The Amazing Race: The Yak Chats with Mona and Beth

Mona Egender and Beth Bandimere
Mona Egender and Beth Bandimere

In a race around the world, the Final 3 teams started the 12th Leg of The Amazing Race by making their way to London, England, where they enjoyed a pint of the UK’s finest brew, before they hopped a flight to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Once back on US soil, the teams raced their way to the Lincoln Memorial where they stood in the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jr gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. The teams also had to take their photo with the President of the United States (well, close enough anyway), play spy with 50 briefcase carrying agents, and play catch at Nationals Park. When all was said and done, the Roller Derby Moms, Mona Egender (@MonaEgender) and Beth Bandimere (@BethBandimere), ended up with a third place finish. The Yak chatted with the derby darling duo today to discuss their time on the race.


The Yak: It was such a bittersweet elimination last night. Knowing that the race was over, but it was great to see you finish at the same time. You definitely did something amazing by making it to the Final 3, as it was something that a lot of the other teams wished they could have done.
Beth: Absolutely.
Mona: We keep saying that, “We’re number 3!” [laughs] We were proud of ourselves, though. Not a lot of people get to say that they completed the whole race. Heck, not a whole lot of people even get to go on the show to begin with, so we were definitely proud of ourselves.

The Yak: So, now that the race has ended, what did your kids think about how you did?
Beth: Our kids are proud of us. Our littler ones, they were excited and loved it from the get-go. Our teenagers, last night, we got some texts from the older kids that said, “Wow, Mom! We’re really proud of you!” To hear that from your 16 year-old kid, it means a lot.
Mona: Hopefully, they think we’re a little bit cooler than they did before the show aired.

The Yak: In regards to the Serving Detour, how long did it actually take you to do it? Was it as long as it appeared on camera, and was it not obvious that the menu was right there for you to follow?
Mona: It felt like we were there for a week. In reality, I think we ended up finishing about 40 minutes behind the other two teams. I completely missed that menu. I did not see it at all. I just had tunnel-vision, and I knew that something was off, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. The second we figured it out, we busted right through that challenge. It was really frustrating to know that if I had opened my eyes and paid attention to detail like I said I would, we could have had a completely different outcome.
The Yak: That seems to happen to quite a few teams, where you get focused on the finish line and you miss important details. We’ve seen it time and time again, so I can understand how that could happen in the heat of the moment.
Mona: It’s funny. There’s this killer fatigue that sets in and you get tunnel-vision. I missed it, too, when we first got to the challenge, I didn’t see it either. We were so tired by that point. It was terrible.

The Yak: Of course, it’s well known that you’re on a Roller Derby team together. How was this experience compared to your roller derby experience?
Beth: It’s funny. Roller derby prepared us for this, so the feeling of a really intense competition was nothing new to us. I mean, we may take it to a whole different level. In regards to the physical part of it, in derby, we let people knock us down to the ground, so we were prepared for being physically uncomfortable. We also do a lot of sports psychology training, so we were able to decompress and then move on when we had a bad leg or bad task. So, it definitely helped us.

Mona and Beth Paddle Through Another Challenge
Mona and Beth Paddle Through Another Challenge

The Yak: Would you consider doing The Amazing Race again or perhaps another reality based show?
Mona: We would do it again in a heartbeat. If they called and said, “Fly out tomorrow!”, we’d be on a plane yesterday. It was such an amazing opportunity. Absolutely. We love stuff like this. We love competing. We love seeing the world. We love meeting all the people we did. It was so great. We would be down for anything.
Beth: It was hard, and it was difficult, but to be able to do it. I mean, how many people in their lifetime get to do something like that? What an amazing opportunity. The only reality show we probably wouldn’t do is Fear Factor, just because we’d be really afraid of what they’d make us eat.

The Yak: What do you think was the biggest obstacle or fear that you overcame during the race?
Mona: The biggest obstacle for us was navigating foreign countries and figuring out how to get places. We got lost a couple of times. We didn’t pay attention to detail. We definitely had tunnel-vision more than once, where we would run straight past a clue box or look at a clue and assume it says something that meant something completely opposite of what it actually did say. We just needed to take a breath, slow down, and really make sure we understood what we were doing before we got started.

