Eleven teams began their quest for the million dollar prize in Salta, Argentina, where army wife and combat pilot Rachel & Dave won the Express Pass and sisters Misa & Maiya were eliminated in dramatic fashion.
READY... In Santa Barbara, California, eleven teams of two formed a peloton behind Phil Keoghan as the host led them by bicycle to the starting line at one of the city's idyllic vineyards. The crop of teams, anxiously waiting to begin their chance to win the one million dollar prize, included married clowns who believe the good karma they put out into the world would come back to them, lifelong friends from Kentucky trying to help their families, a pair of border patrol agents, a professional soccer player and his rocker twin brother, an Iraq War combat pilot and his wife trying to reconnect in their marriage, a professional golfer and her sister, a pair of federal agents, and former Big Brother More...houseguests Brendon & Rachel who announced, "Nobody comes between me and my million dollars."
SET... After welcoming the teams, Phil explained that they were about to embark on a "physically grueling, mentally draining, life changing adventure." As always, the team who won the first leg would be awarded the Express Pass, allowing them to skip any task before the end of the eighth leg. Before his famous eyebrow raise, Phil directed teams to look in the distance where the first clue waited up in the air...literally. One hundred red and yellow balloons floated above the sprawling vineyard, but only eleven had a clue in the basket hanging off each balloon. After finding the clue, teams could get into a new Ford Taurus and begin their race around the world.
GO! With the drop of Phil's arm, the eleven teams ran up a dusty hill into the massive vineyard and began to pull down balloons in search of their clue. Twins Elliot & Andrew, trainer and club promoter Joey "Fitness" & Danny, and best friends Bopper & Mark all found empty baskets in their first balloons as did army wife and combat pilot Rachel & Dave. However, on their second attempt, Elliot & Andrew and Joey "Fitness" & Danny, along with dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph all found their clue, instructing them to fly to Santa Barbara. The astute federal agents Nary & Jamie, after reading their clue, became confused because they knew they were already in Santa Barbara. Once teams reached their cars, Phil popped up on the screen inside to solve the mystery informing them they were headed to Santa Barbara, Argentina. From LAX, all teams would fly to Buenos Aires where the first six teams would get tickets on the fastest connecting flight to Salta, the closest airport to Santa Barbara.
NOT GIVING UP One by one, teams left the vineyards with clues in hand until only best friends Bopper & Mark and sisters Misa & Maiya remained. Now, with only two clues among the one hundred balloons, both teams ran up and down the rows of the vineyard, becoming exhausted from the hills and distance between each balloon. Calling the task "grueling," Mark even doubled over in pain and threw up before continuing with Bopper. Eventually, the best friends found a clue as Bopper shouted, "Let's go win that money baby!" Mark's upset stomach continued in the car ride to LAX, but Bopper would not pull over to help his friend. Instead, when Bopper stopped at a red light, Mark put his head out the window and threw up on the road. Bopper explained, "When you got loot on the line, you pee your pants if you have to."
With one hour and 45 minutes elapsed since the start of the race, sisters Misa & Maiya still had not found the last clue in the vineyard. While initially running, the sisters now slowed to a walk as Misa explained, "This is so physically draining, but we have heart so we're not going to give up." The sisters squealed with delight and relief when they finally pulled down the lucky balloon with their clue, asking themselves, "How did we miss that?"
WELCOME TO ARGENTINA Landing in Salta, Argentina on the first flight, twins Elliot & Andrew, PhD student and event hostess Brendon & Rachel, federal agents Nary & Jamie, border patrol agents Art & JJ, army wife and combat pilot Rachel & Dave, and dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph all raced out of the airport, jumped into vehicles, and drove to the tiny town of Santa Barbara where the next clue sat in a flower basket just below the sign marking the city limits. Border patrol agents Art & JJ led the pack of six teams as they ripped open the clue instructing them to drive to the Aerodromo Gilberto Lavaque in Cafayate, Argentina.
