For the first time in race history, one team, married couple Eric & Lisa, was eliminated at the starting line as the remaining eleven flew to Tokyo, Japan and then Vietnam. Poker players Maria & Tiffany survived a non-elimination round followed by a Speed Bump and on and off couple Garrett & Jessica became the second team eliminated from the race.
LICENSE TO FLY
Twelve teams gathered at the starting line in the iconic Los Angeles River basin, the location used for movies such as Grease and Terminator 2, where host Phil Keoghan delivered a bombshell; for one team this would be a very short race. Looming behind Phil and their backpacks, the racers' first challenge awaited, and the team who came in last would be eliminated right there at starting line.
The stunned teams quickly regained their composure as Phil signaled the start of the race for one million dollars. Running to their bags, the teams ripped open their clues instructing them to fly to Tokyo, Japan. However, first they had to search a wall, with over a thousand license plates hanging on it, for one of only 11 license plates from the Shinagawa District of Tokyo, their first destination. Teams with an eye for detail could notice that the Japanese symbol for Shinagawa was printed at the top of their clue and it would correspond to the correct plate. Teams that found a correct license plate would receive a ticket on one of two flights to Tokyo. The team left without a plate would be the first team ever eliminated at the starting line.
Pandemonium reigned at the massive wall of license plates as teams had no idea what they were looking for. Sam, racing with his brother Dan, remarked, "We were all caught so off guard. We had no idea what to do." Teams didn't notice the symbol in the clue, and they ran up to Phil with the wrong license plates. Phil's rejections sent teams back to the wall to try again. Justin, racing with his friend Zev, who has Asperger's Syndrome, finally noticed the symbol in the clue and found a matching plate, securing their spot on the first American Airlines flight along with professional poker players Maria & Tiffany, dating couples Marcy & Ron and Meghan & Cheyne, father and son Gary & Matt, and Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy.
AN EARLY EXIT
After brothers Sam & Dan, newly dating Mika & Canaan, on and off dating Garrett & Jessica, and married couple Brian & Miss America 2004 Ericka all spotted the correct plate to earn seats on the later United flight, only one set of tickets remained. Yoga instructors Eric & Lisa frantically searched the imposing wall for the last plate along with engaged couple Lance & Keri. Practicing lawyer Lance commented, "I'm more of a street type lawyer so I'm used to adversity. I thrive on adversity." Lance's strong words were backed up by his fiancée, Keri, who grabbed the last correct plate and kept her team in the race.
With no license plates left, a stunned Eric & Lisa hugged each other and walked over to Phil at the starting mat, where he eliminated the couple from the race. On his team's quick exit, Eric remarked, "To be the first team eliminated now; the shame, the pain is gone for everybody else." Lisa added, "We set them free."
While waiting to board the American flight, poker players Maria & Tiffany chatted with Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy. When Flight Time asked Tiffany about her profession, she lied, saying that she and Maria worked for an organization for homeless youth in Los Angeles. Tiffany later explained that she and Maria didn't want the teams to know that they made a lot of money playing poker, because they thought the other teams would be less willing to help them.
The teams on the later United flight caught a huge break when they landed thirty minutes ahead of schedule, and only minutes behind the lead American flight. On the way to the Tokyo Tower Studios, a television studio at the base of the Tokyo Tower, Maria & Tiffany spotted brothers Sam & Dan who they refer to as the "hot guys." The brothers chose not to reveal being gay to the other teams in hopes of flirting with female teams, like Maria & Tiffany, to gain an advantage.
SPICE IT UP
The 11 teams arrived at the Tokyo Tower Studios within moments of each other and raced into the television studio where the roar of thunderous applause from a studio audience greeted them. They walked right into a Japanese game show of Sushi Roulette that would be their first Roadblock. In it, the game show host would spin a wheel containing nine sushi rolls and two wasabi bombs. Wasabi, a spice carrying extreme heat, is Japan's version of scorching horseradish. The contestants had to eat whatever landed in front of them on the wheel, and they needed to keep playing until they received a wasabi bomb. When they did, they had only two minutes to consume this fireball of flavor to receive their next clue.
