|Posted on Mar 3, 2014 12:00am|
FORGOTTEN BAG SINKS TEAM KENTUCKY
A wild leg in Guangzhou where cowboys Jet & Cord gave an Express Pass to country singers Caroline & Jennifer ended in heartbreak for Team Kentucky Mark & Mallory.
FIRST TO LAST
Cowboys Jet & Cord departed the Pit Stop in first place at 8:16am heading to the Chen Clan Academy where they had to stand still in front of the master to receive their next clue. While the brothers loved winning an Express Pass for themselves in the last leg, they weren’t thrilled about deciding the who, where, and when of handing the second Express Pass to another team, even calling the task “a headache.” However, the cowboys’ more immediate problem was finding directions to the academy. After misunderstanding a local’s explanation of the considerable walking distance (50 minutes), Jet & Cord sprinted off anticipating a fifteen-minute jog. As they continued their run, the cowboys stopped another local man who tried to tell them the academy was far away, but once again they left the conversation believing they could simply run. By the time Jet & Cord finally asked a taxi to take them to the academy, the remaining nine teams had all started the leg and passed the slow starting cowboys.
MEETING THE MASTER
After taking the metro (with father and son Dave & Connor), married couple Brendon & Rachel emerged from the underground and immediately spotted dozens of young martial arts students in yellow uniforms receiving instruction from their master wearing a red sash. Seeing the students all move perfectly in unison, Rachel marveled, “This is cool.” As the married couple continued watching, suddenly the master lunged towards them opening his palm as if to strike, causing Rachel to flinch. Instead, the master held a stamp in his hand that he pressed onto the foreheads of Brendon & Rachel to leave an ink imprint of their next destination written in Chinese characters. Brenchel’s excitement about having a lead soon turned to panic when they couldn’t find any local who could tell them where they needed to go. As Dave & Connor jumped into a taxi to take the lead, Brendon & Rachel got out of one when the unsure driver hesitated. When Margie & Luke, the Afghanimals, and Team Kentucky Mark & Mallory all appeared at the square, Brendon exclaimed, “Everybody caught up to us! It just sucks, man.” Finally, Brenchel hailed a taxi, frustrated at falling from first to the middle of the pack.
KIDDIE CAR CHAOS
Running into the Eday Town mall in first place, Dave & Connor headed for the play park where toddlers and kids enjoyed all the rides, games, and activities offered as the father and son discovered a Roadblock. The region around Guangzhou is the world’s capital of toy making. In this Roadblock, teams had to build a kiddie car and make it road ready. With five kids and seven grandchildren, Dave felt confident as he picked up the large cardboard box containing all the parts of the motorized car he needed to construct. However, once he took inventory of the dozens of small parts with only an instruction manual written in Chinese to help him, Dave realized, “This is going to be a challenge.” With Margie, Jamal, Brendon, Mark, Flight Time, Meghan, and John all joining Dave building cars, everyone began to wonder what happened to the cowboys. By the time Jet & Cord finally jumped out of their taxi and ran to the square at Chen Clan Academy, they saw last place country singers Caroline & Jennifer receiving the stamp on their foreheads from the master. Stunned at their reversal of fortune, Jet gasped, “Holy cow. First to last.” While the country singers were excited to be ahead of one team, their enthusiasm was short lived because the cowboys found a cab ahead of them, putting the country singers back into last place. Knowing they had ground to make up, Jet told his brother, “That’s the way this race goes. You go from first to last in a hurry.” In addition to the indecipherable instructions and many toy car parts, teams had to contend with a much cuter distraction: the kids. Margie admitted difficulties trying to focus as kids loudly blew horns and hit her with rubber toys, but she couldn’t’ help but still find the children entirely adorable. While Rachel squealed with delight watching husband Brendon interact with the curious children and imagining what a future with Brenchel babies would be like, Flight Time faced a powerful nemesis in pigtails who just wouldn’t leave him alone. The girl told Flight Time she would complain about him, laughed at him and commented on how much he was sweating, prompting the flustered Globetrotter to reply, “You’re killing me, girl.”
