Racer Reports

I Might Be the Only One That Enjoys That

Meredith & Gretchen

Free at last! Free at last!! No, not Meredith & Gretchen, although their amazing race did come to a merciful end this week – I mean ME! As I have repeatedly complained for weeks now, I was promised an early exit for these two. I mean, good god, when have the token “old couple” ever lasted this long? Major kudos to the two of them, but I’m never listening to Daria ever again.

Meredith & Gretchen start this leg of the race in their best position ever – second place. They briefly stop to admire the whirling dervishes at the train station before getting their clue and heading to the airport. After demonstrating what good people they are by offering Ron & Kelly some cash – not forgetting the kindness shown them after their Non-Philimination Strip – they settle on the 8:30 flight with Uchenna & Joyce. If they searched for better, connecting flights, it was not shown. We are left to assume that they are satisfied with their guaranteed, nonstop flight to London. Meredith likens this flight to the proverbial “bird in the hand that’s worth two in the bush.” In other words, they all played it safe. Sometimes safe pays off, sometimes it doesn’t….

Once in London they quickly discover that two other teams did manage to get to London ahead of their flight and realize that they are now pulling up the rear, with Uchenna & Joyce. Gretchen declares that they need to play smart for the rest of the leg.

They assumed that choosing the “Brawn” detour was smart – the physically more demanding detour usually is. Good for them for not taking the less strenuous “Brains” detour, but in this case “Brains” may have been smarter than “Brawn.” Heh. It’s difficult to determine if Brains would have been faster….after all, Rob & Amber had someone hold their hands through the entire task.
There is universal concern for Meredith’s health as they struggle with the heavy boats.
There is universal concern for Meredith’s health as they struggle with the heavy boats. Even Uchenna attempts to help them, before they all remember that no help is allowed (but help was allowed for “Brains”?). Meredith & Gretchen finish the task well behind Joyce & Uchenna, and head for the double-decker driving Roadblock. Meredith does the Roadblock, and the difficulty of the task is illustrated by mild-mannered Meredith’s frustrated outbursts. I know that I’d still be there, trying to drive that bus. Five months later. He eventually finishes, after several attempts, and they head for the pit stop, knowing they’re in last place. No doubt they hoped that this would be a non-elimination leg and were preparing to hand over Gretchen’s new backpack and Uchenna’s underwear. Or maybe they were hoping for a few days in London, courtesy of WRP and CBS.

Phil philiminates the couple and proclaims them an inspiration. Meredith speaks lovingly of his beautiful wife and they insist that they gained “more than a million dollars’ worth of memories and experiences.” I don’t doubt that they mean it, and I admire them very, very much. They’re nice people, real troupers and enjoyed the experience of the Race. Those are some of my very favorite qualities in Racers. So, farewell Meredith & Gretchen. I’m sorry I selfishly begrudged you your time on the Race. But thank you for giving me next week off!
–– by Tribefan

Rob & Ambah
We start this week in Istanbul, with Rob still licking his wounds from karma slapping him in the face last week.
We start this week in Istanbul, with Rob still licking his wounds from karma slapping him in the face last week. Romber are the third team to leave the pit stop. Will they work their way out of the hole to race to the finish line?

The team heads out to find the Whirling Dervishes. Rob hopes that is a “topless woman.” Amber just giggles. On the way, Amber tells us (yes, folks, she does speak) that, “it’s getting close to the end and your stomach is just turning and turning and its making you make stupid decisions.” Who is she referring to when she says, “you?” Are you talking to me, Amber? They find the Dervishes. While the other teams found them magical and awesome, Amber doesn’t like them because they are “spooky.” Romber get their next clue, which tells them to head to London. In the taxi on the way to the airport, Rob shows us his “Turkish translation,” which is a pad with important expressions written on it. This is another smart move that this team has made. Even if you can’t pronounce the words, simply handing it to the driver and letting him read it on his own gets the job done just as well. It is small things like this that put Romber in the final three.

At the airport, Rob borrows an employee’s computer to find the best flight into London. Clearly using Expedia to get the information, I must ask if it will instill a penalty since Travelocity has gone so far as to get their gnomes to be a task in the race. They find a flight connecting in Frankfurt that would get them into London 90 minutes earlier than the direct flight that other teams are on. With possible risk to their survival in the race, they choose to book it, going standby on the connecting flight. But not before telling the nice woman who couldn’t get any work done while they were there to not let anyone else use the Internet. Seriously you guys, there was more than one computer at the airport anyway. There are bigger things to worry about. What happens next has me confused: after getting tickets for the first flight, they then head over to the counter to buy tickets for the direct flight. Amber tells us that “those one’s we’re gonna flaunt around in front of the other teams to make them think that we’re on that flight.” I thought teams were only allowed to have confirmed tickets for one flight under race rules? Maybe I missed something. [This question in the FAQ might be helpful – miri]

Romber aren’t particularly happy when they see Ron & Kelly get on their earlier flight. The two teams have a foot race through the Frankfurt airport to get their standby tickets. Both teams continue their streak of luck and get on the connection. I’ve got to hand it to them. It takes risks and luck to win the race and they both have had plenty of it. Romber ditch Ron & Kelly at the airport and never look back. On the train into the city they meet Stuart, who is quick to help them in finding their way to Abbey Road. Coincidentally, Stuart is heading in that direction anyway and offers that they should follow him. Stuart becomes London’s abductee of the day. My biggest issue with Stuart is that he essentially became a third member of the team. So much so, that we see Stuart reading the clue along with Rob & Amber. Getting help is one thing, but Stuart led Romber all the way through the tasks. I feel like this took away from the entire point of the race: the mental and physical strength. I was bored watching this team from here on out because all they did was follow Stuart. Stuart even went with them up in the London Eye to spot the flag for their next destination. Even though he did not actually spot the flag, this was two extra eyes and an extreme disadvantage to the other teams that were just as mentally exhausted. (Side note: Since it can’t be said enough. Shut up, Kelly!)