In the first round, the two wasabi bombs landed in front of Cheyne and Ron who each picked them up as the studio audience and their teammates cheered the two racers on. While Ron struggled to swallow the incredibly spicy wasabi bomb, Cheyne powered through his as he encouraged the crowd to cheer even louder for him. Before two minutes expired on the clock, both Cheyne and Ron finished their wasabi bombs to earn the next clue for their teams. Ripping open the clue, Marcy & Ron and Meghan & Cheyne discovered that they had to use a colored flag to lead a group of 20 Japanese tourists from the studio audience, who were wearing matching colored hats, through the infamously overcrowded Shibuya Scramble Crossing to the Pit Stop at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine.
ALL CHOKED UP
After Garrett and Justin ate the scorching hot wasabi bombs for their respective teams, the wheel landed on poker player Maria. From the beginning, Maria appeared hesitant as she bit into the wasabi bomb, slowly choking down the spicy concoction. As the time slowly ticked down, it became clear that Maria wouldn't finish the wasabi bomb in the allotted two minutes. When the game show host called time, a stunned Maria watched as he spun the wheel that once again landed on her. Maria turned to her partner, saying, "I can't do another one, Tiffany." However, Maria proved herself wrong as she mustered up the fortitude to eat a second wasabi bomb in a row. This time she finished in just under two minutes, opening her empty mouth as the time expired. Running out of the studio with their tourists in tow, Tiffany gushed to Maria, "I love you so much. That was the most amazing thing ever."
AN EMPTY FEELING
Slowly teams left the studio until married couple Brian & Ericka were one of only three teams who remained. Brian failed in his first attempt to eat the wasabi bomb, nearly choking in the process, and allowed father and son Gary & Matt and brothers Sam & Dan to pass him by. With a sparsely populated studio containing only the host, the last twenty tourists in the audience, and Ericka, Brian took his second attempt at choking down the scorching wasabi bomb. As the final countdown from the host reached zero, Brian opened up his mouth to show that he successfully ate the entire wasabi bomb with wife Ericka cheering him on. The couple raced out of the studio with hopes of catching up to other teams that were trying to corral their tourists through the crowded streets of Tokyo.
Arriving at the Konno Hachimangu Shrine with their group of tourists, dating couple Meghan & Cheyne stepped on the mat in first place and received a trip for two from Travelocity to Aspen and Vail. On their great start to the race, Cheyne commented, "We're more than happy with how it's gone so far."
After engaged couple Lance & Keri staged a huge comeback, from near elimination in Los Angeles to a third place finish for the day, married couple Brian & Ericka staged a comeback of their own from leaving Sushi Roulette last. The pair found "an angel" on the streets of Tokyo who led them straight to the Pit Stop, bypassing the other teams for a sixth place finish behind fourth place Marcy & Ron and fifth place Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy. On their success, Ericka remarked, "It keeps our faith renewed that you absolutely have to fight ‘til the end."
Poker players Maria & Tiffany teamed up with brothers Sam & Dan on the walk to the Pit Stop, ironically falling for each others misdirects. Tiffany remarked on the brothers, "They're both young, hot, 20-something guys who've kind of become our friends." On the budding friendship, Sam said, "They work for a non-profit that helps homeless youth. They seem like passionate people." However, the two teams parted ways when Sam & Dan opted to follow on-and-off dating couple Garrett & Jessica, instead of sticking with Maria & Tiffany. The move paid off as the brothers finished directly behind Garrett & Jessica in ninth place.
LOST IN TOKYO
When they finally reached the shrine, Maria & Tiffany stopped just outside the entrance and stood in shock when they realized that they were missing two of their tourists. Unbeknownst to the poker players, the two tourists stood waiting in the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, having lost the group. Maria & Tiffany backtracked to no avail, as they couldn't locate the two wayward tourists.