KENTUCKY ON TOP
While most racers let the distractions slow them down, Kentuckian Mark powered through the task like a champ. Having bought his son a similar car, Mark quickly attached the wheels and hubcaps, saying, “Just like baby bear’s soup.” Adding on taillights, adjusting nuts and bolts, and making sure the headlights lit up when he turned the ignition, Mark (after arriving in fifth place), finished his car first as a supportive Margie cheered, “Way to go, Mark!” A surprised Mallory had a big smile on her face as she congratulated her partner walking towards her carrying the completed car. Just as the cowboys arrived in ninth place, Team Kentucky ripped open their clue instructing them to take a taxi to deliver their toy car fully assembled to the students of the Children’s Cultural Center. Taking a packing kit that included rope to secure the car onto a taxi, Mark & Mallory ran outside, Mark holding the giant toy car and Mallory carrying both backpacks. Once the team flagged down a taxi driver, Mark loaded the car as far into the trunk as it could fit and tied the rope around tightly to hold the precious cargo in place. With last place country singers Caroline & Jennifer pulling up to the mall and second place Margie & Luke hailing a taxi of their own, Mark shouted for Mallory to hurry into their taxi and in the confusion Mark’s backpack remained on the ground as they rode off.
EXPRESS PASS PLEA
With Dave and Jamal completing their cars, Caroline reluctantly agreed to perform the Roadblock when Jennifer insisted. Dragging the large box of car parts to her work area, Caroline told Jennifer, “I’m really upset about this. I hate assembling more than anything in the whole world.” Jennifer tried her best to encourage Caroline, but nothing seemed to work as Caroline got more flustered and confused looking at all the parts scattered around her. Standing next to Cord, who was watching his brother Jet quickly assemble his car, Jennifer blurted out, “Can I have the Express Pass?” Cord initially laughed and told Jennifer he couldn’t make the decision without Jet, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer, increasing the urgency in her pleas. Jennifer offered to keep the handoff a secret to the other teams. Cord just laughed. The self-deprecating Jennifer then called her and Caroline the worst team, making them an ideal candidate for the Express Pass instead of the cowboys helping out a strong team. Watching Brendon & Rachel leave in fifth place, Jennifer told Cord, “I think we’re going home today. She’s [Caroline’s] freaking out.” In a final attempt, Jennifer took a more personal tact, asking, “Do you like anybody more than you like us?” Cord laughed again.
When Jet finished his car in sixth place, passing Flight Time, Meghan, and John, he ran over to his brother and the two cowboys quickly conferred on whether to hand the Express Pass to Caroline & Jennifer after Jennifer made her plea to Jet. Just as Flight Time completed his car in seventh place, cowboys Jet & Cord handed the second Express Pass to Jennifer who rushed over to Caroline to bail her friend out. Knowing the cowboys saved her from elimination, Caroline later said, “We are calling the cowboys our John Wayne.” The cowboys felt comfortable with their decision because now they possessed the only Express Pass left in the race. Jet added, “The other one has already been burnt on leg two. That was huge right there.” In the blink of an eye, Youtube hosts Joey & Meghan and engaged couple Jessica & John went from being in the middle of the pack to fighting for last place at the Roadblock. Seeing the country singers charm the Express Pass from the cowboys, Joey told Jessica, “The blondes literally can’t do anything on their own.” Meghan sniped, “Must be nice to have that color hair and have everything handed to you. Playing that ‘I’m weak’ card is just a slap in the face for all girls.”
