Eleven new teams gathered at the starting line on the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, California where host Phil Keoghan informed them the stakes for winning The Amazing Race were bigger than ever before. With 12 legs, 9 countries, and over 25,000 miles ahead of them in a truly incredible journey, for the first time ever one team could walk away with $2 million. With the excited racers gasping and cheering, Phil explained that if a team won the first leg and the last leg of the Race, they would double their money and win $2 million. Phil warned the teams that the Race would literally start the moment they stepped off the starting line because between them and their first clue was a 10-story rappel off the bridge to their backpacks below. After wishing them safe travels and adding, as always, "The world is waiting", Phil lowered his hand to signal the start of the Race.
A LONG WAY DOWN
The eleven teams sprinted past Phil and ran to the middle of the expansive Colorado Street Bridge. After putting on a harness and helmet, Brittany announced, "I'm a little scared of heights." Chippendale James noted, "That is a long way down there." Texas dating couple Trey & Lexi were the first to take the big step off the side of the bridge and begin their rappel to the ground 10-stories below followed by Midwest best friends Caitlin & Brittany, goat farmers Josh & Brent, and Chippendales Jaymes & James. The four teams battled each other in a thrilling descent that ended with Josh & Brent touching the ground first. However, it was Chippendales Jaymes & James who reached their backpacks in the lead and anxiously ripped open their clue sending them to Shanghai, China.
FIGHT FOR FLIGHTS
Jumping into all new Ford Escapes, teams discovered from a video message that they could only fly on one of two flights: China Airlines, scheduled to land at 10:50am and EVA Air, scheduled to land at 12:05pm. Only the first 7 teams to the China Airlines ticket counter at LAX could claim seats on the fastest flight. Chippendales Jaymes & James, best friends Caitlin & Brittany, rock star and lawyer James & Abba, on and off dating Amy & Daniel, dating divorcees Abbie & Ryan and twins Natalie & Nadiya claimed the first six spots on the China Airlines, leaving only one place left. Running off the shuttle and entering the terminal together, married monster truckers Rob & Kelley and goat farmers Josh & Brent raced to the China Airlines counter. Just when it appeared that the goat farmers had the married monster truckers beat, Josh allowed Kelley to sneak in front of him under a rope giving her and husband Rob the last tickets on the earlier flight. A disappointed Brent lamented, "Josh was Mr. Nice Guy. We messed up." Josh & Brent joined dating couple Trey & Lexi, substitute teachers Gary & Will, and lumberjack and marketing exec Rob & Sheila on the EVA Air flight scheduled to land 1 hour and 15 minutes later than the China Airlines flight.
Landing in Shanghai, China, the seven teams aboard the China Airlines flight traveled by taxi to the Yuanshen Sports Center Stadium to find a Roadblock. In it, one team member had to play table tennis against a Chinese junior champion and successfully score one point off of the formidable opponent or wait until their next turn as she went from table to table using household items in place of her paddle. While married monster truckers Rob & Kelley circled the stadium grounds searching for the cluebox, Chippendale James, rock star James, Nadiya, Daniel, Abbie, Caitlin all ran into a room lined with rows and rows of ping pong tables, chose one, picked up a paddle, and waited to face their miniature opponent. Upon seeing the unassuming junior champion girl, an overconfident Natalie boasted, "I got this. Piece of cake." Watching his teammate, Chippendale James joked, "Taking down little Chinese kids. This is horrible." Moving from table to table, the expert Chinese junior champion demonstrated her skill with a ping pong paddle as she destroyed each player in her way. From Caitlin's mishit to rock star James watching the ball wiz by him, no racer scored a point off the champion in the first round of play.
When the champion pulled out a clipboard to use in the second round, any hope and confidence the racers may have felt quickly faded away as the girl continued to hit shots past her opponents. Chippendale James said, "I got dusted with a clipboard. I'll just sit here and eat my piece of humble pie." Nadiya shouted for her twin, Natalie, to concentrate, adding, "What is wrong with you?" Caitlin simply laughed when the champion smashed the ball past her while Daniel noted, "She had some mad skills." The only two racers to escape the round were Abbie and rock star James who both returned the serve and forced the champion into hitting errant shots that sailed long of the table. Abbie & Ryan and Abba & James both ripped open their clues instructing them to travel to Cui Ping Jiu Jia Restaurant. With each successive round, the junior champion pulled out increasingly odd and difficult items to use as her paddle from a frying pan to a tambourine. Eventually, Chippendale James, Caitlin, and Daniel all scored a point leaving a thoroughly frustrated Natalie along with monster trucker Kelley. From the sidelines, Nadiya offered up her critique of what she thought Natalie was doing wrong, adding, "Just slam it!" Not wanting the advice, Natalie snapped back, "Be motivational. Shut up!" Finally, when the champion used a small pencil case as a paddle, Natalie finally scored a point and cheered wildly at her success. Right behind the twins, Kelley needed the champion to use an Amazing Race clue envelope as a paddle for her to win her point.
