Father and son Michael & Kevin learned the valuable lesson to "always read your clue" the hard way as two easily avoidable penalties led to their elimination in St. Petersburg, Russia.
JOINING THE CIRCUS
Departing the Pit Stop in first place at 8:30am, dating couple Jill & Thomas ripped open their clue instructing them to travel from St. Isaac's Cathedral to the Abtobo Circus. The dating couple arrived at the gates of the circus only to find it closed allowing the remaining six teams to catch up. When the gates opened, the seven teams rushed to the cluebox to find a Detour giving them the choice of Circus Band or Circus Clown. In Circus Band, teams had to choose an accordion player to teach both of them to play a Russian folksong. When they could perform the song correctly they would receive their next clue. In Circus Clown, teams made their way under the big top to learn a traditional plate spinning routine. If teams could keep ten plates spinning simultaneously for at least ten seconds, a clown would hand them their next clue.
Running into the circus tent, father and son Michael & Kevin, home shopping hosts Brook & Claire, and dating couples Chad & Stephanie, Jill & Thomas, and Nick & Vicki became immersed in a crazy world of dancing clowns as the teams unsuccessfully attempted to spin plates on wooden poles with the chaos surrounding them. After a few wobbly plates crashed to the floor, Brook & Claire quickly found the rhythm and technique to keep plates spinning as they ran to add more. Nick & Vicki also got into the groove of balancing the plates with relative ease, even in the face of a major challenge for Nick. He later said, "My grandma had a clown room growing up that we would all had to sleep in as kids…It would scare the crap out of you. Me or my brothers, we just don't like clowns."
NAME THAT TUNE
Meanwhile, outside of the big top, doctors Nat & Kat and father and daughter Gary & Mallory picked up accordions and started to learn a complex three-part song. Self-proclaimed nerds Nat & Kat used a numeric code by assigning numbers to each key of the accordion and writing down each note as the corresponding number to learn the song. The doctors would then shout out the numbers to each other and read the meticulously numbered sheet music they created and slowly play the notes on the accordion. The more musically inclined Mallory didn't need to concoct a system to remember the song, and relied only on her ear to know when she hit a wrong note. Gary just took the cue from his daughter following along and copying her note for note.
As Brook & Claire and Nick & Vicki began to line up a full row of spinning plates, Chad & Stephanie and Jill & Thomas continued to flounder. Stephanie's attempts to start spinning the plates resulted in them falling off the pole, prompting Chad to say, "Lightly Stephanie. You flung it." With each plate falling as soon as they tried to balance it on the pole, Jill & Thomas decided to take their chances playing the accordion. Jill later said, "We just get too frantic too quickly so we decided to give up." As the dating couple exited the big top, Brook & Claire successfully placed their tenth and final plate on a wooden pole to earn their next clue. Opening it, the home shopping hosts needed to solve a Russian mystery by figuring out they had to find Bank Bridge, the canal bridge guarded by four creatures with golden wings.
Back outside of the circus tent, after doctors Nat & Kat performed the song to earn their clue, a frustrated Chad & Stephanie ditched the plate spinning and joined Gary & Mallory and Jill & Thomas by picking up a pair of accordions. While Jill & Thomas had no better luck with the accordions than the plates, Chad & Stephanie appeared to pick up the song quickly with Chad joking, "It's like Guitar Hero." Jill & Thomas became more flustered when they realized the song they had to learn was in three parts. By the time they heard the third part, the dating couple had already forgotten the first part prompting Thomas to say, "This is crazy, Jill." After Gary & Mallory successfully played their song, Jill & Thomas decided to switch tasks once again, but they returned to an empty circus tent because Nick & Vicki and Michael & Kevin had already finished spinning their plates. Once Chad & Stephanie earned their clue at the accordions, Jill & Thomas fell into last place at the circus, but the dating couple remained calm and finally mastered the plate spinning technique. Jumping into their taxi, Jill & Thomas knew they had a lot of ground to make up on the teams in front of them as an incredulous Jill said, "Thomas, we are in last place. This is not good."
A RUSSIAN MYSTERY
Arriving at Bank Bridge in first place, Brook & Claire opened their next clue instructing them to travel on foot to 1 Vladimirskiy Street Tower. Teams could ask locals for directions, but they could not pay a taxi to lead them. Once there, only two team members at a time could climb up to the tower. Then, they had to figure out that the small figurine on the ledge was inviting them to visit the famous St. Petersburg building, the Church on Spilled Blood. Teams then had to walk to the church to find their next clue. As Brook & Claire ran off in search of the tower just ahead of Nat & Kat and Nick & Vicki, father and son Michael & Kevin arrived at Bank Bridge and mistakenly asked their taxi driver to lead them to 1 Vladimirskiy Street Tower in direct violation of the clue. When Brook later noticed that Michael & Kevin kept their taxi, she said, "That's not fair at all."
With Brook & Claire running past the marked entrance to the tower, Nat & Kat and Nick & Vicki, having teamed up together on the streets of St. Petersburg, arrived at 1 Vladimirskiy Street Tower. Kat and Nick climbed the ladders leading to the tower and then scanned the city with a spectacular 360º view the tower provided to find a hint to their next clue. With their backs turned to the small figurine behind them, the pair didn't pick up on what they needed to find, prompting Nick to say, "Maybe we're overthinking this right now." With the arrival of Michael & Kevin and Brook & Claire, who had to wait for an opportunity to climb the tower, Nick turned around and noticed the small replica of the Church on Spilled Blood behind him. He quickly put the pieces together that they had to go to the identical building they could see in the far distance of the landscape. Descending the tower, Nick decided to mislead Michael & Kevin and Brook & Claire by saying they only saw something that said "DS13". Kevin thanked Nick for the information, saying, "I don't think Nick would lie to us because he's awesome." However, Kevin realized he was mistaken about Nick after Kevin and Claire discovered the figurine on the ledge of the tower. Running back to the street, both Brook & Claire and Michael & Kevin failed to read their clue carefully and jumped into taxis rather than continue on foot to the church.
