The Amazing Grandfather Race

By Bill Brioux

Some kids have to be talked into hanging out with their grandfather. Then there’s Sean Miron.

The 20-year-old Sunderland, Ontario-native and his 65-year-old grandfather Gilles will be spending plenty of time together this month on TV – competing on “The Amazing Race Canada”. The series returns Tuesday, July 2 at 9 p.m. on CTV.

Gilles will make history as the oldest participant ever on what has been Canada’s most-popular summer series for six straight years. Despite their 45-year age difference, the two are inseparable.

“I think we’re like best friends,” says Sean, who joined his grandfather late last April on a day of media interviews held at CTV’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre.

“We’re closer than most grandfather and grandsons,” explains Gilles, “because he’s always lived with me. His mother had him at 16 so he never had a father. I was like his father.”

Gilles welcomed the second chance at parenting. “We’ve been together since I could hold him like that,” he says, cupping his hands. “It’s been a long time.”

There are usually always one or two older contestants or even an older team on “The Amazing Race.” In 2015, CFL hall of Famer Neil Lumsden, then 62, partnered with his 31-year-old daughter Kristin. The two lasted well into the race, but the former running back had to occasionally raid hotel ice machines to stop the throbbing in his aching knees. Lumsden maintained at the time that mental toughness was perhaps even more important than athletic ability in tackling the TV marathon.

Seven seasons in, the grandfather-grandson dynamic is new to the series and should be fun to watch says host Jon Montgomery. At 40, and with two young children at home, the 2010 Olympic champion says that he’s starting to feel the advancement of age himself.

Montgomery firmly believes, however, that “with health and exercise, when you’re 65, there’s no reason why you can’t run the “Amazing Race Canada”. There are no limitations other than the ones you place upon yourself.”

Fitness should not be a problem for Gilles Miron, who remains an avid canoeist and instructor.

“I’m quite active through the summer months and still do canoe trips of 400 or 500 kilometers,” he says. Just the same, he stepped up his training for “The Amazing Race”, joining a gym for the very first time.

Sean said before the race that the other teams were already checking them out. “Is he going to be able to do this?” he imagined them saying. “Is he going to be able to move?”

“Little do they know the hidden ace we have up our sleeve. He really can do all this stuff.”

Adds Gilles, “I’m not afraid to take chances.”

Sean hopes his granddad is an inspiration to young viewers watching at home. “I want the world to see that you can and should do more stuff with your grandfather. So many people just visit them once or twice a year, sitting there with them and watching TV. Have fun together. Go for a walk! Be engaged in each other because we’re losing that.”

In other words, less Instagram, more Insta-grandpa.

There are some challenges even these two might not want to skip, however, such as gobbling down live worms or creepy bugs. “I have a massive phobia of worms,” says Sean. “If I have to eat a cockroach, cool. If I have to eat a worm, you’re going to see a grown man cry on television.”

Gilles had never seen “The Amazing Race Canada” before the two submitted a video and entered the competition. He’s caught up, however, scanning season after season to get a feel for the game and an idea of what to expect.

Competition this season will be fierce. There’s a husband and wife team from Montreal in their 20s; she’s a journalist, he’s a Burmese Bareknuckle World Champion. Another team consists of two professional Team Canada track and field athletes. Then there are Jet Black, 35, and Dave Schran, 40, two competitors from the very first season back for a second chance. Almost all the other teams are in their 20s or 30s.

Gilles and Sean would love to win the two cars, the trips to far off lands, the $250,000 grand prize money. They both know how they’d spend it. “Our family is in dire need of a vacation after putting up with us these past few months,” says Sean.

They won’t be too disappointed, however, even if they come away empty handed.

“This time that we’re spending together is a huge win for us,” says Gilles. “We can’t lose this race because were winning every single day that we spend together.”