The shock of winning $50,000 crept across Brittany Stuart’s face as Dan Debenham, host and producer of BYUtv’s Relative Race, announced the results of a grueling ten-day race. Brittany and her husband, Justin, are known by Season 2 fans as Team Green from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I don’t know what to feel. I’m humbled and overwhelmed,” Brittany exclaimed when she heard that she and Justin were the winners. “I wasn’t expecting this.”
The second season of the BYUtv program featured four couples who were selected from 1,000 contestant applicants. The race began in Miami, Florida, and ended in Boston, Massachusetts, for the final challenge.
The objective of the reality show was for each couple to meet and spend a night with a new family member each day of the 10-day race. Each day’s leg of the race was timed, and the losing team of each leg got a strike. Three strikes and the journey of family discovery ended.
Through DNA matching, Ancestry had located the unknown relatives and charted a route to a general area, but competitors had to find their own ways to family homes in an allotted time. Equipped with only a printed map, a rental car, a clue, and a flip phone without web access or GPS, the couples raced to navigate their way through unfamiliar cities and states each day, solving additional clues associated with their next unknown relative that would ultimately lead them to their relative’s home. Once they met their new relative, they’d snap a photo on the rudimentary cell phone and send it to the show’s host to stop the clock. Couples faced elimination if they went over time and received a strike. Then they were able to relax a bit to learn how they were related and get to know more about each other.
Justin said the hardest part of the competition was being constantly stressed out. “We weren’t used to that, and even if we thought we knew where we were going we weren’t sure if it was the right way until we arrived. It was a crazy, fun adventure with many twists and turns,” he said. “In such a stressful environment we learned to work together and what it takes to become a team.”
Brittany agreed. “There is always the anxiety of what the day will bring. You’re sore and you’re tired or may feel sick. But you push yourselves, and that’s so satisfying to see how far you can go.”
They found that being introduced to new family members was the highlight of each day.
“It’s all worth it when you meet your relatives. It clears the fog from your head and you realize you are here to meet these precious people who are making sacrifices for us,” Brittany remembered.
From being treated to frog legs and alligator tails to sleeping in an elaborate tree house, the couple was welcomed and accepted as family—easing the tensions of the day.
The last challenges on day 10 were held along the Freedom Trail in Boston with three couples remaining.
“When we saw Dan [Debenham], it was this whole explosion of relief,” Brittany said. Their win didn’t really register with them until they got back to their hotel that night.
“We had been running and gunning the whole day and were soaked [because it was pouring rain], cold, and tired. It’s hard to process things when you’re exhausted. We were still trying to catch our breath and didn’t put it together right away. We just knew we’d done our job and tried our hardest,” Justin explained.
“That $50,000 meant our first home together and giving back to our families who have done so much throughout our lives,” Justin explained. The couple also helped their favorite charity, Beauty for Ashes Uganda, which works with single moms and widows in the Teso Region of Uganda (www.beautyforashesuganda.org).
The Stuarts have been married just over a year and were living in a tiny one-room apartment before winning the race. In their new house, Brittany has enough space to have a studio and work from home. Brittany’s passion is to empower women through photography and fashion (missbeautymark.com), and Justin has two YouTube channels (youtube.com/jstustudios and youtube.com/morejstu).
“We are very blessed and thankful we got to be part of this opportunity. We look back and see how we’ve grown as a couple. God is working though this experience. All glory goes to Him; we wouldn’t be here without His guidance,” Justin added.
“I’m so, so happy,” Brittany exclaimed. “This show was the best thing for us ever, for our marriage, for us individually. At first we were focusing on the prize but then when we started meeting our family members our whole focus changed.”
They are still in touch with the family members they met.
“One of the biggest things we are taking away from this race is the importance of families. I don’t think I put it in the forefront before, but this has really opened my eyes,” Justin said.