism and remind people the good that is out there in the world and beauty that is all around us. You just have to go look for it,” said Wallington. 

Through it all, Wallington says his biggest take away from the race is to never give up and always chase your dreams.  

“If I would have told my 12-year-old self that I was going to be on ‘The Amazing Race’ someday, I would have thought they were joking. I still can’t believe it. I’m still pinching myself, it’s completely surreal,” Wallington said. 

Wallington moved to Los Angeles about 11 years ago but says Grand Rapids will always be his hometown and he hopes to do West Michigan proud.  

“The Amazing Race” premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday on CBS.