Sunday, January 20, 2008

Episode #1211

Departing the Pit Stop in first place at 9:47am, father and daughter Ron & Christina opened their clue, which instructed them to fly over 4,500 miles to their final destination city of Anchorage, Alaska. When they landed, they'd have to make their way to the outdoor adventure store, 6th Avenue Outfitters, where they would pick up necessary gear for the journey ahead along with their next clue.
At the airport, Ron & Christina booked the only flight to Anchorage on China Airlines before sneaking off to the lounge for Internet access. When TK & Rachel and Nick & Don arrived at the airport and booked the same flight, they became concerned that the unseen father and daughter had somehow found a better route to Alaska. When Ron & Chris finally showed up at the gate where the other two anxious Teams waited, TK joked, "I can finally start breathing again. Thank you."

Landing in Anchorage, Alaska, father and daughter Ron & Christina took the early lead out of the airport ahead of TK & Rachel with Nick & Don trailing in third place. At 6th Avenue Outfitters, Ron & Christina opened their clue, instructing them to make their way to the waterfront and find Ship Creek Boat Launch.

With all the necessary gear in their hands, father and daughter Ron & Christina continued to hold their lead over TK & Rachel and Nick & Don by arriving at the Ship Creek Boat Launch to encounter the final Detour of the race, choosing between Cut the Cod and Grab the Crab. In Cut the Cod, Teams had to cut through several 50-pound Ling Cod and search for a miniature clue hidden in one of the fish. The task could be disgusting to some, but Teams with the guts to dig into their work could finish fast. In Grab the Crab, Teams had to jump into the hold of a boat swarming with over 500 live crabs. Then, they had to search through the nipping crustaceans for a crab marked with Race colors. The task wasn't disgusting, but Teams would have to deal with hundreds of writhing crabs, and Teams without fast hands could find themselves in a pinch.

While Ron & Christina initially struggled to carve up the very large cod, they picked the right fish to filet first as they uncovered their next clue, which instructed them to travel 60 miles by taxi to a boat landing and take a high speed ride upriver to 20-Mile Glacier. What Teams didn't know was that their clue was waiting atop the massive primordial ice and they would have to climb the glacier face to get it.

As Ron & Christina sped away in first place, Nick & Don arrived at the cluebox in second place after TK & Rachel's taxi driver initially dropped them off at the wrong location. However, Nick & Don immediately lost their narrow advantage over TK & Rachel when they realized they didn't pick up the bag of equipment at 6th Avenue Outfitters, which included gloves for filleting the cod. Back in the taxi, Don scolded Nick for not reading the clue fully, causing them to fall way behind in third place.

While Ron & Christina headed to the glacier and Nick & Don backtracked, dating couple TK & Rachel felt overwhelmed at the idea of filleting cod and searching through the inside for their clue, so they jumped into the holding tank containing some not so friendly crustaceans. As soon as they picked up crabs to check for the clue, the crabs expressed their displeasure by pinching the couple's hands repeatedly. A wary TK said, "This is rough, babe. I don't know if we chose the right one." After more pinching and pain, TK & Rachel decided to throw in the towel on this task as Nick & Don returned with their gear to filet the cod. However, after overturning a few more crabs before getting out of the tank, TK found one with the yellow and red banner on one of its legs. Relieved at finding the clue, the dating couple told their taxi to hurry because they knew jack-of-all-trades Don would slice open the cod with no problems, which was an accurate assessment of Don's skills.

Jumping into their speedboat, Ron & Christina whooped and hollered as the watercraft skimmed along the surface of the crystal clear 2-Mile River, darting around mammoth chunks of ice along the way to the looming glacier. On her experience, Christina noted, "Being able to run this race with my dad is a dream come true. We've grown closer to each other." Arriving at the glacier, the father and daughter's pleasant boat ride turned into a nightmare as Ron had to face his fear of heights to climb the glacier to the next clue. While Ron may have felt intimidated, he buried his pickaxes into the ice and slowly began to inch up the massive glacier as Christina cheered him on. While Ron continued to make progress in an impressive fashion, Christina floundered and flailed as she couldn't get a grip to move up the glacier. After nearly falling off the glacier altogether, Christina focused and began slowly moving up, later remarking, "What really just pulled me through was knowing that my dad was going to receive me on the top of the glacier." Finally at the top, the duo opened their next clue, instructing them to take a breathtaking ride in a helicopter through the Alaskan wilderness to a clearing known as Merrill Field. When they landed, they had to travel by taxi to Goose Lake Park where their next clue awaited.

