Barrington man and his twin brother roam the world in ‘Amazing Race’
Twin obstetricians Idries (left) and Jamil Abdur-Rahman, who practice at Vista Medical Center East, teamed up to compete on the Amazing Race television show together, in Waukegan on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 21, 2013 7:35AM
WAUKEGAN — When it comes to racing 10 other teams of two around the world in an attempt to win $1 million, do twins have an advantage?
Do they have a connection established in utero that enables them to communicate telepathically? Can their two sets of hands work as one?
Jamil and Idries Abdur-Rahman, born seven minutes apart 36 years ago, don’t claim to have any other-worldly bond that would double their advantage in such a competition, but fans of CBS television’s “The Amazing Race” will start seeing for themselves Sunday when the Lake County physicians toe the line in the season 22 premiere.
“It’s funny,” said Jamil, a Barrington resident, during a chat about their experience at Vista Medical Center East. “I tell people that being twins was an advantage because he knows what I do well and what I don’t do well, and I know what he does well and doesn’t do well.
“And since we’ve worked together so often, we don’t necessarily have ESP, but we don’t have to communicate that much. He pretty much knows what I’m going to do next and I know what he’s going to do next, so we didn’t have to waste a lot of time with communication.”
On the flip side, Jamil added that he felt there was a disadvantage, “because we’ve done everything together, so there are some things that I’m weak in and he’s weak as well — we brought a lot of the same strengths to the tale and a lot of weaknesses as well.”
Actually, when Jamil mentioned that he felt they were both “more minds-on than hands-on,” Idries, who recently moved to Grayslake when the twins took jobs at Vista’s Lindenhurst medical office, disagreed a bit. “I wouldn’t say that. I think we’re a pretty good balance between the two,” he said. “We’re definitely more intellectual than physical, but we have a pretty good balance.”
Just don’t ask the Chicago natives and Kenwood High School graduates how they did when filing took place last fall, because that is a trade secret. While CBS has revealed that the season 22 locations include Bora Bora, Botswana, New Zealand and the north face of the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland, the Abdur-Rahman twins say they’re only allowed to speak in generalities as the season works its way toward an April 21 finale.
“I think they want us to stay away from specifics, like who won,” Jamil said. “They don’t want us to say anything that spoils anything.”
What they can tell you is that their training as obstetricians came in handy, having learned how to respond to, say, a delivery in the middle of the night.
“Not just being physicians but being OB’s in particular kind of worked to our advantage just because we’re used to working in a high-stress environment, and we’re used to working with little sleep,” said Jamil. “There’s little sleep, and it’s just go, go, go, and it’s high, high stress.”
Idries said that life as an OB also “prepared you for the unknowns of the race. The race is a big unknown — you don’t know where you’re going to go from day to day, hour to hour, what you’re going to do, where you’re going to sleep, what you’re going to eat. It’s kind of like a microcosm of what being a physician is like — we don’t know what each day is going to be like, don’t know when you’re going to get called, don’t know what you’re going to get called to, how you’re going to get there.”
“For a lot of people, that was tough, because I think most people are used to a very regimented life,” Jamil said. “For us, we’re used to living on the fly, (so) it was no big deal, but for other teams, it was tough, not knowing what to expect next.”
That’s about as close as you’ll get to any specific description of how they did in the competition. From preview materials posted at www.cbs.com/shows/amazing_race, it is known that the contest starts at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, and challenges include assembling a Polynesian outrigger canoe and finding a clue in one of hundreds of sandcastles buried on a beach. More notably, one of the twins is seen in a brief video clip skydiving out of a helicopter in a challenge where one contestant parachutes into water while the other picks up their teammate with a water taxi.
The process began last spring when Idries sent in an application after years of planning to do so — “I’d say I’m a big fan (of the show),” said Jamil, “and I’d say he’s a huge fan” — and filming took place in November and December. By the time everything was said and done, were the twins and co-workers ready for a good, long break from one another?
“I was not unhappy to get home and get back to my element,” Idries said with a laugh. “When you’re with your brother and in the same space for so much time, (you’re) kind of happy to get back to your routine. But we weren’t sick of each other.”
Joining the twins on the show are a second set of brothers, Anthony and Bates Battaglia, originally from Chicago’s northwest side Norwood Park neighborhood. They relocated to Raleigh, N.C., when Bates was drafted by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.