On the way to the Children’s Cultural Center, Team Kentucky Mark & Mallory finally noticed they left Mark’s bag behind at the mall. While Mallory held Mark’s passport in her pouch, about the backpack she told him, “I thought you had it.” Mark replied, “No, I had the car!” After delivering the toy car to the excited children at the cultural center, Mark & Mallory opened their next clue, a Detour having to choose between Featherball and China Cup. Featherball is China’s version of hacky sack. Teams had to join a team to make ten passes of a shuttlecock. China Cup gave teams the opportunity to receive a traditional Chinese therapy used to stimulate blood flow and remove toxins. While Team Kentucky chose Featherball, their more immediate decision concerned Mark’s bag. Do they go back for it or keep moving forward? Mark had no question in his mind and told the taxi driver to take them back to the mall for his backpack. Mallory immediately protested, suggesting they perform the Detour before making any decision about the bag. Mallory even thought that maybe another team would pick the bag up and hand it to them, a scenario Mark thought unlikely. Finally, Mallory told Mark her opinion, saying, “We could’ve left it. I have your passport.” Mark responded that he needed the car sickness medicine and clothes in his bag. Mallory let out a long sigh, and conceded with a warning, “This is going to cost us the whole race.” As Team Kentucky headed back to the mall, the tension between them escalated as they continued to disagree about the bag. While Mallory insisted the forgotten bag wasn’t her fault, Mark questioned what she was doing if he was carrying the car. Then, when the topic changed to clothes, Mallory said, “I would wear the same outfit for 23 days to keep racing.” When Mark told Mallory the bag wasn’t even his, she groaned, “I will buy you another backpack!” Mark later commented, “I don’t have the means she has. I’m not nothing to her.” From her perspective, Mallory later said, “I guess it just shows that some things matter more to some people.”
Nearly an hour after beginning the Roadblock, John and Meghan still struggled to put the proper finishing touches on their cars to make them operational. Meghan was nearer to completion, but a small wiring problem held her back. Finally, after a few more adjustment, Meghan turned the key and her car lurched forward with all its lights on. As soon as she received her clue, Meghan immediately ran over to a perplexed John to offer aid while a grateful Jessica hugged Joey. After being in an alliance together the first time they ran the race, the two teams clearly still had a bond in this one. With Meghan’s help, John identified and corrected the problems of his car within minutes after the Youtube hosts departed. Just as the engaged couple ran out of mall in last place, Team Kentucky returned and scooped up the lost bag, hoping this decision wouldn’t eliminate them.
With all ten teams choosing Featherball, a showdown of athleticism and coordination skills at Linwanhu Park would decide the outcome of the leg. Mother and son Margie & Luke and father and son Dave & Connor arrived first and learned the rules of featherball. Teams could use any part of their body except for arms and hands to pass the shuttlecock to their teammate or the other two local players that comprised their foursome. Teams needed 10 kicks to earn their clue, but only kicks by the two racers counted in the tally. Even with experience playing soccer as a kid, Connor called featherball “a struggle” while Margie & Luke could barely make two kicks between them.
FEELING THE PRESSURE
Just after the Afghanimals, the cowboys, the country singers, the Brenchels, and the Globetrotters all descended onto the park, Mark & Mallory reached the entrance still fighting with each other. When Mark tried to slow the frantic Mallory down, she snapped, “If you say one more thing to me, Mark. We went back and got the backpack.” Telling Mallory she was getting upset for no reason, Mark added, “People from Kentucky don’t act this way.” A stunned Mallory replied, “I can’t believe you just sold me out like that. That’s really surprising.” Trying to put their disagreement aside, Mark & Mallory began kicking the shuttlecock between them, but Team Kentucky had problems right off the bat trying to master the technique. Each time they would get a small rally going, one of them would make a mistake with an errant kick sending the shuttlecock out of play. Soon, the tension mounted again for Team Kentucky when Dave & Connor reached ten kicks first and opened their clue sending them to the Pit Stop at a promenade on Shamian Island. Then, Caroline & Jennifer and Margie & Luke made ten passes between them followed very soon by Jet & Cord, Brendon & Rachel, Flight Time & Big Easy, and Leo & Jamal. Now only Mark & Mallory remained until ninth place Joey & Meghan arrived at the park, prompting Mark to say, “We gotta go!” With last place Jessica & John running into the park moments later, Mark groaned when Mallory again missed a pass kicked to her.
