The Gladiators Are Here!: A THRILLING FINISH IN ROME
In the Eternal City of Rome, Italy, the Brenchels got their mojo back by winning the leg, and in a thrilling three-team footrace with the Afghanimals and Globetrotters ended in heartbreak for engaged couple Jessica & John.
EVERY SECOND COUNTS
Departing the Pit Stop in first place at 2:41pm, cousins Leo & Jamal ripped open their clue sending them to the Eternal City, Rome, Italy. Once there, they had to search Hadrian’s Bridge for their next clue. With all seven teams on the same Sri Lankan Airlines flight, the true race began the moment the plane touched down in Rome. Engaged couple Jessica & John, cousins Leo & Jamal, newlyweds Brendon & Rachel, and country singer Caroline & Jennifer, who faced a Speed Bump in the leg, all benefited from having seats at the front of the plane. The four teams jumped on the first shuttle from the tarmac to the terminal while the Globetrotters, Cowboys, and Dave & Connor slowly shuffled towards the plane exit from the back. Jessica commented, “It’s good to make up time when you can in the airport. Every second counts.” Jennifer said, “The ten minute lead could be our Speed Bump so that’s really great for us.”
A ROMAN DETOUR
Arriving at Hadrian’s Bridge in first place, engaged couple Jessica & John ripped open their clue to find a Detour having to choose between Gladiator and Charioteer. In Gladiator, teams had to learn the sword skills needed to fight a seasoned gladiator and keep the crowds happy. Once they mastered a series of maneuvers, they would be rewarded with their next clue. Chariot racing was a highlight of Roman sporting events. Charioteer required teams to race chariots by remote control with one team member controlling the turns and the other controlling the speed. Charging around the course, they had to complete five laps before a flame went out to receive their next clue. As Jessica & John jumped into a taxi for Gladiator while Brendon & Rachel and Leo & Jamal headed to Charioteer, Caroline & Jennifer now had to complete their Speed Bump, an extra task they had to perform for coming in last on the last leg. In this Speed Bump, they had to make their way to the Pantheon, pick up an Olivetti typewriter from an antique dealer and then find the building it resembles, the Altare della Patria, known in Rome as the Typewriter. Once they placed the typewriter on a pedestal in perfect alignment with the Altare della Patria, they could continue racing and try to catch up. While the country singers rode in a taxi to the Pantheon, Jessica & John, with the Colosseum serving as their stunning backdrop, donned traditional Roman tunics with leather sandals and met their trainer who handed each of them wooden swords for practice. The trainer went through a sequence of attacks and defenses they would be using when they battled a mighty gladiator for the eager crowds. Boasting his training in martial arts and tae kwon do, John wasn’t at all intimidated by the many steps in the routine, saying, “It came pretty naturally.”
A HORSE RACE
Meanwhile, on the other side of Colosseum, newlyweds Brendon & Rachel, after dressing in Roman togas, ran into a square expecting to see live horses and large chariots ready for racing. Instead, they found “mini horses” and tiny chariots along with two remote controls to move them around the track. With Brendon controlling the steering and Rachel controlling the speed, a trumpeter announced the beginning of the race for the newlywed’s chariot. Instantly out of the gate, Rachel took the speed a little too slow for Brendon’s liking as he worried about completing five laps before the flame in the cauldron died out. As the chariot continued to motor around the track, the newlyweds gained confidence with the controls learning how to navigate around large rocks and obstacles as well as steer through the sharp turns. However, with the arrival of the Afghanimals, things on the chariot course became much more complicated. Now, in addition to obstacles, the Brenchels and Afghanimals had to avoid one another’s chariots as well. At one point, Brendon steered his chariot directly into Leo & Jamal’s chariot, side-swiping them to end both teams’ run on the fourth lap. Rachel suggested, “Try not to knock into each other.” In the distance, the two teams spotted Dave & Connor headed their way and became increasingly worried about their chances of completing five laps with yet another team’s chariot on the course. The tipping point for the Afghanimals came with the arrival of the Cowboys and Globetrotters right on Dave & Connor’s heels. When Jamal suggested they switch to Gladiator, Leo didn’t hesitate for a moment as they called the chariot race “almost impossible.”
