|Posted on Dec 12, 2011 11:05am|
ERNIE & CINDY TRIUMPH IN ATLANTA
Amani & Marcus hoped for a home-field advantage in Atlanta, Georgia but engaged couple Ernie & Cindy ran a near flawless leg to win the race and the one million dollar prize.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE Departing the final Pit Stop in first place at 12:04am, dating couple Jeremy & Sandy ripped open their clue and instantly their faces fell. Teams would now fly to their final destination - Atlanta, Georgia, where married couple Amani & Marcus hail from. When teams landed, they had to make their way to Flight Safety International for their next clue.
All three teams expressed surprise, some more elated than others, about ending the race in Atlanta, Georgia. A worried Cindy said, "Amani & Marcus are gonna have such an edge." Thrilled, Marcus told Amani, "We goin' to the crib, babe. It's home court advantage, home field advantage." Being more cautious, Amani responded, "I hope so." At the airport, Sandy sniped, "How much does it suck that we're going to Atlanta? They've [Amani & Marcus] lived there their whole lives."
The next morning, as the three teams waited to board their 8:30am flight to Atlanta, their focus turned towards winning the race and the one million dollar prize. Ernie said, "I'm ready to work some magic today." Jeremy added, "There's no more friends right now. I'm ready to run and do whatever it takes to jump in front of them." Unable to resist, Marcus offered up one more football reference, saying, "We're playing at home and the ball is on the 10-yard line and we have four plays to get it in. We just have to go out and get it done."
TAKING FLIGHT Landing in Atlanta, dating couple Jeremy & Sandy led a frenzied exit from the airport and arrived at Flight Safety International in first place, just ahead of married couple Amani & Marcus. Ripping open their clue, the dating couple discovered they had to take to the skies one more time in a multi-million dollar Learjet flight simulator. After learning the intricacies of the simulator from a professional flight instructor, teams had to successfully land their aircraft from over 2,500 feet above the surface. When the flight instructor felt they had earned their wings, he would give them their next clue.
With engaged couple Ernie & Cindy reaching Flight Safety International in a very close third place, all three teams entered their own flight simulator where Jeremy, Marcus, and Ernie took the controls as pilots and Sandy, Amani, and Cindy assumed the roles of co-pilots. The three teams first got lessons from their instructors on how to maneuver the plane on the ground, giving them plenty of frustration as they tried to familiarize themselves with the complicated control panel and required checklist of commands they needed to perform. Marcus said, "Never have I done something like this before. This is definitely new and fascinating."
SOARING AHEAD Once the three teams finished their tutorial on the tarmac, they took their simulators to the sky as the instructors set the program to begin flying. At first, all three teams appeared to have a mastery of the plane as each co-pilot called out and confirmed with their pilot each requirement to safely keep the plane flying. However, as the teams approached the runway at 500 feet above ground, engaged couple Ernie & Cindy hit a snag. One important job of the co-pilot was to ensure that the plane maintained a speed of 135 knots throughout the landing process. Cindy allowed her and Ernie's plane to fall dangerously below that mark to a speed of 100 knots. Resetting the program, the instructor told the engaged couple, "We were so slow we were falling out of the sky. We were stalling."
As Ernie & Cindy began a second attempt, Jeremy & Sandy and Amani & Marcus continued their descents to the runway. A confident Jeremy told Sandy, "I got this. Just feel it." While Marcus hit the ground hard skidding his plane off the runway, Jeremy gently glided down as he brought his plane in for a safe landing. After bringing the plane to a stop, Jeremy & Sandy received their clue from the instructor sending them to the former residence known as "The Dump." Teams needed to figure out this referred to the former home of Margaret Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Gone With the Wind.
CRASHING DREAMS Now on their second attempts, Ernie & Cindy and Amani & Marcus again approached the runway. This time Cindy maintained the proper speed of the plane and Ernie brought it in for a safe, clean landing. However, still at 500 feet above ground, Marcus requested taxi information for his plane, something he should not have done until he landed the plane. The instructor told Marcus, "We haven't landed yet so we can't request permission to travel on the ground." Now in last place, Marcus told Amani, "Third time's a charm, right babe?"