While newly dating couple Mika & Canaan had a brief scare in losing one tourist of their own, they quickly found their straggler and claimed tenth place, leaving Maria & Tiffany in dead last. Stepping onto the mat, the poker players waited for the bad news, but Phil told the tearful pair that this was a non-elimination leg. Maria & Tiffany would incur a two-hour penalty for not checking in with all of their tourists. In addition to that, they would have to perform a Speed Bump task in the next leg, but the women were simply happy to still be in the race.
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM
Departing the Pit Stop in first place at 12:19am, dating couple Meghan & Cheyne discovered that they needed to fly 2,600 miles to Vietnam. When they landed in Ho Chi Minh City, they had to find a bus station and take a two-hour bus ride to the rural village of Cai Be. Once there, they had to race on foot to the Ben Tau Du Lich boat docks.
After leaving the Pit Stop, most teams wisely booked the same JAL flight to Ho Chi Minh City departing at 10:30am on the internet during the night, but four teams went directly to the airport where they were told the flight was sold out. Dating couple Meghan & Cheyne, father and son Gary & Matt, married couple Brian & Ericka, and poker players Maria & Tiffany all sweated it out before finally getting seats on the same flight as the other teams.
Maria & Tiffany, who still faced a Speed Bump after coming in last place, ruffled other teams' feathers by being coy about what flight they booked. Mika sniped, "Those girls aren't very nice." Matt added, "Those two are shady." To compound their problems with other teams, Maria & Tiffany asked a man for help who then recognized them as professional poker players, within earshot of brothers Sam & Dan. Their ruse as non-profit workers was now officially exposed. When Flight Time found out, he said, "I felt bad for them that they were almost eliminated, but now, game on."
Landing in Ho Chi Minh City, teams marveled at locals on mopeds braving the flooded streets of the city in the wake of a heavy rainstorm. Maria & Tiffany and Sam & Dan arrived at the Xe Mien Tay bus station together in first place, followed by Flight Time & Big Easy, Mika & Canaan, and Marcy & Ron. All five teams bought tickets for the 3:30pm bus to Cai Be, giving them a comfortable lead on the remaining six teams who had to wait for the 4:45pm bus.
While boarding the 4:45pm bus, pink-haired Matt spotted the first bus pulling out of the station and told the other teams who didn't realize they were on the second bus, which wasn't scheduled to leave for over an hour after the first group of teams. After the initial panic subsided, the teams, lead by Brian & Ericka and Garrett & Jessica, put their collective heads together and devised a plan to pool their money to pay the driver to leave earlier. The plan worked and the driver pulled out of the station as soon as the teams forked over the additional cash.
SIZE UP THE COMPETITION
Arriving in Cai Be, the teams on the first bus ran to the Ben Tau Du Lich boat dock, only to discover that it wouldn't open until the following morning at 7:00am. When the teams from the second bus showed up at the dock, everyone camped out for the night under the stars and ate some local cuisine. Poker players Maria & Tiffany make a living off of reading people and sized up their competition. On best friends Zev & Justin, Tiffany commented, "[They're] our least favorite team. We've just never gotten warm vibes off of them." On the legal eagle Lance, Tiffany quipped, "I don't want to use the word ‘meathead' in the wrong sense, but we just cannot picture Lance in a courtroom."
The next morning, as the sun rose over the calm water, and the tiny village came to life, teams ran onto the dock at 7:00am and opened their clues, which instructed them to race through the Mekong Delta using sampans to get to nearby mud pits located along the water. Then, working together, they had to collect the nutrient-rich mud, carry it to a nearby orchard, and use it to fertilize a fruit tree. Once they covered the tree's root system up to the designated red line, the farmer would hand them their next clue.
SOUP-ER SPEED BUMP
As 10 teams raced across the water on sampans to the fruit farm, Maria & Tiffany were left behind because they had to complete their Speed Bump task. In it, the poker players needed to find a soup stand and order the ingredients for a traditional Vietnamese soup known as pho. When they returned to the dock, they had to combine the ingredients and serve the soup to the dock master's liking in order to receive their next clue.