The team chooses the Brains Detour and are able to do it with no effort (thanks, Stuart). On the train to the Detour, we say Cheerio to Stuart. Rob asks, “What are we going to do?” and I continue to admire their good fortune. They are the first to the Yield box and choose to use it on Ron & Kelly, their “toughest competition.” Rob gets to do the Drive A Bus Roadblock. (Side note: Someone explain to me why rules are okay with Stuart helping do the tasks for Rob & Amber, but Uchenna can’t help Meredith & Gretchen do theirs?) Rob finishes with the bus with only a small struggle and the team has yet another first place finish. Their good fortune continues with their award of a JVC home entertainment system. Amber tells us that “when it comes to the end, we are gonna come out on top together and we are gonna win together.” It sure looks like it, doesn’t it? Ron tells us that he sees “a definite lack of character” in Romber. Really? What makes you say that? Since Rob always needs the last word, he tells us that, “losing is not an option. I can’t lose.” Rob, what happens if you do? “I’m telling you, we’re winning this race.” Okay, okay. I’ll believe you. One more episode left and we’ll know just how much of it is luck and how much of it is karma. Good luck, Rob and Amber.
–– by PrincessChristie

Ron & Kelly
I am surprised that last week, when they knew that they were last, Kelly didn't put her makeup in her pockets just in case it was a non-elimination leg...
Ron and Kelly leave in 4th place and end the leg in 2nd ensuring a F3 finish. Since the last leg was a non-elimination leg and they came in last, they start the leg with no money but don't have any trouble in either Turkey or London with begging money from asking strangers. In fact, Meredith also gives them money since they helped him and Gretchen when they had their non-elimination leg (see, sometimes there is positive karma). Kelly also had luck in replacing her makeup when the ticket seller at the Istanbul Airport lends her a lipstick (I am surprised that last week, when they knew that they were last, Kelly didn't put her makeup in her pockets just in case it was a non-elimination leg).

Racing wise, they had a good leg. By taking an earlier, non-direct flight via Frankfort, they land in London a few hours ahead of J/U and M/G. Ron is the one able to spot the flag from the London Eye, they choose the "brains" Detour, and Kelly completes the Roadblock (Ron 5, Kelly 5). At the roadblock, they are yielded by Rob and Amber and Kelly spends the time waiting by defacing Ron and Amber's picture (which is cute).

Relationship wise, well, it’s not good. I have a feeling that when they cross the finish line (unless they have a Guido/Team Who finish), Ron won't be proposing marriage as Aaron did during the last race. Ron seems to be fighting back more – their major fight this week was after the roadblock when Kelly thought that Ron was mean….you know what, I'm tired of watching and talking about the fighting so I'm just not going to write about it anymore and I'm not going to take sides (okay, I am on Ron's side). It’s like recapping the Itchy and Scratchy Show. "They fight! And bite! They bite and bite and fight! Fight fight fight! Bite, bite, bite! The Itchy and Scratchy Show." So, will Itchy and Scratchy win The Amazing Race? Tune in next week and find out.
–– by M. Darcy

Uchenna & Joyce

Memo to Uchenna and Joyce: Always take the earlier flight, especially if it goes to a major hub like Frankfurt, where you can find other connecting flights if your first choice doesn’t work.
Because of their flight screw-up, they came in third, which is good enough for the final three but not great.
What can I say, other than they were too tired to think straight at the airport? Otherwise, well, you saw the episode. They went past the Whirling Dervishes, expressing appropriate awe. They arrived in London late with Meredith & Gretchen. They hauled boats in the Brawn detour, and Joyce did the bus-driving roadblock. I suspect she’s not going to change to a career in mass transit once they’re back in Houston. Because of their flight screw-up, they came in third, which is good enough for the final three but not great.

Oh, and Romber was stupid for not Yielding them. Romber had a chance to kick out a team via the Yield, a more valuable use of the Yield than just trying to win the leg again. But they weirdly valued winning individual legs more, and so Yielded Ron & Kelly, who were racing on their heels. Had they Yielded Uchenna & Joyce, there was a chance that Meredith & Gretchen would have come in third instead, with Uchenna & Joyce out. Now, which team is more dangerous in the final three? Yeah, and that’s why Romber should have Yielded Uchenna & Joyce. I’m hoping that mistake comes back to bite them, with a Uchenna & Joyce win. Of course, I’m hoping they win anyway. Good luck, guys!
–– by Daria

Two of my favorite things – Phil and London – together. Life just doesn't get better.
Phil starts the leg by reminding us that four teams left India and went to Turkey and says for the last time this season – “who will be eliminated next?” While still in Turkey, he tells us that Istanbul is the only city built on two continents, which is a cool and interesting fact (thanks Phil!). And then it's onto London. Two of my favorite things – Phil and London – together. Life just doesn't get better. Well, unless on my next trip to London, I actually see Phil there (Phil, Veterans Day Weekend, see ya there).

This week, there is a detour (brains vs. brawn), roadblock (drive a double-decker bus), and the final yield (and also the final use of the word “advantageous”). And then its time to go to Potter's Field for the pit stop. Rob and Amber arrive first and win another prize (an entertainment center). Ron and Kelly are next to arrive, and then Joyce and Uchenna. Meredith and Gretchen are next but Phil has to eliminate them. Seriously, who would have thought it would take this many weeks for me to have to type those words about Meredith and Gretchen? Next week, Phil awards a million dollars to either Rob/Amber, Ron/Kelly or Joyce/Uchenna.
–– by M. Darcy