With seven teams in taxis all headed to Shamian Island, an epic race for first place started to take shape. Although Dave & Connor and the country singers had a small lead exiting their taxis on the island, neither teams could quickly find the promenade allowing the other five teams a chance to catch them. Margie & Luke and Brendon & Rachel saw the Pit Stop first and took off sprinting. Initially Rachel lagged behind because she and Brendon weren’t racing for last, but after Brendon told her they could be racing for first, she sped up and passed Margie & Luke to step on the mat with Brendon, ahead of the mother and son. When Phil told Rachel that she and Brendon won the leg and $2,500 each, she screamed in shock and excitement, telling Phil, “That’s the first time we’ve ever won a leg ever!” Their win meant Margie & Luke finished in second place. Then, the unprecedented pile-up began. Caroline & Jennifer joined the Brenchels and Margie & Luke on the mat where Caroline credited Jennifer for getting the Express Pass from the cowboys. Moments later, when father and son Dave & Connor (4th place) and Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time & Big Easy (5th place) joined the party on the crowded mat, Phil initially was confused on the teams’ placement. Then, Jet & Cord (6th place) and Leo & Jamal (7th place) squeezed onto the mat for a record seven teams to win together!
NO HARD FEELINGS
At Linwanhu Park, Mark & Mallory appeared poised to earn their clue when they reached as many as eight kicks while Joey & Meghan and Jessica & John barely made three. After another attempt reached five and ended with Mallory’s mishit of the shuttlecock, she took a deep breath as Mark looked frustrated. However, time ran out for Team Kentucky. With each attempt, Joey & Meghan and Jessica & John started showing signs of significant improvement until they both reached ten hits within moments of one another, leaving Mark & Mallory alone in the park in last place. With Jessica & John edging out Joey & Meghan in a footrace for eighth place, Mark & Mallory finally reached the milestone of ten kicks and arrived at Shamian Island in last place where the other nine teams stood waiting behind Phil. When Phil told Team Kentucky they had been eliminated from the race, Mark told him, “I appreciated the opportunity. Bopper will understand. I ain’t gonna have to hard feelings about nothing.” He later added, “I guess it wasn’t meant for me to travel around the world without Bopper.” An emotional Mallory told Phil, “Thank you for trying to let me fill his [Bopper’s] shoes. I’m sorry that I couldn’t.” Before walking away to the applause from the other teams, Mark said, “God’s got a plan for us all. He’s got another plan for me. I wish my buddy would’ve been here though.”
2402 ROUTE MARKERS
Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only one team member can perform. The region around Guangzhou is the world’s capital of toy making. In this Roadblock, teams had to build a kiddie car making it road ready. Performed Roadblock: Dave, Mark, Margie, Flight Time, Jamal, Brendon, Meghan, John, Jet, Caroline Detour: A Detour is a choice between two tasks. In this Detour teams had to choose between Featherball and China Cup. Featherball is China’s version of hacky sack. Teams had to join a team to make ten passes of a shuttlecock. China Cup gave teams the opportunity to receive a traditional Chinese therapy used to stimulate blood flow and remove toxins.
Featherball: Brendon/Rachel, Margie/Luke, Caroline/Jennifer, Dave/Connor, Flight Time/Big Easy, Jet/Cord, Leo/Jamal, Jessica/John, Joey/Meghan, Mark/Mallory
Express Pass: Caroline used the Express Pass at the Roadblock
Order of Finish: 1. Brendon & Rachel 2. Margie & Luke 3. Caroline & Jennifer 4. Dave & Connor 5. Flight Time & Big Easy 6. Jet & Cord 7. Leo & Jamal 8. Jessica & John 9. Joey & Meghan 10. Mark & Mallory