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Salt Lake father-son team withdraws from 'The Amazing Race'

Published: Monday, March 18 2013 4:20 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake father-son team Dave, left, and Connor O'Leary withdrew from "The Amazing Race" due to Dave's leg injury that needed medical attention. They went to the Pit Stop at the Vietnam National Museum of History during the episode on Sunday, March 17.

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Since they had won the previous leg of “The Amazing Race,” the Utah father-son team of Dave and Connor O’Leary was the first to head out in Bali, Indonesia, for the next destination — Hanoi, Vietnam.

Once there, the pair of cancer survivors withdrew from the race during Sunday’s episode.

They had consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who recommended surgery for Dave’s injured leg.

“I came home and we got in at 10 p.m. and had surgery the next day at noon,” Dave O’Leary, 58, said in a telephone interview on Monday. The show is taped in advance and his leg is recovering.

He is on track for a full recovery, which can take up to about year, and is already back on a bicycle.

“No skiing, unfortunately,” he said.

O’Leary had injured his leg, including a detached Achilles tendon, at the end of the second leg of the Race when they were in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. He had an ultrasound on it the following morning during a layover in Tahiti, and obtained a medical boot and crutches and they continued to run the race to New Zealand and then to Bali, Indonesia, winning both of those sections of the race.

It was an emotional conversation on the Pit Stop mat in Vietnam with host Phil Keoghan.

Dave O’Leary didn’t want to let 21-year-old Connor down.

“Do you feel that he’s let you down at all?” Keoghan asked Connor O'Leary.

“My dad has never let me down and never could let me down,” Connor told Keoghan, “He’s amazing. He’s my best friend; he’s my hero. We should have stopped after the second leg, he’s a hard man and wouldn’t stop.”

“You should hold your head up and feel very proud of the way you’ve run this race,” Keoghan said.

“I would rather run four legs with you than win $1 million with anybody else,” Connor O’Leary told his dad during Sunday evening’s episode.

The pair was consistently in the top three — even with Dave on crutches and Connor carrying both bags and doing most of the challenges. They obviously had a strong bond and were positive throughout the race despite their obstacles and complications.

“I think I had the strongest guy on the race as a teammate,” Dave O’Leary said. “I had it easy.”

“It was a blast,” said Connor O’Leary, a cyclist who is heading to races in Europe this weekend. “It’s unfortunate that it was cut a little short.”

They won two legs of the race, including a trip to Thailand and $5,000 each, which they said they were planning to save.

“I was doing what I could to help my dad out,” Connor O'Leary said during an interview. “We knew we had to get it taken care of.”

Overall, both of them enjoyed the experience of being on “The Amazing Race.”

“We saw the culture and experienced it first-hand,” Connor O’Leary said. And the challenges at Detours and Roadblocks aren’t things that would ordinarily be done on a vacation, like in Bali when they created a fruit offering and were part of the procession to the temple.

“There’s noting else like it and it is the best memories of my entire life,” Dave said.

“You get such an adrenaline rush and it was amazing,” Connor said.

The most challenging experience was hands down the sandcastle challenge in Bora Bora during the first leg, Connor O’Leary said. One team member went skydiving and later, the other team member had to find the next clue hidden under sandcastles in a field of hundreds of them. Each sandcastle that was torn down had to be rebuilt. Connor went skydiving as Dave had a fear of heights and Dave ended up hunting in the sand.

“I was in the sand, squatting for 3½ hours and it was really hot and humid,” Dave O’Leary said.

Both have enjoyed watching the show and it’s also been interesting to see what led to different teams being eliminated.

“When you’re running your race, you don’t see what other people are doing,” said Connor. “There are so many things that surprise you.”

They were shocked when they heard that John Erck and Jessica Hoel were eliminated during the fourth leg in Bali — while they still had an Express Pass. They found out about their elimination while in Vietnam, but it wasn’t until watching the show that they saw what led to it.

Dave and Connor O’Leary had the second Express Pass that they used on a fishing Detour in New Zealand after Dave was injured and they were determined to win that leg of the race. Both had been flyfishing and after being there for a few hours without any bites, and realizing they weren’t going to accomplish anything quickly, they used the pass.

Dave is a prostate cancer survivor and Connor is a testicular cancer survivor and both are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Holladay 25th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake.

They withdrew not knowing what the challenges were going to be during the show and didn’t see them until Sunday’s episode.

The teams had to watch a political performance and pick out a poster with a particular phrase on it, then participate in a Mua Sapa, the Vietnamese bamboo dance, and then either collect ingredients and make Pho (a Vietnamese chicken dish) or replicate the pieces placed on a Chinese chess board onto a life-sized board using human characters, before going to the Pit Stop. A Double Blind U-Turn was also in play, which allowed the first two teams to the U-Turn board to require another team to do the other Detour challenge, too, and not know who it was who put their name up there.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Dave O'Leary said. “Considering where we were, we could have continued and completed the leg.”

Even the Mua Sapa bamboo dance?

“It would have been comical,” Dave said, adding “But probably embarrassing for me.”

As they ran the race, they really didn’t have too much interaction with many of the other teams.

“We didn’t have any beef with any team and everyone was really nice,” Connor O’Leary said. “May the best team win.”

During Sunday’s episode, friends Pamela Chien and Winnie Sung came in first and sent YouTube channel hosts Joey Graceffa and Meghan Camarena on the U-Turn to do the other detour challenge. Graceffa and Camarena were the second team to the U-Turn station and sent married couple Chuck and Wynona McCall to do both detour challenges. It was a blind U-Turn, so the teams didn’t know who sent them back.

Graceffa and Camarena were the second to last team to come in and the McCalls were the last team on the mat.

Because the O’Learys had withdrawn from the race, no other teams were eliminated Sunday. Next week, the teams head to Botswana in southern Africa.

“The Amazing Race” airs Sunday evenings on CBS.

Email: rappleye@desnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye

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