Just outside the front of Cui Ping Jiu Jia Restaurant, rock star and lawyer James & Abba ripped open their clue to find a second Roadblock, this one to be performed by the person who didn't play table tennis. In this Roadblock, that person had to eat a traditional Chinese dessert called hasma, the fallopian tubes of a frog, served in two carved out bowls of papaya. Teams could only eat the chewy tubes with chopsticks and couldn't pick up the plate or papaya bowl to help them. Walking into the restaurant, Abba sat down at a table and groaned as he lifted the lid off a papaya bowl to reveal the small, white gooey tubes he described as "overcooked macaroni." Almost immediately, Abba realized that using chopsticks wouldn't be helpful because of the hasma's viscous, jelly consistency so, since he couldn't use his hands to lift the bowl and drink it down, he leaned over into it and began to slurp up the dessert. Just as Ryan, Amy, and Brittany sat down to eat their servings of hasma, Abba cleaned up both of his bowls and ripped open the next clue with rock star James sending them to The Bund to find the woman using an abacus.
A SECOND SERVING
With the EVA Air flight finally landing in Shanghai and Ryan, Amy, Brittany, Chippendale Jaymes, and Nadiya all leaving the restaurant with stomachs full of hasma, monster trucker Rob sat down at the table and dug into his papaya bowls of the warm delicacy. After the first bite, Rob knew he wanted to get through the healthy sized serving as quickly as possible, so, unaware of the rule, he picked up the papaya and shoveled the fallopian tubes down his throat in a matter of seconds. When he finished eating the second papaya bowl in the same way, he confidently rose from his chair, gloating, "That's what I'm talking about. Where's my clue?" When no yellow and black envelope appeared, Rob & Kelley reread the clue and realized he couldn't use his hands. When the waitress brought out another pair of papaya bowls filled with hasma, Rob instantly said, "I ain't eating two more." With all four teams from the later EVA Air flight on the way to the restaurant after defeating the junior champion at table tennis, Rob sat back down, opened the papaya bowls, and began slurping the hasma using his chopsticks. Watching her husband, Kelley noted, "Next time we will read everything. At least you have an acquired taste now." After a large burp, Rob finished his entire plate just as dating couple Trey & Lexi entered the restaurant.
ON THE BUND
One by one, teams arrived at the Bund, a sprawling walkway along the Huangpu River that offered stunning views of Shanghai's impressive skyline. After having the lead through both Roadblocks, rock star and lawyer James & Abba walked right past the woman dressed in bright red holding an abacus. Dating divorcees Abbie & Ryan, Chippendales Jaymes & James, and best friends Caitlin & Brittany also failed to notice the woman sitting under a bright red umbrellas. However, on and off dating couple Amy & Daniel spotted the lady with the abacus instantly and ran over to grab their clue instructing them to find the Pit Stop on foot at the Bund Observatory, a 100-year old signal tower. With a chance at two million dollars now in their grasp, Amy & Daniel asked a local man for directions to the Bund Observatory. As the couple waited for the man to check his smart phone, Abbie & Ryan spotted them and asked where they found the woman with the abacus. Without hesitation, Amy & Daniel pointed the dating divorcees in the right direction before beginning their run towards the Bund Observatory. After reaching the woman with the abacus, the very athletic Ryan told Abbie, "This is our time to shine. We're gonna catch them."