After finding the soup stand and getting all of the necessary ingredients for pho, Maria & Tiffany carried the tray of food back to the dock. Maria prepared the soup, remarking, "I'm a big eater of pho. I've served pho. I love pho. Everything pho." The dock master was very pleased with Maria's work and handed the poker players their next clue. Having completed the Speed Bump, the women now set their sights on catching the other teams.
DOWN AND DIRTY
Dating couple Meghan & Cheyne led the pack of sampans to the fruit farm followed by dating couple Marcy & Ron. Cheyne quickly discovered the potential pitfalls of the task when he landed thigh deep in the thick, wet mud. As other racers joined in, they had plenty to say on the difficulties of collecting and transporting the heavy mud. Brian shouted, "This is like concrete!" Ericka added, "I've never been a mud type of girl." On the other hand, Montana resident Gary commented, "We live out in the country. Shoveling…that's right up our alley." Having lead the pack through the whole task before finishing in first place, Meghan & Cheyne ripped open their next clue instructing them to return their boats to the dock and travel by foot to the Cai Be Field.
As Maria & Tiffany finally arrived at the fruit farm and began collecting mud for their tree, other teams began to finish and head back to shore behind Meghan & Cheyne. Once newly dating couple Mika & Canaan and best friends Zev & Justin departed, only the professional pokers players remained. However, in getting back to his sampan, Justin slipped, fell into the water, and unknowingly dropped his clue. On the ride back to shore, he realized the clue was missing and Zev suggested they return to the fruit farm where Justin fell. Just as Zev & Justin found their missing clue stuck to the side of dock, Maria & Tiffany completed fertilizing their tree, and both teams raced to catch the 9 teams ahead of them.
Arriving at the Cai Be Field in first place, dating couple Meghan & Cheyne opened their clue to find a Roadblock. In it, one team member, using only two flags as a guide, had to herd a group of 150 ducks, which are used in Vietnamese farms to rid rice patties of damaging insects, out of their pen, across a bridge and back again, and then return them to their pen. If teams didn't complete the task within the 10-minute time limit, they would relinquish their spot and wait for another available course.
Meghan, Jessica, and Ericka all chose to herd ducks for their team and all three had incredible difficulties corralling the unruly animals. Their three partners, Cheyne, Garrett, and Brian, all cheered them on from the sidelines hoping that the women could lead the ducks over the bridge and back in under 10 minutes. When all three failed to complete the task in the time allotted, they walked to the sidelines frustrated as other racers took their turn on the courses. Jessica told Garrett, "I don't like herding around animals."
Flight Time, Matt, and Sam all fared much better with leading their ducks through the course than the previous women did. In a tight race between the three, Sam emerged in first place when he led the last of his ducks back into the pen. Opening the next clue, he and his brother, Dan, discovered that they had to race on foot to Cho Cai Be, a market at the edge of the Mekong River. Once there, they would have to search along the dock for the Bassac III, a riverboat, and the Pit Stop for this leg of the race.
THE DUCK WHISPERER
As Flight Time, Matt, and Keri all finished herding their ducks and ran to Cho Cai Be with their partners, the other teams began to feel the pressure of a potential elimination. Canaan shouted at Mika to herd the stray ducks that were getting away from her, to which Mika screamed back, "I'm trying!" Zev observed that freaking out over the situation didn't help, and calmly went into the field. In a Zen-like manner, he quickly led his ducks back and forth over the bridge. Still waiting her turn to try again, a stunned Meghan gasped, "Zev is so good with them." Taking her cue from Zev, Meghan corralled her ducks on the second try and finished directly behind Zev and Tiffany who, with Maria, managed to overcome a last place start for the day.
Brothers Sam & Dan ran into the market of Cho Cai Be in first place, but the bickering pair couldn't agree on which way to go to find the riverboat Pit Stop. Their indecision cost them first place, as father and son Gary & Matt sprinted ahead and staked their claim as team number one. For their victory, the father and son each won a kayak along with the satisfaction, according to Gary, that the race "has brought us closer together."