Arriving at the Church on Spilled Blood on foot, doctors Nat & Kat and dating couple Nick & Vicki opened their next clue instructing them to solve the riddle of where Peter the Great is buried, Peter and Paul Fortress, and travel there next. As Nat & Kat and Nick & Vicki asked nearby locals for help in solving their clue, Brook & Claire and Michael & Kevin pulled up to the church in taxis. Nick noticed the two teams exiting their taxis and Kat said, "They'll be penalized." Running past Nick, Kevin called him out about the tower, saying, "You guys lied to us?" Nick responded vaguely that he was just here looking, prompting Kevin to believe that Nick lied to him again. After getting his clue, Kevin said, "We want to beat them [Nick & Vicki] now. We want to say, ‘Lying's not going to help you.'"
As Nat & Kat and Nick & Vicki, who had some trouble in finding a taxi, headed to Peter and Paul Fortress, Brook & Claire finally noticed in their clue that they should have run from the tower to the Church on Spilled Blood. The home shopping hosts directed their taxi to return to the tower so they could correct their mistake while the oblivious Michael & Kevin continued towards the fortress unaware they had made a second crucial error. Brook later said, "We had no choice. Even if we wanted to help them [Michael & Kevin] it would have been extremely difficult." Right after Brook & Claire started their run from the tower to the church, last place Chad & Stephanie finally noticed the figurine on the ledge and exited 1 Vladimirskiy Street only to make the same mistake of jumping into a taxi.
ON THE COURT
Arriving at Peter and Paul Fortress in first place, doctors Nat & Kat ran to the gorodki courts to find a Roadblock. In it, one team member had to master the Russian game known as gorodki. Using a wooden bat, teams had two tries to clear all the pins before they're reset just like in American bowling. If they succeeded, they could move on to another pin formation. Once they cleared three different pin formations, they would receive their next clue.
Kat stepped onto the gorodki court, picked up a wooden bat, and promptly cleared the first formation in two tries as Nat marveled, "You nailed that first one. It was awesome." After Kat cleared the second formation with ease, Michael elected to perform the Roadblock for his team as son Kevin cheered him on. While Kat made gorodki look easy, Michael struggled to even hit any pins when he launched the wooden bat. Kevin suggested, "You need to use a little more strength."
As Brook joined Michael on the gorodki courts, Kat nailed her third formation and opened the next clue with Nat instructing the doctors to make their way inside the Peter and Paul Fortress and search for the Pit Stop at a bastion. Nat & Kat quickly found Phil inside the fortress and claimed their third victory of the race along with $5,000 each. On their outstanding performance thus far in the race, Nat said, "It's too late. We can't take the target off so now we just better stay in front."
With Brook clearing all three formations to lead her and Claire to a second place finish, Michael still struggled to even clear the pins on the first formation causing Kevin to become increasingly frustrated with his father's performance. As Nick and Stephanie now took to the courts, Kevin's anxiety rose further as he told Michael, "I'm begging you to finish this. We're gonna get last ‘cause of this." Once Nick cleared the third formation to give him and Vicki a third place finish for the leg, Thomas and Gary arrived at the courts and easily mastered the technique of gorodki to pass both Michael and Stephanie.
As Gary & Mallory stepped on the mat in fourth place and Jill & Thomas went to settle with their taxi en route to fifth place, only Michael and Stephanie remained on the gorodki courts in a battle to avoid elimination. With their anxious partners looking on, Michael and Stephanie both advanced to the third and final formation. While Stephanie now struggled to land her shot squarely on the pins, Michael finally mastered the game and cleared the formation. As the father and son ran off, Stephanie continued to miss the pins and joked, "It's like I'm trying to avoid it."
Watching Kevin & Michael run towards the Pit Stop, Stephanie told Chad, "I'm trying to focus. I'm trying to be positive in my head." On her next shot, Stephanie cleared the formation and the dating couple ran towards the Pit Stop deciding to ditch their bags in an attempt to overtake the father and son. The dating couple believed the tactic paid off when they stepped on the mat ahead of Michael & Kevin. However, Phil told Chad & Stephanie he couldn't check them in until they settled the bill with their taxi driver and turned them away.
Waiting in the wings, a relieved Michael & Kevin stepped onto the mat thinking they now had narrowly escaped defeat, but their happiness turned to shock when Phil informed them that they broke two rules: hiring a taxi to lead them to the tower and taking a taxi from the tower to the Church on Spilled Blood. Each mistake would cost them 30 minutes, resulting in a one-hour penalty. As the father and son waited alongside the mat, Chad & Stephanie returned having settled with their taxi driver. Phil then informed the dating couple that they had broken a rule by taking a taxi from the tower to the church resulting in a 30-minute penalty. However, since Michael & Kevin were waiting out an hour penalty, Chad & Stephanie finished the day in sixth place. In tears, Stephanie said, "I'm sorry. I thought I lost it for us today."
Returning to the mat, Michael & Kevin received the bad news from Phil that they had been eliminated from the race. Kevin said, "I'm really proud of my dad for doing this race with me. He's always been my role model. I'm learning every day to not get frustrated and to be positive towards each other." Michael added, "I know my son a lot better than before the race. I think this race kind of pulled us together again. I'm really proud of him."