Interviews

That's Cyndi - with a Y

Cyndi and Russell (Photo courtesy of Cyndi)
Cyndi and Russell (Photo courtesy of Cyndi)
What attracted you to the show?
Actually, Russell was a semi-finalist in the Survivor Application Process and CBS decided to pass his application and video on to the Amazing Race Producers. When a producer called our home on a Wednesday afternoon and said they had seen his video and wanted to know what kind of shape I was in, I was shocked. At that time I had only seen the first episode of AR1 when they had to bungy jump, and I told her I’d have to talk to Russell and get back to her. This was shortly after September 11th, and I asked her why they were looking at us. She said we fit the age bracket they were looking for (with all of our children grown), and that we were unique in the fact that we are both ordained ministers. From that night on, we taped every episode of AR1 and memorized it.

With a bit of time/space, what do you miss most about experience?
We miss the TEAMS! How you can be connected with people in such a short amount of time is truly amazing. There is a common bond that cannot be explained. You are competing against these people, and yet you’re rooting for them at the same time. Your heart sunk every time when you saw the last team come in, more than when we came in last ourselves. Thank God for EMAIL!
How you can be connected with people in such a short amount of time is truly amazing. There is a common bond that cannot be explained.
What were the worst and best moments of the race (minus elimination)?
The worst moment of the race is when I realized that I had led our team 6 miles in the wrong direction in Bangkok. After the 1st clue box, two men on a bench marked our map exactly where we should go to get on the boats. All the way to the river, I continued to ask people to make sure we were going the right way. Once at the river, people kept sending us up the river to different bird markets. This was all edited out. Finally hours later, a business man looked at my map and said that we were on the wrong RIVER, and then he proceeded to get on the boat. I told Russell that we had to get on that same boat so I could get more details from him. The man looked at me and just shook his head. He said, "Lady, I told you this boat would not take you there. If you are not going to listen to me, why should I talk to you." I thanked him and told him he was the first person I had met all day that knew what they were talking about, but I needed more directions from him. He kindly marked my map and I knew exactly how FAR we needed to walk to get us back on tract. A taxi would have been nice at that point, but not wanting to break the rules, we walked... Oh yes, and then the batcave...

The best moment of the race was crossing the finish line at each pit stop, including our elimination, and hearing Phil voice saying, "you’re team #?"! Knowing we had given each leg of the race our best effort was good enough for us.

Do you think you and Russell were portrayed accurately on the show?
For the most part, yes. I think everyone was portrayed pretty accurately. The only problem I had with the first few episodes was the fact that they were trying to portray us as having a "spiritual advantage". It was an "edited" statement and after I heard it again in episode 2, I called one of the producers and was told I would not hear it again.
The stress level of this race is unbelievable and I am so thankful that I was able to do it with my best friend and husband, Russell.
Obviously your faith is very important to you. What are some instances where you felt it helped you?
There is a saying that says, "The person dependant on Jesus Christ has the amazing ability to maintain a steady ship on a stormy sea." My personal relationship with Jesus helps me 24/7, even when I'm on the Amazing Race. He kept me calm as I rappelled for the first time- 600ft no less. He gave me courage to go in the bat cave, even though I screamed as the bats hit my head. Faith is not a religion to me, it is walking out what you truly believe each day, and it is though a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that gives me the ability to do so. The stress level of this race is unbelievable and I am so thankful that I was able to do it with my best friend and husband, Russell. We prayed for all of the teams each day!

What was the best thing you packed for the show? The worst?
The best thing I packed for the race was my Trish McEvoy mini makeup kit. At my age, makeup is not a luxury, but a necessity. As my sons came over the night before to unpack my backpack, they put my makeup back in the pack. I think that says it all!

The best thing Russell packed was Power Bars. He needed all of the food he could get!

We can't think of any "worst" item, but we would pack less clothes.

How much did fatigue and jet lag play in the race?
I do believe we were more effected by fatigue and jet lag than the younger teams. Every time we got on an airline, Russell was sleeping before the plane made it off the ground. I'm sure he was exhausted from carrying two backpacks. What a gentleman!

What were the pit stops like? Was there really enough time to eat/sleep/mingle as is shown?
We all called them "media stops". The minute you reached the pit stop, you had to do your interview. After you finished your interview, you looked for the nearest FOOD and WATER! That is usually when you were able to mingle with the other teams and find out how they did on their leg of the race. You got very little sleep, especially when you would hide in the wings to hear the clue of the first team leaving the pit stop!

Which of the locales visited after your elimination do you wish you would have gone to?
Definitely Australia and New Zealand! We have always wanted to go there and having CBS footing the airfare bill would have been great.
We never went on this race with any preconceived ideas of stardom.
Which of the locales visited on the show would you like to go back to?
We both were very impressed with Cape Town and would love to go back someday and take our time seeing the city.

Had you traveled extensively before applying for TAR? If so, where?
Russell has taken mission trips to Sweden and Estonia. I have ministered in many parts of Mexico, Germany, and the UK. But our vacations together are usually in the Caribbean or Hawaii- anywhere I can find a great airfare deal and hot weather. When you live in Minnesota, anywhere south will do when it comes to our winters.

What is one thing most people don't know about you that you wish they did?
That's a hard question. We live in a smaller community, so most people around here know us rather well. We love meeting new people, so coming to TARCON is something we look forward to. Even though we don't drink or party, we love to have a good time and talk to all the new racers and fans. So don't be shy!

What have you been up to since race?
We never went on this race with any preconceived ideas of stardom. We love our family and our church and have been staying close to home during this past year. We have added two more grandchildren since the race- that now makes seven!

Are there any racers who you keep in touch with?
Yes! Some racers are on the computer more than others and email is the best way to communicate with them. Most often I hear from Alex, Shola & Doyin, and Claire, but most of them respond when I email them a "Hi"! Peach is the only one I have to call long-distance to see how she's doing, since she is rarely on the computer with her beauty salon. It's fun to stay in contact with all of them.

Do you have any interest in All Star TAR?
Absolutely!!!! I would love to run against Terri and Ian! I think it's a great idea to have an All Star Race with the top 4 teams from each of the three races. And if any of them don't want to go again, we'll be first in line to take their place.

Any advice to future Racers?
Pack extremely light! Have fun and play the game with integrity. Your true character will now be on film for the world and YOU to see.