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The Amazing Race

By Tiff Wells

The Amazing Race. A 33,000-mile trek around the world for a $1-millon grand prize starts in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Bowl. One of 11 teams for Season 32 is comprised of a pair of Punahou School alums, brothers Riley (’07) and Maddison (’09) McKibbin. The professional volleyball players on the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals), more commonly known as “The Beard Brothers,” are easily spotted throughout this season by the yellow shirts and beanies they wear. We’ve gone to Trinidad & Tobago…to Colombia…to Brazil…to Paraguay…to France…to Germany…to Kazakhstan. Now we’re headed to India for the Megaleg. Six teams remain. Season 32 of The Amazing Race airs each Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. on KGMB. We here at ESPN Honolulu will follow their journey throughout the race with a Wednesday recap that looks back at the previous episode and previews what to expect for the upcoming episode.

Episodes 8 & 9 (“Are You a Rickshaw?” AND “This is Not Payback, This is Karma”) into a preview of Episode 10 – We left off with Riley and Maddison at First President’s Park in Almaty, Kazakhstan. I like learning about where they will travel to for the next episode(s) by the short video preview CBS shows at the end of each episode. But when hearing host Phil Keoghan say that with this trek to Hyderabad, India, teams will be seeing double, I’m very intrigued. It’s hard to be doing something for the first time in a shows’ history when it’s season 32. Teams are tired, but kudos to CBS and The Amazing Race for making history. As Maddison reminds us,

The boys are doing very, very well. They haven’t finished lower than fourth in any leg and have never really been in danger of being eliminated. They’ve played off each other’s strengths. They are consistent and have yet to have a major setback. They’ve made friends in the race and have been strategic about nearly everything. But more so, they are having fun. You catch them smiling, joking with one another on camera (candid or in an interview) and taking in moments of the race. Knowing you’re always near the top allows them to race somewhat panic free. I’m excited for them, but probably not as excited as they are.

Early on, we knew of the Mine Five Alliance (Riley & Maddison, Will & James, Hung & Chee, DeAngelo & Gary and Eswar & Aparna). These five have for the most part, looked out for one another. But as we learned in Germany, the Alliance had its first shakeup. And as Hung and Chee headed to Almaty International Airport in Kazakhstan, they tell us this…

It’s not personal, it’s a race. The Alliance has nearly gotten themselves to the final five. One knew at some point it would go from the group of five to every team for themselves.

We’ve seen the difficulties of hailing down a taxi, but having to hail down not one…not two…but three rickshaws on a busy street was something else. I’m nervous for them. I didn’t know at first what a rickshaw was. And if you don’t know, ask the locals, right? After figuring out that puzzle, you’re then put into a real life version of frogger. Remember that game? It’s one thing to summon a taxi but here, you’re basically pulling a rickshaw to the side of the road for the smog test. Once you successfully complete a test, the rest of the task is easy. Just repeat it twice. We also saw the boys “take” a rickshaw from DeAngelo because they wanted to perform two smog tests in a row, rather than do it one at a time. There wasn’t anything in the rules saying the boys couldn’t do this. How’s that Mine Five Alliance looking now? The boys leave the testing site near the bottom. But it’s a megaleg, so there’s a lot of time for them to make it up.

The first detour was choosing between picking up and delivering three food orders and using instructions from a phone operator or capturing numbers (ones and zeros) on a motion detecting screen to be used in cracking a binary code. We know of the heat and humidity in India and as relatively easy as it sounds to pick up and deliver food while talking to someone, I’d opt for capturing numbers on a screen. I’m relatively good with hand eye coordination, but I’m choosing this one because of the air conditioned building where the tech hub is. Now cracking that binary code is a whole other can of worms, but still, you’re inside, not running around and are also shielded from the elements.

We also know that one team member cannot perform every roadblock. So for my sake, I’d hope my partner would be able to perform this one. We know of how tech savvy and advanced India is, so seeing the teams use a reality feature on a tablet to find three virtual men in turbans is pretty neat. But having to match the virtual man with the men atop the tomb AND place them above the correct column seems easy but it’s like a real-life version of the card game Concentration. Seem easy to you? Think again.

Getting to the Qutb Shahi Tombs first may seem ideal, but when you’re the only one there and having to first find the virtual man, then match it with the real life man on top of the tomb, then place them above the correct column, your lead may shrink as you’re going up and down the stairs. There sure are a lot of marked spaces above the correct column. My legs are getting sore as they are doing a real-life version of a stairmaster here. As teams begin to match the virtual and real man, there are fewer men walking around and fewer marked spaces. Panic time!!!

