At the end of The Amazing Race 17, it mostly came down to cabs and the order that they left the airport, and in their exit interviews, the final three teams discussed their cab selection and whether it was a well-constructed leg or not. In addition, Brook Roberts and Claire Champlin revealed they were about 15 minutes behind Nat Strand and Kat Chang. Jill Haney and Thomas Wolfard have no idea how far behind they were.
In an interview with Reality TV World, Kat Chang explains their strategy at the Rose Bowl. “We actually got into a couple of taxis, and I think we actually got into the taxi that Jill and Thomas ended up choosing, and we quickly realized that that was not a taxi we wanted to be in. So we got out and we just went down the line and we asked them, ‘What kind of phone do you have? Do you have a smartphone? Do you have a GPS system? Do you have…?’ Even just asking those simple questions, we could tell that certain taxi drivers had no idea what we were talking about, so maybe their command of the English language wasn’t as great, and then that would become a bigger challenge from going from location to location. And so, ultimately, we thought we picked the best taxi driver and that was a strategic move,” she said.
Her teammate, Nat Strand, said that she liked the structure of the last leg but “not for the tasks, because it was true, getting [bungee] dropped doesn’t involve skill, and riding in a helicopter doesn’t involve skill. But what really wins the Race is not the challenge, it’s finding the information, it’s using what you learned along the Race to help you in the end. … So I think although it probably wasn’t obvious to people that don’t do the Race, the things that made or broke that last leg were the skills that — navigational skills, information finding skills, and just knowing what the pitfalls would be and trying anticipating those, and doing what you could to get around them. ”
In their interview with the site, Brook and Claire said they were pretty close behind. “According to everyone standing there, it was about 15 minutes,” Brook said.
As to one of this season’s most memorable moments, Claire getting hit in the face with a watermelon, Claire said, that medical “checked me out and then they disappeared and they started filming again, so Brook and I literally didn’t know if we were allowed to race or not. So, we kind of just sat there and that’s when I looked at Brook and I was like, ‘What do we do now?’ And she said, ‘I think we have to finish.’ And then that’s when I was like, ‘What?’ And then I saw the other team going, and it’s kind of like survival of the fittest.” There was a cut in time between the hit and Brook telling Claire to keep going, but of course the editing makes it sound like she was insensitive.
Meanwhile, in their interview with Reality TV World, Jill and Thomas stumble through answering basic questions. For example, regarding their selection of a cab driver at the Rose Bowl, Thomas only says, “We actually — they all had broken English and you could see Nat and Kat switch their cab driver…” When asked a really simple question, how far behind they were, Thomas said, “Not really, I mean, we’re not…” and Jill said, “Not far. I mean, I feel like everybody was somewhat close.”
They don’t, however, blame their cab driver. Jill attributes the loss to the start of the leg. “I felt like it was ultimately who got in the first cab from the airport, because then when it went to the drop, it’s like you have your [instructional] briefings and then you have to wait for them to get off, down to the raft and up, so if you’re there first, you have such a big lead,” she said.
Thomas mostly agreed, saying there wasn’t much of an opportunity to catch up, and said Nat and Kat deserved to win. “We were disappointed because we had such bad luck with the cab driver, but reflecting and looking back on that leg, there wasn’t a lot of competition involved with it. Honestly, making sure you don’t make mistakes — Nat and Kat certainly did that and deservingly so finished first — but you’d like to think that you’d have a chance to — that there would be a little bit more of an element of competition involved in the final leg,” he said.