Whether he's hand-feeding sharks, bungee-jumping off a bridge or renewing his wedding vows underwater with his wife, Louise, Phil Keoghan tends to pepper his life with adventure. "People think about doing things like that but they never do," he says.

Of course most people don't get to travel the world the way Keoghan, a native New Zealander, has for the past 12 years, hosting a variety of Discovery and Travel Channel documentaries. That led to Keoghan's current high-profile gig: hosting the CBS hit The Amazing Race, which features two-person teams in a frantic sprint around the globe. (First prize, to be awarded Dec. 12, is $1 million.) Trying to keep up with the teams—who logged 35,000 miles in 31 days—"I got maybe two hours sleep a night," says the 34-year-old host, who developed an easy rapport with the players during last spring's taping.

"He was always trying to keep everyone up," says Brenda Mehta, 41, who, with best friend Pat Pierce, 42, was eliminated in the Sept. 26 episode. Keoghan's TV career got off to a fast start too. The eldest of three children of a plant scientist dad and a music teacher mom, he hosted his first adventure show on New Zealand TV at age 19. In 1991 he and then-girlfriend Louise moved to New York City, where Keoghan landed his first U.S. gig, hosting the talk show Fox After Breakfast. Now living in Rye, N.Y., the couple are raising daughter Elle, 5, with Keoghan's adventurous spirit. "Given what happened at the World Trade Center, we should learn that you really have to live your life," he says. "When I'm old, I won't want to look back saying, 'Woulda, coulda, shoulda.' "