9 1/2 Teams
Last TARcon, I was early and the racers were late. This time, it's the other way around. In fact, Kisha from TAR14 is there before me. Which, if you think about it, makes her the fastest Amazing Racer of all, in a sense. I get there just in time to stake out a couple of square feet of floor before the show starts (on time, for once) and I began jotting my recaplet down on a notepad in real time. The show happens -- if you're reading this, you know the ending -- and racers start showing up shortly thereafter. I spot Terence and Sarah from TAR13 making their way in. My initial plan is to snag them as they drift past to say hi, but it doesn't quite work out that way. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Attendance is down this time around. I'm going not only by my limited experience comparing this to TARcon 14, but also by the word of some seasoned TARcon vets (shout-outs to all y'all, by the way) who speculate that the combination of the economy and the proximity to the holidays is keeping a lot of people home. So it's pretty easy to move around in there for most of the first hour after the show. Marcy and Ron are the first people from this season to arrive, and they're able to quickly work their way along, smiling and shaking hands like a couple of politicians, only sincere. They come up to the group I'm standing with and greet us all like old friends. Or maybe more like nieces and nephews they haven't seen in a while. I don't have enough beer in me at that point to start "working," plus right now I can't think of a question more polite than "who is your favorite other old team?" so I let them drift on past, hoping to catch up with them later. In the brief time I have with them, I think they're probably the nicest racers I talk to.
Then cheers and applause starts coming from up near the entrance, and since I'm already in the bar and it can't be for me, I figure it means more racers are arriving. Sure enough, there are Meghan and Cheyne and Sam and Dan, just for starters. I didn't expect them this early, so it's kind of a nice surprise; perhaps I can get to bed at something resembling a decent hour tonight. While they start working their way through the crowd at the front, I find myself standing next to Kisha. I reintroduce myself and ask her what it was like to watch her first season as a non-participant. "Long," she said, and adds that she'd love to do it again sometime. Which is going to turn out to be a common theme among all the racers I talk to. Although she's probably the nicest one.