Phat, Phun and Phorty

Debra and Steve<br />
(Photo by miri)
Debra and Steve
(Photo by miri)
Debra and Steve - the first team eliminated from TAR4 - kindly agreed to an interview. Their love for TAR, admiration of each other and sense of humor clearly show through as they bring the funny to our questions.

You've said that being on the race makes you feel like you can accomplish anything - do you think conquering that rope bridge and zip line were part of that or is it just that once you take on a adventure like this, you feel as if you can do anything?

Debra: Being part of the Race...the selection process, preparing, completing...were are incredible experiences. But walking the rope bridge was the single most challenging and exhilarating event in my life even though I held on for dear life and moved like an inch worm.

Steve: The experience, from the first telephone call asking "are you still interested in being on the Amazing Race?" to "I'm sorry Debra and Steve, but you've been eliminated" was just an absolute rush. Pushing ourselves to our limits, facing our fears, and finishing (though last) was an incredible challenge.

You've said you have been a fan of The Amazing Race (TAR) since the beginning. What about the show is appealing/special to you?

Debra: We both love to travel. We read travel books, watch travel shows, we are the ones that enjoy seeing other peoples photos from their trips.

Steve: It's been a dream we've both shared for a long time to travel and see the world. Before we met, that dream was somewhat unfulfilled. But since we met, Debra and I have traveled to Europe, Canada and Mexico. TAR gives everyone the chance to to see so many incredible places and amazing things.
I was hooked when TAR1 left from New York...and flew to Africa. WOW...straight to the adventure.
-- Steve
Was there any moment in particular that hooked you on the show?

Debra: I can't think of a standout moment...but I fell in love with Team Cha Cha...what charm and grace under such pressure.

Steve: I was hooked when TAR1 left from New York...and flew to Africa. WOW...straight to the adventure. And after that, just one great place one after another.

When do you first get to see the other teams?

Debra: We arrived in LA late on a Monday. As we walked in to the restaurant that night for dinner, I asked Steve if he thought we would see other teams. (The Race staff had done a good job keeping us apart up until then.) Steve told me to look around and tell him what I saw. I saw nothing but tables of two...DUH! Normally, I'm not this slow.

Steve: Ditto above (duh).

How much interaction did you get to have with the other teams that were on that long flight to Milan from L.A?

Debra: Other than eye contact and a very few hello's, we did not interact with any of the teams in any meaningful way. I know I had picked out teams which I thought we'd be most compatible with...but alas, alliances were not in our future.

Steve: We had a lot time after the Race started to talk to Tian/Jaree and Monica and Sheree at LAX. On the plane ride, we talked a lot to the girls and Chip and Reichen as well as the goat boys as we neared Milan. Of course, once the airplane doors opened, it was off to the races.

Was there any question when you came to the detour about doing the rescue rather than the search option?

Debra: NONE...we just knew that someone had taken the Fast Forward and we knew that we wanted to be challenged, especially if this was our one and only leg of the journey. We also knew that it had been years since either of us had driven a snow mobile and neither had ever used a GPS system.

Steve: Also, having watched the previous TAR seasons we knew one detour would be long, the other not as long. I knew we were ahead of Tian and Jaree, but not by much. Our only chance was to finish the detour quick. Oh well, a good thought anyway.

Could you hear Tian's comment about being stuck behind "the slow team" while you were at the rope bridge?

Debra: I never heard comments...but I could hear them catching up. Although my mind was not working at its optimum...I knew that they must be frustrated to be behind us. But thanks to both of them, they helped me off the rope and then it was on to the zip line.
But also, as a wise woman at our watch party pointed out, "if they're ahead of you, doesn't that make YOU the slow team?"
-- Steve
Steve: I could hear Tian, and that's not all she said. But like Debra, I can understand their frustration. But also, as a wise woman at our watch party pointed out, "if they're ahead of you, doesn't that make YOU the slow team?"

Did you know that there would be such a grueling hike after completing the zip-line?

Steve: No, that was a bit of a surprise. I have to admit, the hill itself wasn't too bad, but after slogging thru the snow (which was two to three feet deep in spots), we were already exhausted.

Debra, how did your knee injury impact your performance on the detour? (That looked like a pretty bad tumble you took in the airport.)