After their thrilling ride in the chopper, Ron & Christina still maintained a slim lead on TK & Rachel, as both Teams headed in taxis to Goose Lake Park. At the park, the father and daughter opened their clue to find the final Road Block of the race. In it, one team member had to face a field of objects they encountered along the race course. Each Team was given fifteen recognizable items from different legs of the race. With stress and exhaustion at an all-time high, they had to place on a stage ten specific items that matched two different requirements. First, there could only be one item from each of the ten legs of the race. Second, only three items could be animals or animal by-products, one had to be a U-turn, two had to be items either at or brought to the Pit Stop, two had to be items of transportation with wheels, one of which was used at a Detour, and one had to be an item of transportation resembling the shape of a stick. While there were several ways to fulfill either of the requirements, only one correct group of ten items fulfilled both.

Hoping that Christina had the better memory and problem solving skills for her Team, she began to think through the very complicated puzzle trying to deduce the correct answers which were: the tandem bicycle from Ireland, the Detour bike from Amsterdam, the camel milk and chicken from Burkina Faso, the Detour stilts from Lithuania, the gun fired at the Pit Stop in Croatia, the Blackberry in Italy, the U-turn in India, the cleaning man in Japan, and the tea cups in Taiwan.

As Christina correctly identified the U-turn from India, TK & Rachel arrived in second place and Rachel opted to perform this critical Road Block that could determine the winner of the race. When Nick joined in to make it a three-way race, Ron, TK, and Don all stood on the sidelines hoping their partner would be the one to solve the puzzle first.

After placing what she believed to be the correct ten items on the stage, Christina waited for the cluebox to open to confirm her choices, but it didn't. She made a mistake on the first leg in Ireland by using the donkey instead of the bicycle. Next, Rachel took a shot, but she had three incorrect items: the donkey in Ireland, the gas canisters in India instead of the U-turn, and the flowers in Japan instead of the cleaning man. Meanwhile, Nick struggled by having more answers incorrect than correct as he fretted, "It's a million dollars and I can't figure it out."

Eventually, Christina realized her main sticking point was the number of animal or animal by-products on the stage. However, she failed to remember that a human being is an animal and incorrectly kept the donkey from Ireland along with the cleaning man. Frustration began to consume Christina as she continued to rearrange the items, including taking off the gun from Croatia, to make matters worse.

As Christina reached her wit's end quietly asking help from God, the serene Rachel calmly and methodically tried to fix the problems she created in the puzzle. While she immediately knew the cleaning man was indeed an animal, Rachel couldn't remember ever seeing the pole vault even though she used it in Amsterdam. Once that piece of information came back to her, she realized she had two items from Amsterdam and removed the pole correctly keeping the bike. Rachel's calm attitude throughout the trying and perplexing Road Block paid off as the cluebox opened, allowing her to grab the clue and return to an ecstatic TK. Tearing open the clue, the dating couple read that they had to find "the Cook's eye view of the Sleeping Lady." What they then had to figure out was this clue referred to the statue of famed explorer Captain James Cook.

Jumping into their taxi, an excited TK & Rachel asked their driver where to find the "Cook's eye view" and he incorrectly began driving them up to a hillside where he thought the statue was located. During this time, Christina finally finished the Road Block, apologizing profusely to her understanding father, and the father and daughter sat in their taxi hoping to catch up to the dating couple. However, TK & Rachel's driver eventually realized his mistake and got the nervous pair to Cook's statue ahead of Ron & Christina. At the statue, TK & Rachel learned they had to travel on foot to downtown Anchorage to find the statue of the salmon hooker.

With Ron & Christina still on their heels, TK & Rachel ran through the streets of Anchorage asking people who tried to direct them to the salmon hooker. After using a couple of locals for directions, the pair found the brightly painted fish with the final clue of the race, telling them to take a taxi to Girdwood Airport and to the Finish Line.

As the previous eight Teams stood cheering alongside Phil with the gorgeous green background of Alaskan mountains behind them, dating couple TK & Rachel stepped onto the mat to be named the winners of THE AMAZING RACE 12 and the one million dollar prize. On his partner, TK remarked, "I'm incredibly proud of Rachel. She is petite, but she still went out and beat a hell of a lot of very competitive people. It's just a testament to how tough she actually is."

After a hard fought battle, father and daughter Ron & Christina not only took home a second place finish, but a mended relationship as well. Ron commented, "I feel real grateful that even though I didn't come up with the first place, I come up with first place in my daughter's heart and the fact that I changed for the better." Christina added, "My dad and I have a strong friendship now. You can't buy that. I'm so happy to be here with him."

Arriving in third place with the grandfather by his side, Nick said, "Aside from winning, my main goal was just to come here, be on the mat, and race around the world and have a great time with my grandfather. I got everything I wanted from it and more." Don added, "I always said that I could do this competition, but now I had to a chance to prove it."

One half of the newly crowned winners, Rachel commented on her partner. "My feelings for TK are very real. He's my best friend. He's my rock and he's just my favorite person and I got to do all this with him." On how they ran the Race, TK noted, "Being able to do the entire race, not compromising our relationship in any way and in the process making great friendships just makes winning it that much sweeter. Nice guys can definitely finish first and I think we proved it with this."

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