As the lead six teams headed to Cafayate, the second plane landed in Salta where Joey "Fitness" & Danny took the early lead out of the airport followed by Bopper & Mark, Misa & Maiya, and Kerri & Stacy all traveling in a close pack. In last place, married clowns Dave & Cherie had a slow start leaving the airport when Dave needed to become familiar with driving stick shift. Lurching forward and finally finding the right gear, the clown realized all the other teams were now well ahead of them, causing a worried Cherie to well up with emotion that she (naturally) described as "tears of a clown."
FREE FALLING Arriving at the Aerodromo Gilberto Lavaque, a small airport, the lead six teams ran to the cluebox to find the first Roadblock of the race. In it, one team member had to use their sense of direction and search by car for their partner, who had to take a terrifying 10,000-foot skydive. Once both team members are reunited, the jump master would hand them the next clue.
As Brendon, Art, and Dave quickly looked at maps marking the landing zone to begin driving towards it, both Rachels and JJ suited up and boarded the first plane taking them up to 10,000-feet. A visibly nervous JJ said, "This goes against all laws of nature." Finding the landing zone with no problems, Brendon, Art, and JJ spotted the plane high above them and waited for their partners to jump. Up at 10,000-feet the door of the plane opened revealing just how high both Rachels and JJ would be jumping from. Rachel (of Rachel & Dave) said, "No turning back now, JJ."
With an instructor strapped on his back for the tandem jump, JJ leapt from the plane and screamed as he plummeted towards Earth in a freefall. When his chute finally opened, a relieved JJ shouted, "Oh thank God!" When event hostess Rachel took the plunge, she later commented, "It was so beautiful. The Argentinean countryside is amazing." Meanwhile, army wife Rachel simply said, "Skydiving is the biggest rush I've ever had." With adrenaline coursing through them, the three brave skydivers reunited with solid ground and their partners as they ripped opened their clues instructing them to drive to Patios de Cafayate.
FACING HER FEARS After Nary, Vanessa, and Elliot took the thrilling plunge, teams from the second flight began arriving at Aerodromo Gilberto Lavaque. While Joey "Fitness", circus clown Dave, Misa, and Mark all understood, with varying degrees of excitement, that they would skydive, cousins Kerri & Stacy got fooled by the wording of the clue. Acutely afraid of heights, Stacy thought she avoided the jump by having Kerri perform the Roadblock. However, once Stacy realized she would be the one jumping, she said, "To say my heart went into my gut was an understatement." Stacy's crippling fear certainly did not lessen any as she ascended to 10,000-feet. The mother of two began thinking about what would happen to her and her family if her parachute did not open and she said, "I can't do this." However, thinking further, Stacy wanted to set an example for her kids and face her fear head on instead of running away. Mustering all her courage, Stacy jumped from the plane and had a surprising reaction, later saying, "Oh my God, I am flying. It felt so good. It was liberating." To her kids, Stacy said, "If mommy can do this, you can do anything."
MAKING MISTAKES While Stacy faced her problems in the sky, Danny and Maiya had their own set of problems on the ground. Against his mother's advice, Danny did not learn how to drive stick before starting the race, something he quickly regretted. Stalling out as he left the airfield, Danny said, "Mom is always right." Once he got his truck moving, Danny then battled his poor navigating skills as he turned down a wrong road while partner Joey "Fitness" waited at the landing site after completing his jump. Meanwhile, Maiya appeared poised to easily meet up with her sister until she turned off the road into sand so soft that the wheels of her truck got buried in it. While Misa waited at the landing site after jumping, Maiya needed to flag down a passing truck to help pull her truck out of the sand. This costly turn off the road put the sisters in last place once Maiya finally reunited with Misa.
BATTLING IT OUT Arriving at Patios de Cafayate in a battle for first place, Art & JJ, Brendon & Rachel, and Rachel & Dave ripped open their clue informing the teams they now had to compete in an empanada making contest by making 60 meat filled empanadas and 60 filled with cheese. At an ongoing demonstration, teams needed to figure out that there are specific dough crimping patterns for each type. When the empanada champion approved all 120 empanadas, teams could race to the Pit Stop on the grounds nearby.