Debra: The only time the knee kept me from doing something was getting off of the rope bridge. You had to kneel and I just couldn't put any weight on the right knee. It slowed me down but after imitating an inch worm crossing the bridge, I don't think it affected the outcome of the race.

Steve: I knew Debra's knee was killing her. Thankfully, Tian and Jaree were there to help her off the rope bridge. They may have looked like they were bullying Debra, but I swear Debra would still be on that dental floss the Italians call a bridge, if it had not been for Tian and Jaree.

How close to Tian and Jaree were you at the end of the leg?

Steve: I think we were within one cigarette or coffee break of Jaree.

What was your favorite moment that didn't make it to air?

Steve: The view from the mountain was just spectacular. It reminded me of the Canadian rockies. At one point while we were struggling up the mountain, Debra and I stopped, caught our breath and just took in the scenery.

Debra: When we finally finished the trek up the hill to the ski lift to make our way back down to Cortina, a group of locals applauded and cheered as we got there. It was great to know that they understood how hard the adventure had been and the guts it took to complete it. We did EVERYTHING the other teams did, just not as fast. Had we been on bus 1 or 2 we would have finished before the 3rd bus arrived.
You need to feel free to push your teammate (maybe beyond their endurance), but you also need a high level of trust (or you don't cross the rope bridge).
-- Steve
Clearly, your relationship with each other was very important, and helped sustain you through some difficult times in the race. At the same time, your concern for each other's feelings and welfare seemed to add to your stress from time to time - like in the hotel in Milan. Do you think it is more difficult to race with someone you care so much about, because what you have to do to succeed in the race - drive hard, sacrifice comforts, push each other - can be out of place in a loving relationship?

Steve: It's a difficult balance. You need to feel free to push your teammate (maybe beyond their endurance), but you also need a high level of trust (or you don't cross the rope bridge). I feel all the remaining teams have that.

Debra: I knew how much this meant to Steve and wanted to do well for him...but I really wanted to impress my two daughters. They have always been such role models for me, it was nice to return the favor.

In your pre-race questionnaire, you were asked to list each other's strengths and weaknesses. Having gone through the race, would you change anything about those answers?

Steve: I think many of those qualities remain. We just have a better appreciation of each other's abilities to surprise us.

Debra: No bungee.

You both seem to have fairly "high-brow" jobs while reality TV, in general, is considered to be pretty "low-brow" entertainment. What kind of reaction did you get from co-workers and friends when they found out you were on the show?

Steve: I work for three radio stations (rock, classical, news). The rock jocks thought being on TAR4 was awesome. The news people (my staff) weren't really sure what to think. The classical people don't own televisions, and even now, don't really know why I was away.

Debra: That is one of the things that attracted me to Steve...his love for the absurd and obscure. We both love old sci-fi (yes we love Dr. Who), television, movies anything media related...we will never be old and stodgy...nerdy maybe...but not old and stodgy.
So she's the only arts administrator in the US who has ever used handcuffs (professionally).
-- Steve
Debra, how does one go from being a police officer to being the director of artist's colony?

Debra: Remember that this was almost 25 years and 100 lbs. ago. My undergraduate degree was in fine arts. My first husband was a police officer and when I saw what he was doing and knew there was a need for females to join the force, I applied and was accepted.

I worked for the University of Oklahoma Police Department and became their first female sergeant. But I soon learned that two people in the same highly competitive field with two small children might not be the best choice.

After almost 7 years the department, I left (I have missed it ever day of my life) to become the manager of the Cimarron Circuit Opera Company. I was chosen because they had had a problem with staff theft and being a former officer they assumed I was trustworthy.

Since then I've worked in the non-profit world for almost 20 years working for either social service agencies or arts organizations.

Steve: So she's the only arts administrator in the US who has ever used handcuffs (professionally).

How did it feel being outed as a snorer on national television?

Debra: OK...that was a strategic plan on our parts to wear down Reichen and Chip. When Steve took a break, I picked up the pace. On the bright side, maybe we can become spokespersons.

Steve: Unfortunately our nefarious scheme failed, when Chip and Reichen just ran that much faster to get away from us in Cortina. I suspect fear of having to spend another night with the "snoring" couple spurred them on to finish the first leg well ahead of us.

Talk about the team and the interview.

[Thanks to CBS's PR Department for arranging this interview.]