Whom would you pick as a partner if you were in “The Amazing Race?” Significant other, sibling, parent, friend? It’s fun to wonder. But running the race is another thing. The 15th edition of the Emmy-winning CBS reality show, which begins Sunday, spans eight countries in 21 days. That’s a lot of miles.

EW reveals the route and interviews executive producer Bertram van Munster. What to look forward to:

  • The action begins at the Los Angeles River, and for the first time in show history, a team will be eliminated mere yards from the starting gate. The challenge involves a fence with thousands of license plates—some of them from Japan (which serves as the first destination).
  • Once they get to Tokyo, racers find themselves on a Japanese game show, and they have to eat a tear-inducing Wasabi bomb.
  • When contestants arrive in Vietnam, they face down a Roadblock involving 2,000 ducks.
  • In Dubai, competitors will be presented with a chilling Detour: They have to take snow from an indoor ski area and build a snowman outside in the scorching Middle East heat.

“Very often in the middle of the series, [the contestants] get kind of cozy with each other and there could be a little bit of a lull. In this race, there is no lull. There is pedal-to-the-metal competition. They’re constantly overtaking each other. Every time we stand at the finish line we were blown away who gets eliminated and who stays in.”