By Jessica Shaw
Updated December 27, 2004 at 12:00 PM EST

It is often the larger-than-life (Survivor‘s Rupert) or just the large (American Idol‘s Ruben) personalities that make a reality show successful. But for The Amazing Race, it took Charla Faddoul — four feet of moxie, primary-colored ensembles, and a cast-iron stomach (caviar! ostrich eggs!) — to transform the Emmy-winning series into a hit five seasons in. One of 2004’s most memorable television moments was Race‘s first episode, in which Charla carried a 55-pound side of beef on her back (literally) and her partner Mirna (figuratively) in a challenge in Uruguay. ”The bones were sticking in my back, the blood was dripping down my body, it smelled in the 90-degree weather,” recalls the 28-year-old sporting goods store manager, who is hoping to parlay her Race stint with Mirna into ”a Paris Hilton–Nicole Richie-type show.” ”There were moments on the race when I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, am I over my head or am I humiliating myself?’ But at least I know I put my heart into it.” And warmed our cold reality-loving hearts in the process.

Episode Recaps

The Amazing Race

Phil Keoghan hosts the globe-trotting adventure series.

  • TV Show
  • 29
  • In Season
  • CBS
stream service