A Dose of Reality: The Amazing Race: All Stars - Episode 01
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: February 19, 2007
Every season of The Amazing Race, there are two guaranteed highlights. One is at the beginning, when Phil tells the contestants "The world is waiting for you." The other is at the end, when the teams all assemble to welcome the winners and cheer them on. At the start of The Amazing Race: All Stars, I realized how special this race would be. As Phil intoned the magic words, I looked at all the familiar faces and couldn't stop grinning.
And They're Off!
The eleven teams (detailed in last week's preview) started off in Miami, Florida. This was an advantage to Team Cha Cha Cha (Danny and Oswald), since Danny was from Miami, and married couple Teri and Ian, who were also from Florida. Between those teams, several caravans brought the racers to the airport, where they needed to travel to Quito, Ecuador. The racers had the choice of two flights, an American Airlines flight that left at 3:50 p.m. and a Copa Airlines flight that left a 3:30 p.m. The trick was that the American flight left later but would arrive two hours earlier.
The first teams to reach the airport were Team Cha Cha Cha, Team Ramber (Rob and Amber), and Team JVJ (John Vito and Jill). Rob showed that he's added a few treats to his bag of tricks -- when Amber encouraged the airport shuttle to leave, Rob stopped the shuttle long enough for Danny and Oswald to get on, telling them that they owed it to Team Cha Cha Cha since the Chas had led them to the airport. All of these teams ended up on the American flight -- mainly because the American terminal came up first.
The first team to be tricked by the starting times was Team Kentucky (David and Mary). They made it to the airport in good time, but purchased their tickets before checking the departure times. They immediately went on to lie to the Beauty Queens (Dustin and Kandice) by telling them that Copa was the fastest, and then told Teri and Ian (as thanks for following them to the airport) the real deal -- that American was better. The Beauty Queens double-checked the info at the ticket counter, but their delay meant that, by the time they got to the American counter, American was sold out. So the teams on the American flight were JVJ, Ramber, Team Cha Cha Cha, Schmirna (Charla and Mirna), and Teri and Ian (at one point Teri wondered what their team name was, and Ian said he hoped that it was "The Big Kahunas" -- maybe I could call them "The Kahu-nots"?). The Copa flight had Team Kentucky, Joyce and Uchenna (Team Baldy), Eric and Danielle (Dysfunctional Duo), Team Guido (Joe and Bill), the Beauty Queens and Team Sluggo (Kevin and Drew)
Travels Through Ecuador
Once in Quito, Ecuador, the racers had to find the Plaza San Francisco to get their next clue. That clue in turn directed them to the Pim's Restaurant ("Yay, we're eating!" cheered Mirna), where they would choose a number. The numbers assigned them to departure times the next morning. Then the racers spent the night camping out at the restaurant -- like a slumber party!
The next morning, Ramber, JVJ, Cha Cha Cha and Schmirna left at 7 a.m.; Teri and Ian, the Beauty Queens, Team Guido, and Team Baldy left at 7:15; and Team Kentucky, the Dysfunctional Duo, and the Sluggos left at 7:30. The Sluggos, it should be noted, have been having a hard race. Drew was very slow in the initial run at the start of the race, complaining he couldn't run in the backpack (what, he didn't test it first?). Then, in the Plaza San Francisco, Drew took a tumble that left his knee bloody and had him wondering if he'd dislocated his shoulder (he decided later that he hadn't).
At the appointed times, the racers learned their next task: to drive 65 miles to Hacienda Yanahurco, an ecological reserve in Cotopaxi National Park. They were advised to enter through the North end of the park. As usual, many of the racers looked to get what help they could from the locals. For some, this strategy worked well -- Ramber and Team Cha Cha Cha each found taxis who would lead them in the right direction. For others, the strategy was a disaster. JVJ found a guy who said he'd lead them, only to find themselves far off course. The issue of north versus south entrance also influenced some teams -- Schmirna ended up at the South Entrance.
Detour - "Wrangle" or "Recovery"
In Hacienda Yanahurco, the teams encountered a Detour, which is a choice between two tasks. This time, the choice was between "wrangle" or "recovery." In "wrangle," the racers had to help a team of local cowboys lasso, tie down, and groom (clip hooves and trim mane and tail) a wild horse; in "recovery," one team member had to put on a historical military uniform, and then the team had to search for three missing items of the uniform -- a sword, an epaulet and a button.
Ramber was first at the roadblock. They initially chose "recovery," because of the difficulties of working with animals, but quickly decided it would be too hard to locate the missing items in the field. No other team even tried "recovery."
The Pit Stop - Mirador Cotopaxi
There weren't a lot of shake-ups in order between the Detour and the Pit Stop (a scenic lookout that teams hiked to after completing the Detour). Ramber was first to arrive, and won a trip to the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, Canada. Danny and Oswald were second; Teri and Ian were third; Eric and Danielle were fourth (moving up significantly in the rankings from the start of the day); the Guidos were fifth; the Beauty Queens were sixth; Joyce and Uchenna were seventh; Charla and Mirna were eighth; and Team Kentucky was ninth.
The battle for last place was between John Vito and Jill, who went from lost to being at the wrong end of the park, and Kevin and Drew, who had had a slow start and then had a flat tire (which they decided to drive on instead of changing). At the end, the Sluggos were team number ten, which meant that John Vito and Jill were eliminated.
Upon hearing that, John Vito said to himself, "How is that possible?" I have to admit, I felt that way myself. I was so happy they were back in the race -- my favorite team -- and they were such a strong team! But that's one thing about the Race -- you never know what's going to happen, and no one is safe.