After a third failure, Marcus' optimism began to crumble as frustration and anxiety emerged in the former professional football player. Taking a fourth try on the simulator, Marcus again hit the runway too hard, causing the plane to skid off the tarmac as the simulator screen went to black. Trying to calm her husband down, Amani quietly said, "It's alright, baby." When Marcus failed to safely land the plane two more times, he finally lost his cool, smashing his fist to the roof of the simulator and then apologizing to Amani. A sympathetic Amani replied, "Nothing to be sorry about. It's not easy for a reason."
THE DUMP Trying to solve the cryptic clue, Jeremy & Sandy told their taxi driver to pull over so the dating couple could ask a local man where to find "The Dump." At the same moment, Cindy & Ernie were on their taxi driver's cell phone asking an operator for information. While Ernie & Cindy got the correct information sending them to Margaret Mitchell's home, Jeremy & Sandy were told they needed to go to Buckhead, Georgia and find an old Home Depot now called The Dump.
Reaching Buckhead, Jeremy & Sandy easily spotted the well-marked sign for The Dump and ran inside to discover a furniture store. The dating couple began walking around the showroom floor filled with sofas and tables looking for their next clue. After a full lap around the store, Sandy asked Jeremy, "Are we idiots and in the wrong spot?"
THE WRONG TYPE As the confused Jeremy & Sandy continued to search The Dump, engaged couple Ernie & Cindy arrived at the former residence known as "The Dump," Margaret Mitchell's house, to find the last Roadblock of the race. In it, one team member had to work with an old fashioned typewriter, the Remington 3, to type out their next clue. They would soon discover that there was no key for the number 1 and they would need to use the lower case "l" in its place. Immediately after Ernie announced he would perform the Roadblock, he knew he made a huge mistake. Ernie later commented, "Cindy types so much faster than I do." A worried Cindy told Ernie, "Okay babe, type fast." Entering the room, Ernie sat down at an old wooden table and put a piece of paper into his Remington 3 typewriter. Using the tried and true method of hunting and pecking with his index fingers, Ernie slowly began to type out his next clue. When he hit a wrong key, Ernie asked the southern gentleman judge if he could get a bottle of White-Out. When he did not get much of a response, Ernie assumed he just needed to start the typing over with a clean sheet of paper.
FIGURING IT OUT As Ernie kept typing, Jeremy & Sandy finally gave up searching the furniture store and walked outside into the parking lot of The Dump. Finding a patron of the store with a smart phone, Jeremy borrowed the device to finally discover that he & Sandy needed to find Margaret Mitchell's house. Jumping back into the taxi, Sandy lamented, "Our lead is now gone. Shoot, shoot, shoot."
With Jeremy & Sandy now barreling towards "The Dump," Ernie sat in confusion trying to figure out how to type a "1." When the "I" key did not work, he paused for a moment and tried the lower case "l" and achieved success. Finishing the rest of the clue, Ernie ripped the paper out of the typewriter and presented it to the southern gentleman who approved the clue that included a series of numbers: 44 "“ 715 "“ 74. Teams had to figure out the numbers, referring to Hank Aaron's jersey number, 44, the 715th homerun to break Babe Ruth's record, and the year he did it, 1974, would send them to Turner Field.
A SAFE LANDING Still at Flight Safety International on their 12th attempt, Amani & Marcus approached the runway yet again, hit the ground, but this time Marcus guided the plane along the path without skidding off the runway, later commenting, "Once I didn't think so much about the rest of the race, I think I performed a lot better." Breathing a sigh of relief, Marcus exited the simulator with Amani and jumped into a taxi heading for "The Dump." Disappointed with his performance, Marcus said, "I feel like that was a pass in the endzone that I dropped. I get to the Super Bowl and I can't finish it." Amani countered, "I still would've thrown you the pass if you were in the endzone. Obviously somebody's believing in you."