We’ve mentioned the Mine Five Alliance often already. But as Will and James point out here…

It seems as if the alliance is on its last leg in this leg. It’s also a sigh of relief hearing that Riley and Maddison are within this “new group of three.” I mean, we’re watching the show and writing this weekly blog because of them, right? Looking back, it seems smart to have found the other two strongest teams and secretly team up with them. But is it The Amazing Race? Or is this now another version of Survivor?

Take a breath…we’re at the halfway point of this megaleg with the brothers slightly ahead of DeAngelo and Gary.

There’s been a lot of detail throughout the race. Riley and Maddison have noted that looking into the finer details of the clues is what they need to mostly work on. So when they get to the Charminar, find the next clue box amidst the crowded market, it throws them, the other teams and myself all for a loop when the clue reads, This or That. Nothing more. Detours aren’t fun but at least you can see what you’re doing, where you’re going. Here, it’s just a blind pick.

Knowing what This (push a cart of bangles to a store in Laad Bazaar and then find a set of seven bangles matching the ones on a bride) or That (head to Iqbal Dentist to make a dental impression of a patient’s teeth and then polish a set of dentures before fitting them into another patient’s mouth) was after the fact, I’m choosing This all day long.

In a blind detour, I’d just hope to make the right choice because I might be a little grossed out in acting like a dentist for a few minutes. Some may feel differently, but that’s just me.

Racing around the world, you get to see a few cool places. We’ve seen the brothers take it all in more so than the other teams. They aren’t phased by all of this racing. They are used to competing, playing in front of a crowd. And also, they look like the really fit in at the Taj Falaknuma Palace where they wear their sherwani outfit. The beards just complete the ensemble.

There’s been some debate as to if, and when Riley and Maddison would use their yield. After traveling by horse and carriage to where the next clue (and final opportunity to use their yield) was, they chose to yield the Blonde Sisters (who’ve already been yielded one during the megaleg). They boys joke with the socialites while riding in the carriage as to why it took them so long to get to the Palace. India is just like Hawai`i…filled with traffic! They are just having so much fun. Going up the steps with rose petals falling from above, Riley takes a moment to look over the Palace grounds that overlook Hyderabad. Seeing them enjoy the race and take it all in during each leg has been refreshing. It also helps Riley refocus and clear his mind before performing the second roadblock of the race.

Prepare ten place settings. Seems easy. But why would anything in this race seem easy, especially in Leg 8? Place each setting in a section of India’s longest table to the exact standards for a royal dinner. Sure there are some struggles here as some of the finer details are missed in the beginning (using the ruler to measure out the height and width for each setting for starters), but Riley gets the hang of it.

Riley learns of what he does wrong while watching the host measure out each setting and also helps a couple of the teams here (Will & James and Hung & Chee). But he also doesn’t tell all of the information to Gary & DeAngelo. The new alliance comes to the forefront here but it also would be a little more entertaining to watch all teams complete the tasks, instead of one team continuously attempt it, then tell the others about it. It’s almost taking a little bit out of the race.

They’ve been in the top four, so why should this leg be any different. With music playing as Riley and Maddison head to the world map rug, they finish this unbelievably long leg and get to the pit stop (the eighth pit stop is the Taj Falaknuma Palace) first. This is their second first-place finish of the season and their reward? A seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise for two to Saint Martin. In the end, the Blonde Sisters team of Kaylynn and Haley see their magical run come to an end as they are the last team to arrive and are eliminated. Remember the episode titles? One member from the Dating team (James) said, “Are You a Rickshaw?” One member from the now eliminated Blonde Sisters team (Kaylynn) said, “This is Not Payback, This is Karma.”

Just how tough was this leg of the race? See this bonus clip from Gary and DeAngelo.

How boring, today is only one hour. Episode 10 is titled “Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty.” In episode ten, Riley and Maddison will make their way from Hyderabad, India to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Remaining teams include: professional athletes (2), brother and sister, a dating couple, as well as husband and wife. Each of them have been mentally strong. But how strong are their forearms? And with there being the second and final double U-turn in this leg, who will get there first? Because we know whom Riley and Maddison will U-turn if they get their first. We shift from the Mine Five Alliance to the three. What is this new alliance to be called? And can the brothers continue their strong racing to avoid elimination? Find out who says the quote for the episode TONIGHT at 7:00 p.m. For more of a video preview, click here:

To follow along via social media, visit @AmazingRaceCBS and @TheMcKibbinBros on Twitter or you can head to Instagram to visit @theamazingrace or @themckibbinbros. You can also subscribe to their YouTube page by searching for The McKibbin Brothers.  

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