Arriving at the Pantheon, Caroline & Jennifer walked over to a marked truck piled high with old relics belonging to an antiques dealer who led the country singers to the Olivetti typewriter they needed to carry through the streets of Rome. While Caroline did the heavy lifting by cradling the large typewriter in her arms, Jennifer took the lead in asking locals about a building that resembled the Olivetti. Soon, the country singers got the information they needed from a family who pointed them in the direction of Altare della Patria. Although Caroline appreciated the workout her “guns” got from holding the Olivetti as she and Jen trudged through the city, she eventually needed Jennifer to take over the duties when they neared Altare della Patria. Spotting the marked pedestal in front of the building, Jennifer set the typewriter down in an alignment that showcased its resemblance to the stately structure before choosing to race chariots with Caroline.
ROMAN GLADIATORS After more practice and fully committing the choreographed routine to memory, Jessica & John felt ready for their fight against the gladiator…until they got a glimpse of their massive muscle bound opponent. A nervous Jessica asked, “We have to fight that guy?” A somewhat timid John stepped into the arena first and defended against the gladiator’s initial round of sword attacks by blocking with his sword, but John couldn’t keep it up and resorted to blocking with his shield, a tactic his trainer expressly told him he could not use in the first round. John chalked his mistake up to “the brute force of the gladiator” and admitted he “folded under pressure.” On the second attempt, Jessica entered the arena first to fight the brute gladiator. In the hybrid performance/fight, Jessica battled valiantly against her foe, using only her sword to defend the first round of attacks. In the second round, she held up her shield to block the gladiator’s punishing blows, reveling in the theatrical performance (including shouting and grunting) she delivered. Eventually, she succumbed to her enemy when he knocked the shield out of her hand rendering her weaponless as she fell to the ground and became impaled by his sword. But, after Jessica’s bravura performance, John once again used his shield in the first round of attacks causing the couple to return to training before attempting the routine for a third time. Finally, on the third try, John fought the gladiator using the proper techniques along with Jessica to earn their clue in first place. Ripping open the clue, Jessica read, “Make your way to the piazza of John Keats’ unhappy Roman holiday.” Teams had to figure out they needed to find the Spanish Steps, the location of English poet John Keats’ former home.
ENJOYING THE EXPERIENCE
With the Globetrotters, Cowboys, and Dave & Connor racing chariots alongside them, Brendon & Rachel felt their lead entirely slip away and questioned whether they made the right choice in staying. Seeing their chariot constantly crash into others (including a collision that prevented a frustrated Dave & Connor from completing their last lap) causing horses to fly everywhere, Rachel worried, “We’re going to sabotage each other.” But instead of giving into their fears, she and Brendon calmed down, focused, and carefully navigated around the other chariots and obstacles to finish their fifth and final lap just before the flame died out. Just as country singers Caroline & Jennifer ran onto the chariot track, Dave & Connor and the Cowboys completed their fifth lap to get their clue. With the track becoming less crowded, the Globetrotters got their clue on the next try leaving Caroline & Jennifer all alone. Believing they were in last place (the Afghanimals had only started training at Gladiator), the country singers vowed to remain positive and enjoy the experience together before being eliminated. Caroline said, “If we go out this leg, I’ve had a great time with you.” In that mindset, Caroline & Jennifer didn’t panic when their horse hit a rock stopping its progress. Instead, they backed up, continued on, and got their clue in sixth place. Switching Detours proved costly for cousins Leo & Jamal who fell into last place. But they loved every minute of it and became so engrossed in their gladiator roleplaying that they lost track of time. Leo and Jamal both made mistakes during the routine by not properly defending against their opponent’s attacks, but they enjoyed the additional training that came after each failure. Drawing from their love of gladiator movies, the Afghanimals final performance in the arena could only be described as epic. As Leo watched his friend Jamal be slain by the goliath, he shouted for vengeance, heckling his formidable opponent. Then, when Leo took on the gladiator, he matched the brute swing for swing, metal swords clanking, until sadly Leo lost his battle like Jamal did. After the fight, they received an enthusiastic thumbs up from the king along with their clue.