DOWN TO TWO
Once Mika and Marcy finished herding their ducks, only former Miss America, Ericka, and Jessica remained in the field while their nervous partners helplessly looking on. Garrett remarked on Jessica, "She doesn't want to hear it from me. She's shut off. That's the biggest problem with us. I can never calm her down." When Brian shouted advice to Ericka, she barked back, "This is not easy, Brian! Don't you dare get disappointed in me!"
Things went from bad to worse for both Ericka and Jessica when they both failed their second attempts at finishing the task in under ten minutes. Jessica refused to talk to Garrett, taking the time calm herself down before opening the duck pen to start for a third time. Ericka also took a moment to regain her composure, knowing that she had to beat Jessica to stay in the race. Both women displayed their new-found serenity as they successfully led their ducks over the bridge and back again. Jessica appeared to have a slight lead but, in the end, Ericka chased her straggling ducks back into the pen just ahead of Jessica.
With only the slimmest of leads, Brian & Ericka ran through the streets of Cai Be as Garrett & Jessica followed in hopes of overtaking them. Reaching the Cho Cai Be market, the married couple still maintained a lead and ultimately stepped onto the mat in tenth place. With the difficult day behind her, an exhausted and relieved Ericka broke down in tears.
Stepping onto the mat in last place, on-and-off dating couple Garrett & Jessica received the bad news from Phil that they had been eliminated from the race. On leaving so early, Garrett commented, "It's a tough loss. I just feel that we're stronger than what our placing shows." On what the future holds for the rocky couple, Garrett added, "I don't know if we're closer to marriage."
1501 ROUTE MARKERS
Route Marker: Teams had to search a wall containing over one thousand license plates for one of only eleven from the Shinagawa District of Tokyo, their first destination. Teams with an eye for detail could notice the Japanese symbol for Shinagawa printed at the top of their clue that corresponded to the correct plate. Teams that found a correct license plate would receive a ticket on one of two flights to Tokyo. The team left without a plate would be the first team ever eliminated at the starting line. ERIC/LISA ELIMINATED
Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only one person can perform. In this Roadblock, the game show host would spin a wheel containing nine sushi rolls and two wasabi bombs. Wasabi, a spice carrying extreme heat, is Japan's version of scorching horseradish. The contestants had to eat what ever landed in front of them on the wheel, but they needed to keep playing until they received a wasabi bomb. When they did, they had only two minutes to consume this fireball of flavor to receive their next clue.
Performed Roadblock: DAN, CHEYNE, RON, BIG EASY, BRIAN, MARIA, GARRETT, CANAAN, JUSTIN, LANCE, GARY
Order of Finish
1. Meghan & Cheyne
2. Zev & Justin
3. Lance & Keri
4. Marcy & Ron
5. Flight Time & Big Easy
6. Brian & Ericka
7. Gary & Matt
8. Garrett & Jessica
9. Sam & Dan
10.Mika & Canaan
11.Maria & Tiffany
1502 ROUTE MARKERS
Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only one person can perform. In this Roadblock, that team member, using only two flags as a guide, had to herd a group of 150 ducks, used in Vietnam farms to rid rice patties of damaging insects, out of their pen, across a bridge and back again, and then return to their pen. If teams didn't complete the task within the 10-minute time limit, they would relinquish their spot and wait for another turn.
Performed Roadblock: MEGHAN, MARCY, JESSICA, ZEV, ERICKA, MATT, SAM, KERI, FLIGHT TIME, MIKA, TIFFANY
Order of Finish
1. Gary & Matt
2. Flight Time & Big Easy
3. Sam & Dan
4. Lance & Keri
5. Zev & Justin
6. Meghan & Cheyne
7. Maria & Tiffany
8. Mika & Canaan
9. Marcy & Ron
10.Brian & Ericka
11.Garrett & Jessica