RACE FOR $2 MILLION
Double amputee Amy ran as fast as she could with Daniel by her side, but Abbie & Ryan quickly gained ground on the couple in front of them. Slowing to a brisk walk, Daniel told Amy, "I'm so proud of you, babe. We got a team behind us." Sprinting past Amy & Daniel, Ryan told the couple, "Sorry guys, this is for two million." Watching the dating divorcees now extend their lead to the observatory, a stunned Amy said, "We told them where it was at." Running up the tower of the Bund Observatory to where Phil stood waiting, dating divorcees Abbie & Ryan stepped on the mat in first place and now had a chance to win two million dollars if they won the final leg of the race. Arriving on the mat moments later, Amy & Daniel settled for second place, saying, "If we hadn't given up the clue, we could've…had the chance for the two mil. But that's just the kind of people we are." On how he and Abbie won the leg, Ryan later remarked, "I see Amy as more of a threat than any other woman or man running this race right now. When we can pass them, I have to take advantage of that."
FEELING THE PRESSURE
Even though they reached the Bund in second place, Chippendales Jaymes & James slowly watched their lead evaporate through mistakes and an inability to find the lady with the abacus. Seeing Caitlin & Brittany sprinting with determination, the Chippendales assumed that the best friends knew where to go and followed them. However, the Chippendales didn't realize that Caitlin & Brittany had already found the abacus lady and were running into the Pit Stop at the observatory. Running up to the mat behind the blonde best friends who just snagged third place, Jaymes shouted to James, "We're wrong! We gotta find the abacus." With twins Natalie & Nadiya taking fourth place, monster truckers Rob & Kelley finishing fifth, and rock star and lawyer James & Abba settling for sixth place, Chippendales Jaymes & James remained bewildered in their search for the abacus lady. Unsuccessfully using a pair of binoculars, Jaymes asked, "Is she a statue? Is she in the water? I don't know." Feeling the pressure and full of motivation to stay in the race [Jaymes' father is battling cancer while working 50 hours a week], the Chippendales asked substitute teachers Gary & Will if they had found the abacus lady. The substitute teachers lied to the Chippendales, citing a need to keep any edge over strong teams they could, before finding Phil in eighth place right behind goat farmers Josh & Brent.
After walking past the abacus lady several times, lumberjack and marketing exec Rob & Sheila finally spotted her along with dating couple Trey & Lexi leaving Chippendales Jaymes & James in dead last. The younger, more athletic Trey & Lexi ran far ahead of Rob & Sheila who stopped to ask locals for directions to the observatory. Before reaching the Pit Stop, Trey & Lexi crossed paths with the still lost Jaymes & James and directed the grateful Chippendales to the abacus lady before finishing in ninth place. As Rob & Sheila continued to ask for directions and then slowly walk to the Bund Observatory, the desperate and determined Chippendales finally found the lady with the abacus, saying, "If there was ever a time to run, this is it." Seeing the slower Rob & Sheila in the distance ahead of them, Jaymes told James, "We can beat them on foot! Let's go!" Waiting at the top of the observatory, Phil stood in anticipation with Gary & Will and Trey & Lexi as Jaymes & James appeared first out of the stairwell to claim tenth place followed mere seconds later by last place Rob & Sheila. After being eliminated by Phil, Rob said, "In the race, every second counts and today fifteen of them was the difference between us staying and going home." Sheila added, "That's a hard way to lose but my biggest fear coming on the race with Rob was that we may have conflict during the race. I'm really thrilled he's been fabulous. He's the best partner I could've ever chosen to be on the race with."
2101 ROUTE MARKERS
Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only one person can perform. In this Roadblock, that person had to play table tennis against a Chinese junior champion and successfully score one point off of the formidable opponent or wait until their next turn as she went from table to table using household items in place of her paddle.
Performed Roadblock: JAMES, CAITLIN, ABBIE, NATALIE, DANIEL, JAMES, KELLEY, ROB, JOSH, TREY, GARY Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only one person can perform. In this Roadblock, that person had to eat a traditional Chinese dessert called hasma, the fallopian tubes of a frog, served in two carved out bowls of papaya. Teams could only eat the chewy tubes with chopsticks and couldn't pick up the plate or papaya bowl to help them.
Performed Roadblock: ABBA, BRITTANY, RYAN, NADIYA, JAYMES, AMY, ROB, SHEILA, BRENT, LEXI, WILL
Order of Finish: 1. Abbie & Ryan 2. Amy & Daniel 3. Caitlin & Brittany 4. Natalie & Nadiya 5. Rob & Kelley 6. James & Abba 7. Josh & Brent 8. Gary & Will 9. Trey & Lexi 10. Jaymes & James 11. Rob & Sheila ...