ROAMING AROUND ROME
As soon as first place Jessica & John jumped into a taxi and asked their driver about the cryptic clue involving a piazza and John Keats, they became slightly concerned when the driver said, “No piazza. Via.” But, after several assurances, the engaged couple put their trust in the driver’s hands. This trust started to crumble when the driver took them to Via John Keats, or John Keats Road, stopped in front of what appeared to be an apartment complex and declared this to be the piazza. After getting back in the taxi and watching the driver look through a book for help, the newlyweds finally decided to cut their losses and look for a hotel for Internet and research. Jessica joked, “I feel like I’m having an unhappy Roman holiday.” By the time they discovered they needed to travel to the Spanish Steps, Jessica & John had fallen into last place behind the cowboys, Globetrotters, and Afghanimals who all also had drivers who took them to Via John Keats before changing course. In the taxi, a worried Jessica hoped other teams had as many problems as they did finding the Spanish Steps.
STEP IT UP
Arriving at the Spanish Steps in first place, newlyweds Brendon & Rachel ripped open their clue to find a Roadblock. The Spanish Steps, the widest steps in Europe, were made famous by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie Roman Holiday. This Roadblock required teams to count the marble steps and add that number to the Roman numeral inscribed on the Obelisk Salustiano indicating the year it was erected. Using a postcard from the chestnut vendor, they then had to write the total in Roman numerals and present the calculation to a couple on a Vespa to receive their next clue. Although math and science wiz Brendon initially scratched his head trying to understand the puzzling Roadblock, he attacked the problem by first finding the Obelisk Salustiano at the top of the steps and trying to identify the year it was erected. Standing in front of the obelisk, Brendon asked a polite but no-nonsense local man for help converting the Roman numeral date MCMLXXXVIIII into the alphanumeric 1789. Then, Brendon returned to the bottom of the steps and climbed to the top, counting each one for a total of 135. After adding 1789 to 135 for a total of 1924, Brendon again asked the local man for help converting the sum back to Roman numerals to arrive at a final answer of MCMXXIV.
BACK ON TOP
As Brendon counted and received a lesson in Roman numerals, Rachel waited patiently on the steps when second place Dave & Connor arrived not knowing where to find the clue. The father and son asked Rachel and she vaguely pointed in the direction of the chestnut vendor but didn’t give them definitive, clear help finding it. As Dave started counting steps, Connor stood next to Rachel somewhat miffed that Rachel didn’t help. Rachel responded, “I pointed exactly where it was. Do you want me to hold your hand?” Meanwhile, at the stop of the steps, Brendon presented his answer of 1924 to the couple on the Vespa and received the next clue instructing him and Rachel to make their way on foot to the Pit Stop at Piazza del Popolo known as the People’s Square. After a run through the streets of Rome, Brendon & Rachel spotted Phil in the piazza and stepped on the mat in first place. For their victory, the newlyweds won a trip for two from Travelocity to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Rachel told Phil, “We’ve been struggling every single leg to stay in the Race, so this is huge for us.”
With four teams still trying to find the Spanish Steps, country singers Caroline & Jennifer arrived at the Roadblock in third place, surprised and thrilled to see another team but having no idea how far ahead they had just jumped. Initially, the mathematically inclined Jennifer worked alone and counted the correct number of steps, 135, but after adding that to the year on the obelisk, she confirmed her answer with Dave who had struggled to convert Roman numerals. The pairing was a natural fit built on mutual respect as Jennifer and Connor had previously worked together sewing a shirt in Sri Lanka. After receiving their clues from the couple on the Vespa, the two teams ran together to the Piazza del Popolo where the generous Dave & Connor allowed Caroline & Jennifer to step on the mat before them. The country singers shrieked with excitement and shock when they realized they came in second place. In third place, Dave said of the country singers, “They have been such gems to work with. We love these girls.”
After Jet solved the Roadblock riddle (with the help of two tourists) to give him and Cord a fourth place finish, a completely confused Flight Time ran up the Spanish Steps all alone in fifth place. Instead of counting the steps, when he reached the top the Globetrotter simply shouted for assistance and got the answer of 135 from a local. However, Flight Time didn’t fully read his clue and simply presented 135 to the couple on the Vespa without adding the obelisk year or converting to Roman numerals. When this guess didn’t produce a clue, the increasingly frustrated Flight Time asked other people who told him 136 and 138, two more answers that were rejected by the couple on the Vespa. Completely befuddled, Flight Time said, “I don’t know anything about Roman numerals. I don’t think I can figure it out.” Arriving at the Spanish Steps in sixth place, cousins Leo & Jamal (just like the Globetrotter) had no idea where they stood in the Race because it took them so long to find the piazza. A worried Leo feared he and Jamal fell from first in the last leg to last place now, saying, “I’m really nervous. I haven’t felt like this at all this Race yet.” However, Leo’s mood brightened when he saw Jessica & John emerge from their taxi, relieved to see another team.