MAPPING IT OUT With the help of a computer and a hotel concierge, Ernie & Cindy arrived at Turner Field in first place. Ripping open their clue, the engaged couple now had to face a map challenge without using their notes; a challenge that could potentially change the outcome of the race. With one team member rigged to a giant map and the other screaming out instructions, teams had to successfully map out their race around the world to receive their final clue.
Walking over to an enormous map over 50-feet high, Cindy got into a harness and helmet and received instructions on how to map out the racecourse by clipping a red rope through the correct carabiners in corresponding countries on the map. Standing on the ground waiting, Ernie said, "The pressure right now is pretty intense." Getting used to maneuvering around the giant map while tethered on a rope, Cindy first clipped the carabiners of Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand with the red rope. Without missing a beat, Cindy moved down the map to Africa, clipping Malawi on her route before jumping up to Europe to clip in Denmark and Belgium. Watching Cindy climb, Ernie joked, "Come on, use those bulging biceps." Finally, Cindy coasted down to Central America with the rope to clip in Panama and then hoisted herself to clip in Atlanta, completing the route. After getting all of the slack out of the rope, Cindy returned to the edge and said, "I think I nailed it. This is the coolest map ever." After receiving approval from the judge, Cindy got down from the map and ran over to Ernie to read their final clue, directing them to the finish line at Swan House.
RECALCULATING With Jeremy & Sandy reaching Turner Field and mapping their route around the world, a frantic Ernie & Cindy depended on their taxi driver to find Swan House and the finish line. Relying on his GPS, the driver went past a turn he needed to make prompting the voice of the GPS to say, "Recalculating." Frustrated, Cindy asked, "What is happening right now? We really have to win." After a few more wrong turns, the GPS uttered the same phrase, "Recalculating."
While Ernie & Cindy continued their search for Swan House, Jeremy & Sandy, after missing Indonesia initially, completed their map and jumped into their taxi hoping they still had a shot. Only five miles away from the finish line, Jeremy & Sandy closed the gap on Ernie & Cindy whose driver finally found the correct street he needed to reach Swan House. Ernie said, "We're in the dark here. We have no idea where the other teams are." Both teams reached the West Andrews Drive gate entrance to Swan House within moments of each other making it unclear who would cross the finish line first.
WINNERS The gates to Swan House opened up to reveal engaged couple Ernie & Cindy running past the eight cheering eliminated teams and onto the mat where Phil awarded them the one million dollar prize for winning the race. Afterwards, Cindy said, "The race has been the best pre-marital counseling that you could ever get." Ernie added, "I am very proud of Cindy. She's incredible and I'm happy that she's my partner in life. I couldn't think of anybody better to spend it with."
Finishing the race in second place, dating couple Jeremy & Sandy reflecting on their experience together. Jeremy remarked, "Our relationship is going on and it's going to get stronger from here on out. We're happy to be together and to have done this, something we'll always share together. It's created a bond of fantastic memories we'll take with us."
After a rough leg, Amani & Marcus arrived at Swan House and the finish line in third place. When Phil mentioned the married couple's children, Amani said, "I think the big lesson in this is that you're not going to win at everything, but whatever you do, do not quit. Give it your all and go for it. As long as you don't quit, you always win."
Co-winner Cindy wrapped up the experience, reflecting, "This race really was worth more than a million dollars. The beautiful things that we've seen. The cultures that we've experienced. The people that we met along the way. You can't put a price tag on that. It's really been an incredible, incredible experience."
1912 ROUTE MARKERS Roadblock: A Roadblock is a task that only one team member performs. In this Roadblock, that team member had to work with an old fashioned typewriter, the Remington 3, to type out their next clue. They would soon discover that there was no key for the number 1 and they would need to use the lower case "l" in its place.
Performed Roadblock: Ernie, Sandy, Marcus
Order of Finish: 1. Ernie & Cindy 2. Jeremy & Sandy 3. Amani & Marcus