Friends since elementary school, Amanda Bednar and Sharayah Conrath (pictured above at the finish line in 2016) spent years dreaming of competing in CBS's "The Amazing Race." So when they heard about The Salvation Army's MOST Amazing Race in 2009, they jumped at the chance to participate.
"My mom has been a longtime supporter of The Salvation Army, and she read about (the race) in a newsletter," Conrath explained. "We thought it would be great practice, if we ever got to audition for the television show."
But after their first year, they were hooked.
Initially, the two friends say they struggled with some of the easier challenges, which put them behind in the race.
"Once, we had to put candy in a pool noodle and fling it to each other, but it just fell right out," Bednar laughed. "We stopped and just looked at each other. We still laugh about it today."
That's when they named themselves "Team Struggle."
That burns all the way down! Racers have had to drink Buffalo Wild Wings hot sauces to tell the flavors apart.
Team Struggle recites a script they memorized on the fly.
Team Struggle's best advice: Read your clue!
But as roommates and close friends, Bednar and Conrath know they have an edge in some challenges. One of their favorites was doing improv at Comedy Sportz in 2016.
"We know each other so well, and our minds work the same way," they explained. "That was really fun for us to use our heads and our relationship to excel at that challenge."
After competing for nine years, they say there are too many favorite challenges to count. But naming the one they never want to tackle again is easy.
"Eating a variety of Buffalo Wild Wings hot sauces was by far the worst," Bednar said. "Sharayah tossed her cookies at the next bus stop."
Together this team has raised $3,155 for Salvation Army food and housing programs in the Twin Cities. They say the key to fundraising is not to be shy about it.
"Don't be afraid to ask," Conrath said. "Many people are willing to donate to support a good cause and to support us in our effort to help the community."
Team Struggle will be back to compete in the 2017 MOST Amazing Race on Saturday, Oct. 7 in St. Paul.
For new racers, they say there are two keys to having a great time.
"Pick a partner who you can yell at and still work together," Bednar said. "It's all about teamwork and being able to move on after fighting over who has to eat the last canned tomato."
And, Conrath adds, don't forget the most important advice of all: "Read your clue!"