Meet Race Across The World contestants Eugenie and Isabel

Isabel & Eugenie
Isabel & Eugenie. Credit: BBC/Studio Lambert Ltd

Eugenie (60, Teacher) and Isabel (25, Trainee Clinical Scientist) from Barking/Birmingham are a mother and daughter with clashing personalities and contrasting strengths who hope the race will improve their understanding of one another.


Why did you want to take part in the series?

Eugenie: Isabel came to me and said she was going to be putting in an application for Race Across the World and it was going to be for her and myself so I asked her “what is Race Across the World?” She said “you need to watch it” so I started watching it and got really excited and thought “Yes, I’d love to be on that” and filled in the application. So, really the starting point was Isabel. And also, another thing is, I do anything I can to keep my kids happy including Isabel, so if it was going to keep my daughter happy then I was ready to do it.

Isabel: I put in the application because although it seemed quite intense, I thought it would be something cool for us to bond together in the process. Mum and I are not as close as we could be so I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore.

Eugenie: I’ve rolled with it, originally, I applied to make my daughter happy but then I watched the show and thought it was really exciting. Then when she said it would be a good time for us to really bond and spend time together I thought actually, she’s right because Isabel’s language of love is time and we haven’t actually really had the quality time that we could have had recently. So I thought this is going to be brilliant, 24/7 just with each other all the time, we’ve got no choice but to work things out and bond.

Have you got a strategy going into the race?

Isabel: We learnt loads of languages that are now pointless.

Eugenie: Isabel was doing the Spanish speaking, then German between us and I was doing the French.

Isabel: Just the who, what, where, whys. I think now, our strategy will be trying to utilise Mum’s Makaton and other communication tools that she’s had to use with the children with special needs she works with. Mum knows how to simplify things better for people, so I think that’s where we’re going to go.


Eugenie: We were just thinking that in terms of the senses, people can be quite visual, so as well as using gestures, we’re going to have to speak English but it might be that we could draw some visuals in terms of trying to find different modes of transport for example.

Isabel: So, we brought a pen and paper and we have got little flashcards.

Eugenie: I also have a cardboard roll that has some paper and markers in case we might need to do some drawings, some visuals, hold up some signs for hitchhiking maybe, instead of just doing the thumbs.

Have you picked up any tips from previous series?

Isabel: Change the time on your watch according to where you are so you don’t miss anything, so we did that as soon as we got here. That’s our plan, we checked the time and changed our watches. What else? A notepad and pen.

Eugenie: Yes, a notepad and pen, we’ve each got one. We’re going to use it to diary as well, and for planning, Isabel’s a planner. Travelling at night too to save a bit of time.

What made you travel with the person that you’re travelling with?

Eugenie: Well, I enjoy spending time with Isabel anyway, but she might say something different. We went to Spain about 10 months ago and my perception was that it was great which was completely different to hers. But I enjoy spending time with Isabel.

Isabel: I think it’s more so because the past few years we’ve not really had that time to spend with one another So, it’s about embracing that.


Eugenie: Our conversations could be a bit deeper emotionally. Sometimes we’re at loggerheads, I say sometimes because it’s not all the time, but it’s about kind of, learning how to understand each other.

Isabel: I almost think we don’t know each other very well so it’s an opportunity to actually get to know each other.

Eugenie: I think for us it’s more emotional, it’s more about emotions and feelings and understanding each other’s emotions and feelings and how to run with it. That’s what I think it is.

How competitive are you both? Are you in it to win it?

Eugenie: We are so competitive. I am very competitive, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


Isabel: I don’t think I’m as bad as you are though.

Race Across The World airs Wednesday nights on BBC One and iPlayer.