Race Across the World series 3: Start date, contestants and everything you need to know about the BBC's global travel contest

The addictive travel competition returns for a long-awaited third series featuring a 16,000-kilometre coast-to-coast race across six time zones - but in a single country.

By Alex Fletcher Updated: 22 March 2023 - 2.08pm

After a three-year wait, Race Across the World returns to BBC One for a third series of globetrotting adventures.

The competition series in which pairs of contestants embark on an epic journey without air travel or modern trappings became a smash hit with its first two series in 2019 and 2020.

Series 3 will feature five new pairs of contestants and a 16,000-kilometre challenge to travel coast-to-coast across Canada.

Here is everything you need to know about Race Across the World series 3…

How to watch Race Across the World series 3?

First look at Race Across the World series 3 BBC/Studio Lambert

Race Across the World airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One and iPlayer.

Series 1 and 2 are available to watch on iPlayer now.

How to apply to take part in Race Across the World

If the stunning Canada locations and gripping drama of Race Across the World series 3 has given you the travel bug, there is still a chance to take part in the next series of the reality show.

Applications to take part in Race Across the World series 4 are still open on producers Studio Lambert's website.

"This incredible experience is open to all," says the application form.

"Whether you're a seasoned traveller or total novice. With a cash prize at stake, we want to know what lengths you would go to reach the next checkpoint in first place."

Race Across the World - First look clip

In tonight's launch episode (Wednesday, March 22), we meet the teams as they set off from Vancouver, perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

In this first leg of the race, they must navigate their way north to Tlell on the island of Haida Gwaii.

However, the first challenge is leaving starting point Stanley Park, which proves to be a challenge for best mates Tricia and Cathie. Two hours into the race, and the pair are still within the grounds of the park.

"That seems to be the biggest challenge at the minute – getting out of the park!" said Cathie.

Elsewhere, husband and wife, Zainib and Mobeen, realise that despite being married for eight years, they are as different as chalk and cheese when asking for help.

Their decision to ski at the resort of Whistler leaves them stranded in the mountains without any access to public transport heading north whatsoever - together, they’ll need put their different approaches to one side and muster all the charm they can to find a solution.

Race Across the World series 3 contestants

2023's five pairs:

  • Cathie and Tricia – Best friends
  • Marc and Michael – Brothers
  • Zainib and Mobeen – Husband and wife
  • Kevin and Claudia – Father and daughter
  • Ladi and Monique – Father and daughter

Cathie and Tricia – Best friends

Cathy and Tricia on Race Across the World BBC

Cathie is a 49-year-old company director from South Wales and Tricia is a 48-year-old bank clerk from Devon.

Why are they taking part?

Cathie: "It's become much more about me having a break from being something to everybody, and just having some time to be selfish and do what I want to do. The timing is fantastic for me, my children have both left home now and don’t need me 24 hours a day anymore.”

Tricia: "It's to prove to myself that with my sight loss I can still do stuff and that I'm not sight-loss Tricia, I'm Tricia with sight loss – because a lot of people do label you. I also want to get it out there that people that have got sight loss can still do whatever they want to do, obviously, apart from driving.”

Have they packed anything unusual?

Cathie: “I've got a code word book. I like to do code words. Where you get three letters, and you have to fill in the blanks. That's a weird thing to pack but I've got images of being on a bus for 36 hours, so I think I'm going to need something to do.

“I’ve also packed post-it notes so we can have a game of Heads Up! in case we’re stuck on transport for hours on end.

Tricia: "A pair of headphones without any music to go with them. I just bought the headphones, and then thought – ‘Oh, yeah, I've got nothing to play music on!’"

Marc and Michael – Brothers

Marc and Michael on Race Across the World BBC

Marc is a 36-year-old lift operator from Tamworth and Michael is a 34-year-old manager in children’s services from the West Midlands.

Why did they want to do the series?

Michael: "It's a unique chance to have protected time out of our individual lives, do something together and share some incredible experiences. I know it sounds a bit corny, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. It will not only help our relationship but will also really benefit us moving forward with our lives."

Marc: "I'd say probably more of the same. But also, it's a chance to have one more adventure. I'm at a stage where I'm ready to settle down, but I also want to travel."

What's the thing you're going to miss most from back home?

Michael: "My partner, my dog Max and going to the gym."

Marc: "I think there’ll be things about England that I'll miss that you can't get over here, like a KitKat Chunky. It's the little things, like the crisps that are different and not the same as the ones back home. I’ll obviously miss family members and probably quite a few of my friends that I talk to a lot, and my bed. Definitely. Oh, and football."

Mobeen and Zainib – Husband and wife

Mobeen and Zainib on Race Across the World BBC

Mobeen is a 31-year-old trauma orthopaedic surgeon and Zanib is a 32-year-old psychiatrist. They live together in Manchester.

Why did they take part in the series?

Zainib: "I think the both of us have always spoken about wanting to get a sense of adventure, wanting to go out there and do something that's out of the ordinary, but then we very gradually and sort of almost insidiously slipped into this life of nine to five, working and then coming home and that sense of adventure was completely gone.

