After last week’s history-making elimination of John and Jessica, who were holding the Express Pass when reaching the Pit Stop, the latest episode of The Amazing Race brought the teams to Vietnam for chess playing, communist partying, and bamboo dancing. With the team of David and Connor O’Leary (@Coleary00) making their way through the last few legs with an injured Achilles tendon, they were required to leave the game due to a doctor’s request as soon as they landed in Vietnam. The father/son duo took time today to sit down with the Yak and reflect on their amazing trip around the world and their emotional elimination.
The Yak: Thanks for chatting with us! It was a really emotional and tough elimination to watch last night.
Connor: Thanks for having us.
David: It was really tough for us, too.
The Yak: Our members wanted to pass along their condolences in regards to being eliminated for something that was out of your control, but that they were impressed for you pushing along this far into the race with your injury. With that being said, how is your leg doing now?
David: It’s in process. I came home and immediately had surgery. They pulled the Achilles back together and they couldn’t do much with the calf muscle, but hopefully, it’ll heal over time. I am back on a bike, though, and I should be running again in the next 60 days, so I don’t see any reason why I can’t make a complete recovery.
The Yak: So, does it go without saying that if the show asked you to come back, you’d do it all over again?
Connor: In a heartbeat.
David: We’d be there next season, if we could.
The Yak: Looking back at the race, what was your favorite location that you visited?
Connor: I would say Indonesia. Bali is a pretty spectacular place, and it’s such an amazing culture.
David: Every place we went was so incredible. Vietnam was great, but I’ll have to agree with Connor, Indonesia was spectacular. Definitely, we’ll go back.
The Yak: What was your best memory from the race?
David: It was having the chance to go see these incredible places, and I got to do a few incredible things. I also got to watch Connor do some incredible things, and to be able to do that with your son, who’s also your best friend, makes all of it full of good memories. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and despite my injury, I don’t have any regrets about doing this race at all. Like I said, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Connor: It was fun, especially getting to do that racing element with your dad. We’ve done things together, but nothing that involves a competition element. It was fun to work with my dad as a team and see all the stuff we could do. It was a pretty amazing experience.
David: Connor was really glad that he got to jump out of the helicopter instead of building sandcastles.
The Yak: Seems like that was a decent trade off.
David and Connor: (laughs)
The Yak: When you learned that you had been cast for this season, did you do anything special to prepare for the race?
David: We did a lot to prepare. We spent a lot of time running, cycling, we went hiking with backpacks, we swam, and we really tried to be physically in a position that kept us fit. Personally, I wanted to make sure I could keep up with Connor. We also watched hours and hours and hours of The Amazing Race while making spreadsheets and analyzing challenges. We even decided who would be the best one to do each challenge. We were just trying to prepare to be in the heat of the moment, but then you get put into that moment and you forget everything you studied. It’s like everything just goes out the window and you’re left on your own.
The Yak: It appeared like you managed to handle most of the challenges without any problems, including your unexpected injury. You mentioned during the show that your doctor said you needed surgery within the next 7 days, but if he hadn’t made that suggestion, would you have been able to continue on?
David: I think we could have. Who knows how long we would have been able to do it, considering that Connor only had so many challenges he was allowed to do according to the rules, so at some point, I was going to have to do things and would have loved to been able to do more. We probably would have completed the leg in Vietnam, and then ultimately, we would have been eliminated, but that goes with the territory. Once we got the word that there was a window within which I had to have the surgery, I just made the decision that it was time to go out.
The Yak: Did you get a chance to get close with any of the other teams, and have you kept in touch since the race ended?
Connor: Everybody was great on the show. They were all super cool with us. We spent a few flights next to the Derby Moms [Mona and Beth] and the Country Girls [Caroline and Jen]. Whenever we had a down time at the airport, we got along with everybody.
The Yak: What was the toughest part of the race that you weren’t expecting?
David: Everything happened so fast. It was really intense. When you’re watching it on television, it’s really easy to armchair quarterback and say, “Oh, how could they make that stupid decision?”, but when you’re there, it’s all moving so fast, so when you get up and get a clue that says “boat” and “bag”, you just automatically just skip the rest of it and head to your boat. You make stupid mistakes.
The Yak: Speaking of just getting up and going, during the non-elimination leg, how long were you racing without a break?
Connor: We were racing for over 4 days. They said that it was the longest leg in race history. It was definitely a long race and I’m sure by that point I just smelled terrible.
David: (laughs) I can confirm that he really did.
Connor: You’re so out of your element, and you’re not on a regular sleep schedule and not able to eat at a regular time, so it kind of messes with you a little bit, but it was still a blast.
The Yak: Watching you was very inspirational, since you both not only overcame cancer in your lives, but also had the additional challenge of the injury, so being able to come in first at all was quite impressive.
David: Thank you!
The Yak: What’s next for the both of you?
Connor: I take off in about a week for Europe for a few months for racing. School and racing is pretty much what I have going on.
David: I’m back to work, and whenever we can follow Connor racing, we do so. If there are races in Europe that we think would be really great to see, we try to do that. He’s got some big races in the US this summer, so we’ll be tagging along on those as well.
The Yak: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, and we wish the both of you the best! Connor, good luck with your upcoming races, and let us know how it turns out! We hope to see you back on The Amazing Race in the future!
David: We hope so, too! That’d be great!
Connor: Thanks so much!