The Amazing Race: The Yak Chats with Eliminated Team Daniel and Amy

With Leg 2 taking us to far away Indonesia, the 10 remaining teams battled it out to stay in The Amazing Race. Even though the playing field was pretty much leveled when the teams got to “race” the bulls, the ever-popular, often-lost Taxi Drivers ended up putting Amy Purdy and Daniel Gale as the last team to reach the Pit Stop. YakkityYaks had a chance to chat with the eliminated racers to find out what happened when Surabaya became “Sure, ya – bye-bye!”


The Yak: I have to know, because it seems to happen to at least one team every season – How frustrating was it to essentially be eliminated because of a cab driver?
It definitely was frustrating that we were unable to find the next clue as quickly as everyone else. Really, the cab drivers that we encountered were incredibly helpful or as helpful as they could be. It’s definitely frustrating that we were unable to find it quickly.
Amy: We’re athletes and we’re extremely competitive, so that made it even harder; knowing that we had exhausted all of our resources trying to find that location. In that area, hundreds of businesses had Wijaya in the name and there were tons of different Wijaya Motor type businesses, so we had pretty much gone to all of them. It was just trial and error trying to find the right one, especially since our cab driver didn’t know the exact location. Honestly, they were part of our team in getting there, so we switched cabs a couple of times. It got frustrating, but we just had to hand it over to the stars and hope that things line up for us.

Amy, how do you feel knowing that the elimination didn’t have anything to do with your leg slowing you down at all?
Amy: I’m grateful for that because I knew going into this race no matter how athletic and skilled I may be, I’m still running on mechanical legs and something could go wrong at any time. We were very prepared for it. The majority of the stuff in our backpacks was leg equipment. We sacrificed a lot of comfort just to make sure we had what we needed in case there was a mechanical failure. Going in, my biggest fear was thinking, “What if something happens with my leg?” I’m not just representing myself, but an entire community who are so capable and so able. I wanted to be a strong representation of that, and I think that I was. I’m so grateful, and my legs felt so good. That’s part of where the tears were coming from was just realizing my legs are not playing a negative role in this. I’m running just like everybody else, and I’m ready to keep going, but then, unfortunately, it was cut short for us.

Looking back at the first leg, when you helped out Abbey and Ryan by helping them find the lady with the abacus, it caused you to end up coming in second place. Do you regret helping them at all?
Daniel: We certainly don’t have any regrets about that. Like Amy said, we’re extremely competitive, but what is at the nature of us is giving. We run a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for injured veterans and young adults and kids with disabilities to get into snowboarding and skateboarding, sports like that. It was after a long leg of the race that we were being extremely competitive on, where they caught us with our guard down a little bit. It was more instinctual for us to help somebody who was in a bit of distress. Amy and I are both competitive snowboarders where we race in something called Boardercross, which is basically a Chinese downhill, where the first man to the bottom, wins. It’s about a sixty-second race, so when were racing snowboards, we’re on for 6o seconds. We’re sprinters, and although we’re extremely competitive, something that is drawn out over a couple of days, you’re not always on and they caught us in a moment when we weren’t all the way on. That kind of gave us a whack in the head and we definitely reset. The beginning of the second leg definitely showed that. We were really set to win it. We were out of the gate second, and we pretty much maintained second place through that whole leg until we got caught up in the cabs.

Speaking of the cabs, do you know how long you spent looking for Wijaya Motors and that clue?
Amy: We actually don’t know exactly how long it was. You lose track of time. It was long enough for us to realize that something’s wrong here. We had pretty much gone through one Wijaya Motors after the next, and after a handful of them, we realized this is not going to be as easy as we thought. We were up there for quite some time.

When you finally reached the Pit Stop, it came down to your team and Gary and Will. Do you know how far behind them you were?
Amy: We don’t know how close we were. I don’t think we were too far behind. At one point we went back to the balloon challenge, just to try and start back at the beginning for our search, and Will and Gary were there, so we thought, “Okay, well, we know we’re not out.” At that point, we had gotten a few more ideas of where Wijaya Motors could be and we headed that direction, but all of those places were not the right places either. I think their cab ended up taking them directly there, so we may have just been a little bit behind.