"Then COVID happened, and it just feels like all we've been doing is working and watching TV. So, for us, it’s needing that sense of adventure again, we need to go back to the things that ignite our excitement. We're in our early 30s and we are living like we are in our 80s to be honest."

Mobeen: "It’s an amazing opportunity to switch off from life, which can sometimes seem to become a bit mundane, which it probably has been and the pandemic added to that."

How do you feel about travelling without your phone and cards?

Zainib: "I won’t struggle without having my phone, I’m actually really glad I won’t have it. I am absolutely buzzing. Keep it. Sell it for me. I don't care. What I’ll struggle with is not having my wallet. I'm very used to going out and about and saying, ‘I’ll have a bit of this, I'll have a bit of that'.

Mobeen: "At the minute it's feeling quite liberating not having that distraction. I said to Zainib that I feel like I've got phantom vibration going on in my leg because I keep reaching for it. It’s probably a bit of a withdrawal from phone addiction. It’s weird but I'm trying to be positive about it.

"When else are we going to get an opportunity to properly switch off from the day-to-day crappy emails?"

Kevin and Claudia – Father and daughter

Kevin and Claudia on Race Across the World BBC

Kevin is a 53-year-old marine canopy maker and his daughter Claudia is a 27-year-old working in product development and buying. They are from Southampton.

Why are they taking part?

Claudia: "I am looking for some adventure, a reason to explore and develop our relationship. An excuse to get closer to dad, spend some time together and hopefully create some incredible memories.

Kevin: "I think we've both had bizarre lives, we've done a bit of travelling. It all got a bit calm so when you start seeing a programme like Race Across the World, you think, ‘Oh, my God, this is exactly what we need'. But at the time, it's an application form you fill out and you think there’s maybe 14 million to 1 odds. You never think it will happen to you."

Have you packed anything unusual?

Claudia: "Mine and my dad's idea of the key things to pack are very different. Dad has questioned me on my choices of shampoo and conditioner. Apparently, that's not the right means of survival whereas Dad's gone for the bar of soap that's got to last."

Kevin: "I have a compass. I’m thinking it’ll always come in handy and a good old bar of soap."

Ladi and Monique – Father and daughter

Ladi and Monique on Race Across the World BBC

Ladi is a 52-year-old sport and physical activity professional from Essex. His daughter Monique is a 25-year-old event manager, who lives in East London.

Why did they want to take part?

Monique: "My main motivations are because I love travelling, but on a holiday. So, I don't actually travel, I've never owned a backpack, don't do the whole camping thing, that's not me. I want to challenge myself to be able to experience countries in a way that I probably never would unless it was a show like this."

Ladi: "I think for me, the motivation for doing this show is that I'm going to spend quality time with my daughter that I will probably never ever get again. Yes, she's my daughter, and she's always around, she's my princess, but she's entering into her own adulthood in a way. So, this is probably going to be the last time ever that we're going to be like this. I need to explain to her life and everything that goes with it."

Have you packed anything unusual?

Monique: "I’ve packed all my skincare and I've got quite an intense routine. It’s not just the moisturizer, it's the cleanser, it's the hyaluronic acid, it's the serums, it's the anti-ageing creams because I'm 25 now. It's the oils and it's the SPF. I don't think there's anything unusual. I’ve also packed my camera so I can take pictures along the way."

Ladi: "I've got a survival bracelet. If we get caught in the middle of nowhere and we need to start a fire, then we can."

Who is the Race Across the World narrator?

The Race Across the World series 3 narrator is actor John Hannah. He has done the voiceover for every series of the reality show.

John Hannah is best known for starring in the movies Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sliding Doors and The Mummy trilogy.

How many episodes of Race Across the World are there?

Race Across the World series 3 will have nine episodes.

Where is Race Across the World series 3 taking place?

The pairs will start their journey at the very edge of the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver.

They will attempt to travel over 16,000 kilometres across six time zones all at ground level to the finish line perched on the rugged Atlantic coast, North America’s most easterly city - St John’s, Newfoundland. 

The journey will take the duos through “the very edges of civilisation, taking in vast prairies, untouched wilderness, and great lakes”.

What are the Race Across the World rules?

Race Across the World isn’t just a way of getting an exciting holiday - there are a couple of big catches.

The couples aren’t allowed to use air travel and must go without the trappings of modern-day life. That means no mobile phone, no internet access and no credit cards.

Each couple is given an equal amount of cash at the start of the journey and if they need any more, they will have to find ways to earn it. Winning Race Across the World requires ingenuity, luck and the kindness of strangers.

Whoever reaches the finish line at the final location in St John’s Newfoundland quickest will be crowned the winner.

What is the Race Across the World prize?

The couple who cross the finish line first will win £20,000.

Race Across the World past winners

Race Across the World winners in series 2, Emon and Jamiul BBC/Studio Lambert

Series 1 – London to Singapore

Winners: Elaine and Tony

Series 2 – Mexico City to Ushuaia, Argentina

Winners: Emon and Jamiul (above)

How to watch Race Across the World

Race Across the World airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One and iPlayer.

There are nine episodes in the series.

Series 1 and 2 are available to watch on iPlayer now.

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