With the Express Pass on the line, Art & JJ carelessly rushed off to begin making empanadas without taking careful notes at the demonstration. Meanwhile, Brendon & Rachel and Rachel & Dave both keyed into the different techniques, a twisting one for the meat filled empanadas and a pinching technique for the cheese filled empanadas. Because of their inattention to detail, Art & JJ quickly surrendered the small lead they had on the other two teams when the empanada champion rejected the work of the border patrol agents. Returning to the demonstration table, a frustrated Art & JJ realized their mistake and started over, trying to gain back the lost time.
TAKING FIRST As a traditional Argentinean band and dancers performed around them, Brendon & Rachel and Rachel & Dave became locked in a close battle for first place and the Express Pass. Although the PhD student and event hostess reached 120 empanadas first, they had several rejected by the empanada champion, allowing the army wife and combat pilot the opportunity they needed to jump ahead. After getting approval from the champion, Rachel & Dave cheered as they found Phil on the mat to win the Express Pass edging out Brendon & Rachel who finished mere minutes behind them. Border patrol agents Art & JJ settled for third place, federal agents Nary & Jamie took fourth, dating divorcees Vanessa & Ralph fifth, and twins Elliot & Andrew ended in sixth.
MAKING A COMEBACK Arriving at Patios de Cafayate in last place, sisters Misa & Maiya hoped to gain enough ground in empanada making to overtake at least one team and stay in the race. It soon became crystal clear which team the sisters, whose skills making Japanese wonton translated very well to empanada making, could beat: Joey "Fitness" and Danny. Club promoter Danny, who admitted to mostly eating out, had limited abilities in making empanadas and his fingers continually fumbled the dough. Joey "Fitness" tried to encourage his partner saying, "I'm confident in Danny's skills." However, Joey "Fitness" also felt the pressure after watching cousins Kerri & Stacy and married clowns Dave & Cherie finish in seventh and eighth place, later saying, "That was one of the worst feelings. They're freaking clowns."
WHERE'S PHIL? With best friends Bopper & Mark finishing in ninth place, the race came down to sisters Misa & Maiya and trainer & club promoter Joey "Fitness" & Danny. After their rocky start in the vineyards, it appears that Misa & Maiya would be the comeback kids when they finished their empanadas ahead of Joey "Fitness" & Danny. However, the sisters had to retrieve their bags from the car before finding Phil on the mat, giving Joey "Fitness" & Danny some extra time. After getting their bags, Misa & Maiya walked out behind Patios de Cafayate and quickly scanned the grounds, but did not see Phil, who very clearly stood off to their right. Instead of running to Phil, the sisters bolted in the other direction - back to the vehicles out front. A confused Phil asked, "Where'd they go?" While the sisters blindly roamed around, Joey "Fitness" & Danny completed their last empanadas, picked up their bags sitting right beside them, and ran directly to the mat to steal away tenth place.
Finally seeing Phil and realizing they simply overlooked him before, sisters Misa & Maiya stepped on the mat in last place and became the first team eliminated from the Race. A stunned Misa told Phil, "I can't believe we made this mistake." Maiya explained away their massive mistake as "tunnel vision," unable to see beyond the few feet in front of them. A tearful Misa later added, "It's just beyond disappointing that we're gonna go out like this." Maiya added, "We've proven that we have a lot of heart, but it's just the hardest thing knowing that sometimes that's not enough."
2001 ROUTE MARKERS
Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only person can perform. In this Roadblock, that person had to use their sense of direction and search by car for their partner who had to take a terrifying 10,000-foot skydive. Once both team members reunited, the jump master would have them the next clue.
Performed Roadblock: Art, Dave, Ralph, Brendon, Andrew, Jamie, Cherie, Kerri, Danny, Maiya, Bopper
Detour: N/A Order of Finish: 1. Rachel & Dave 2. Brendon & Rachel 3. Art & JJ 4. Nary & Jamie 5. Vanessa & Ralph 6. Elliot & Andrew 7. Kerri & Stacy 8. Dave & Cherie 9. Bopper & Mark 10. Joey "Fitness" & Danny 11. Misa & Maiya ...