When you found out you were picked for the race, did you do anything special to prepare yourselves?
Daniel: Yeah, we did. We definitely watched every single episode of every single season. We worked out a lot. We ate really well. We worked out some more. We probably watched some more episodes. We really focused on the gear that we took. Like Amy said, we had a number of pieces that in case something went mechanically wrong with one of Amy’s legs, we had extra pieces for the feet and the prosthetics. We really focused on our packs, and we had really become minimalists as far as carrying stuff goes. I knew that if I needed to step in and carry Amy’s pack, not that she wasn’t capable of carrying her own pack, but just in case I needed to so that we might be able to move a little quicker, and that happened a number of times. For us, packing was a real significant piece to that, and then we worked out again. [laughs]
Amy: My biggest thing was making sure my legs were in order. Just in having prosthetic legs, I’m running in carbon-fiber sockets, so knowing that we may end up in places that had humidity, and since all the places we went were highly humid, my legs may have ended up fitting differently depending on the humidity of the area, so I worked with my leg maker quite a bit to get the legs just as perfect as possible for every situation. We live in the mountains, so we trail ran and we rode cycles and mountain biked. We put ourselves in different situations to see how my legs would hold up.
Daniel: Then we worked out again! [laughs]

What was the hardest challenge you faced during the race?
Amy: For us, we realized that the set challenges – the Detours, the Road Blocks – those were all quite easy. It was just a matter of getting the job done.
Daniel: I don’t know if “easy” is the right word, but it was something that we were very capable of tackling, so we would get a strategy going, mow things down and then move through them quite quickly. The biggest challenges were not the challenges themselves.
Amy: The biggest challenges were really the going from Point A to Point B. When we went into this, we had a strategy because we had watched all the other episodes, so we decided that even if it takes a bit longer, we were going to find English-speaking cab drivers because then we could have a full conversation and come up with game plans with them. Yet, when you’re just dropped off in the middle of these countries and there is not one person who speaks English within a 10-mile radius, that strategy goes quickly out the window when you just have to quickly get in the cab and go. So, for me: the language barrier, trying to find locations and being in these hectic cities where the cab drivers don’t necessarily know every business there.

What was your favorite part of the race?
Daniel: You know, the overall experience was just unbelievable and we’re extremely grateful to have just been selected and have the opportunity. For us, even though we were out second, we really are just looking at all the positives from it. Being able to see all of the amazing places that we were able to go to, and meet the other teams, who some of which will be life-long friends for us.
Amy: I think one of the coolest parts is that although we didn’t get much time to spend with the other teams, but even in the small amount of time, you really end up bonding with them because we’re all having the same experience. We all have such interesting backgrounds. For me, I knew how capable we were as a team, and I knew how capable I was individually, but of course I knew that my leg could be a disadvantage at some point. Yet, all the teams had a challenge of sorts. Everybody had some sort of adversity they were facing and trying to get through on the race, so I realized that the playing field was actually quite equal for all of us. That was kind of a big eye-opener for me. Also, for me, the best part was ripping the clue open because you could be going anywhere in the world and you have no idea where.

Speaking of the other teams, were you able to bond with any of them and have you been in touch since the race ended?
Amy: We didn’t get a lot of time to spend with them on the race. You have a little bit of time on airplanes, when you’re waiting for transportation – you can maybe just chat a little bit, but we appreciate all the other teams and we realized that everybody has their own story and their own background. There’s a handful of them that I know we’ll be in touch with forever.

If asked, would you consider coming back for an All-Star season?
Daniel: Absolutely!
Amy: Yeah, I think being athletes puts a fire inside of us to accomplish something, so because it was cut short for us, we still have it in us to want to keep going. It’s a challenge that we would be ready to accomplish if given another chance.

What’s next for Amy and Daniel?
Amy: After The Amazing Race ended, another race began. I’m a competitive snowboarder, and I’m currently one of the top in the World right now, so we found out about a week before the race started that our organization that we started together – Adaptive Action Sports – we helped to get snowboarding into the 2014 Paralympics Games for the first time. As soon as the race was over, we came back and I started training and our organization started working toward plans to train more athletes with disabilities to help make the US team to compete in the 2014 games.

That’s an awesome accomplishment! Congratulations and best of luck in the upcoming 2014 games!
Amy: Thank you so much!


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