The Yak: What was your favorite place from the race?
Beth: My favorite was probably Switzerland. I’ve always wanted to see the Alps, so that was really cool. Also, traversing the Eiger. It’s such a famous mountain, so getting to do that was unforgettable.
Mona: Skydiving in Bora Bora was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I mean, who gets to jump out of a helicopter in Tahiti? It was awesome. My favorite country was Switzerland, as well. I felt like I was home. I love the mountains. I love the snow. It was really cool to get to go up to the top of Europe and be on that glacier. It was really pretty.

The Yak: On the flip side of that, what was toughest challenge that you had encountered?
Beth [to Mona]: Whiskey Barrels?
Mona: Yeah, I would say the leg in Scotland, where we had a speed bump and then they U-Turned us. [laughs] Oh, my gosh, that was grueling. The bowling was a lot harder than it looked. It was really hard to roll a strike because that lane was not smooth. Then, to do the Whiskey Barrels at the end of a really long leg, those things were stinking heavy. They were probably…
Beth: A hundred…
Mona: A hundred and fifty pounds. Then, to have to roll those up hill was exhausting.
The Yak: It was impressive to see you complete that task, especially after having to do the other side of the U-Turn, as well as the Speed Bump.
Mona: Boy, if you could have smelled us, too. We were bad.
Beth: Plus, the haggis. Oh…
Mona: Yeah, it was haggis, manure, and Whiskey. It was lovely.

The Yak: What was the biggest surprise that you weren’t expecting before going on the race?
Beth: The biggest surprise? Hmmm…
Mona: That’s a hard question. I guess it was mainly underestimating the amount of rest that you would get, plus the Pit Stops and the hunger. You would go days without sleeping. The show doesn’t always accurately depict how tiring it is.
The Yak: It makes sense, in that we see you sleep in some odd places, but we don’t really get a sense of how much sleep you’re actually getting.
Mona: Yeah, you’re just catching a few hours here and there, and then on the plane. You’re racing so much and using up a ton of energy, and you don’t really get to eat. I was starving. Starving! [laughs]
Beth: Mona, at one point, ate 5 cheesecakes on an airplane just because we were able to get some food.

Mona and Beth Hop Through A Task
Mona and Beth Hop Through A Task

The Yak: Did you do anything special to prepare for the race once you found out you had been picked?
Mona: We did. We actually studied geography. In Colorado, there’s Red Rock, and we’re training at altitude anyway, so we would put our backpacks on and we would hike at Red Rock to get a feel for the weight. We also did a whole lot of cross training because we knew as a female team, we weren’t going to be as physically strong as some of the men that are on the show, so we did a lot of weight lifting, a lot of cross training, a lot of running. Just to get ready.
The Yak: I’m sure studying the geography came in handy when it came to that last task before the finish line.
Beth: It did! It was so frustrating because we knew exactly what we were looking for. We knew the order of the countries. The issue was just finding them in that huge ball pit. The geography definitely helped though. We were prepared.

The Yak: Was there a certain point when you were working on that task that you knew the race was over?
Mona: Yeah, we knew we weren’t going to be in the lead when we got to Nationals Field because Bates and Anthony had been there, and Max and Katie were just wrapping up, but at that point, it was really disappointing, of course, but we knew we had to finish strong. Our family and friends would have been really disappointed if hadn’t ran just as hard as we did if we were in the front of the pack. Yeah, we knew. We knew that we weren’t going to win.

The Yak: Have you kept in touch with any of the other teams since the race has ended?
Mona: We actually had a bunch of beers with Max and Katie this weekend, since we were all in New York. We talk with everybody, though. Nobody really understands what it was like, unless they were the people on the show with you.

The Yak: So, what’s next for the two of you?
Beth: Mona and I are headed to Austin, Texas, on Friday. We’re competing with our team in a roller derby bout. We’re in the heart of our season right now with Regionals and Nationals coming up. Then, maybe another reality show. We’d love to do something else. Phil Keoghan has a new show coming up, so maybe we’ll put in an application for that.
The Yak: It’s worth a try! You already have the inside track with Phil!
Beth: You never know!

The Yak: Thanks for your time, and we wish you the best of luck with your upcoming bout!
Mona: Absolutely!
Beth and Mona: Thanks for having us!

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