While John presented an incorrect answer after counting 136, Jamal, who helped steer Flight Time on the right path by introducing the concept of the obelisk date, solved the Roadblock with the aid of a local woman. Now armed with the power of the correct answer, Jamal reunited with Leo who told his cousin he should reveal the number to John and Flight Time. Before doing so, the Afghanimals made both teams promise they wouldn’t beat them to the mat or U-Turn them in future legs. Then, Jamal asked the most important question: “Is anyone behind you?” Jessica guessed there was another team behind them and Flight Time confirmed the false assumption by adding, “The girls [Caroline & Jennifer] aren’t even here.” With the agreement made, Jamal gave Flight Time and John the answer to the Roadblock before running to Piazza del Popolo. Because John had just made an incorrect guess, he needed to run to the chestnut vendor at the bottom of the steps to grab another postcard before presenting the answer to the couple at the top of the steps. Meanwhile, Flight Time had an empty postcard in his hand giving him a small lead over John in getting his clue. As this tense scene played out in front of her, Jessica nervously told Big Easy, “Please tell me there’s someone behind us.” Just as John got his clue from the couple at the top, the Globetrotters took off in a sprint away from the Spanish Steps with Big Easy warning Flight Time, “They’re right behind us!” Mere seconds later, John rushed down the stairs to Jessica and the engaged couple took off in a sprint determined to catch up to the Globetrotters.
THE FINAL SPRINT
At the Piazza del Popolo, cousins Leo & Jamal stepped on the mat in fifth place and immediately turned around to witness one of the most dramatic footraces in Amazing Race history. Entering the far side of the piazza, Jessica caught up to the Globetrotters and ran step for step with them. Seeing her sneak up on them, the surprised Globetrotters turned on their turbo power and pulled away through the square to reach the mat in sixth place. With John lagging behind Jessica, the engaged couple stepped on the mat last, but only by a matter of mere seconds. The three teams appeared stunned when Phil told Jessica & John they were the last to arrive and had been eliminated from the Race. John told Phil, “For Jess and I it really was an incredible experience for both of us. I couldn’t be more proud of Jess. She’s an incredible woman. Somebody I’m very lucky to spend the rest of my life with.” Leo joked, “I want an invitation to that wedding. I’ll DJ.”
2407 ROUTE MARKERS
Roadblock: The Spanish Steps, the widest steps in Europe, were made famous by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie Roman Holiday. This Roadblock required teams to count the marble steps and add that number to the Roman numeral inscribed on the Obelisk Salustiano indicating the year it was erected. Using a postcard from the chestnut vendor, they then had to write the total in Roman numerals and present the calculation to a couple on a Vespa to receive their next clue.
Performed Roadblock: Brendon, Dave, Jennifer, Jet, Flight Time, Jamal, John
Detour: In this Detour teams had to choose between Gladiator and Charioteer. In Gladiator, teams had to learn the sword skills needed to fight a seasoned gladiator and keep the crowds happy. Once they mastered a series of maneuvers, they would be rewarded with their next clue. Chariot racing was a highlight of Roman sporting events. Charioteer required teams to race chariots by remote control with one team member controlling the turns and the other controlling the speed. Charging around the course, they had to complete five laps before a flame went out to receive their next clue.
Gladiator: Jessica/John, Leo/Jamal Charioteer: Brendon/Rachel, Jet/Cord, Dave/Connor, Flight Time/Big Easy, Caroline/Jennifer
Speed Bump: Caroline & Jennifer had to complete their Speed Bump, an extra task they had to perform for coming in last on the last leg. In this Speed Bump, they had to make their way to the Pantheon, pick up an Olivetti typewriter from an antique dealer and then find the building it resembles, the Altare della Patria, known in Rome as the Typewriter. Once they placed the typewriter on a pedestal in perfect alignment with the Altare della Patria, they could continue racing and try to catch up.
Order of Finish: 1. Brendon & Rachel 2. Caroline & Jennifer 3. Dave & Connor 4. Jet & Cord 5. Leo & Jamal 6. Flight Time & Big Easy 7. Jessica & John
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