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Kat Genetti, left, and Nicole Adelman put together a jigsaw puzzle at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Mini-Mall at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Friday. They were the first to complete the puzzle and the only ones to make it on a shuttle bus that put them way ahead in the game, a version of “The Amazing Race.”

Kat Genetti, left, and Nicole Adelman put together a jigsaw puzzle at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Mini-Mall at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Friday. They were the first to complete the puzzle and the only ones to make it on a shuttle bus that put them way ahead in the game, a version of “The Amazing Race.” (Kent Harris / S&S)

Kat Genetti, left, and Nicole Adelman put together a jigsaw puzzle at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Mini-Mall at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Friday. They were the first to complete the puzzle and the only ones to make it on a shuttle bus that put them way ahead in the game, a version of “The Amazing Race.”

Kat Genetti, left, and Nicole Adelman put together a jigsaw puzzle at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Mini-Mall at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Friday. They were the first to complete the puzzle and the only ones to make it on a shuttle bus that put them way ahead in the game, a version of “The Amazing Race.” (Kent Harris / S&S)

Kat Genetti and Nicole Adelman start in on their lunch of 10 tacos , part of Friday's version of "The Amazing Race."

Kat Genetti and Nicole Adelman start in on their lunch of 10 tacos , part of Friday's version of "The Amazing Race." (Kent Harris / S&S)

LaJuana Fields watches the golf ball she hit from 20 feet away find the hole Friday during one of the challenges in the race.

LaJuana Fields watches the golf ball she hit from 20 feet away find the hole Friday during one of the challenges in the race. (Kent Harris / S&S)

Kat Genetti, left, and Nicole Adelman glance at the first clue of the race.

Kat Genetti, left, and Nicole Adelman glance at the first clue of the race. (Kent Harris / S&S)

Edwin and Rhondrea Jennings look for specially priced clothing at the AAFES store in Aviano Air Base, Italy.

Edwin and Rhondrea Jennings look for specially priced clothing at the AAFES store in Aviano Air Base, Italy. (Kent Harris / S&S)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — It wasn’t exactly a victory of Olympic proportions.

But Kat Genetti and Nicole Adelman became mini celebrities at Aviano when they won the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s version of “The Amazing Race.”

“Luck,” was Adelman’s answer for the two friends’ winning formula.

“Pure luck,” Genetti said in agreement.

Nimble fingers, quick thinking and forgiving stomachs didn’t hurt either.

But the key was their ability to make a bus connection.

Because while contestants of the popular television series take all sorts of transportation to travel the world during the course of a TV season, the five teams competing at Aviano had a more daunting means of getting around: the base shuttle bus system.

And to complicate matters, the minimum number of buses was operating Friday because most of the base’s local nationals were on vacation.

“It was because of the bus,” said Kelly Olivares, an active-duty airman in the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron. She and husband, Jesus, who also serves in the squadron, came in second. “We came up right behind it, but it wouldn’t wait for us.”

Of course, if the couple had been just a bit quicker putting together their jigsaw puzzle, that wouldn’t have happened. Adelman and Genetti had finished their puzzle and made the bus connection with a few minutes to spare. The rest of the teams had to wait until the next bus back to the flight line came along.

That meant that Adelman and Genetti, both spouses of active-duty airmen at Aviano, had more than enough time to connect with a few balls from the batting cage, eat 10 tacos and find a message hidden under the table at the food court.

Their winnings, according to AAFES store manager Michael Brennan, included a pair of televisions, DVD players, PlayStation 2 games and other prizes. It was about $1,000 in merchandise each, he said, all donated by corporate partners.

Adelman said she has watched the television show a few times, while Genetti said, “Actually, I’ve never seen the TV show.”

Brennan called the event a success and said the Aviano exchange would probably host the game again in the fall.

author picture
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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