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Fishing, sewing help put Salt Lake father-son team in first on 'The Amazing Race'

Published: Monday, March 24 2014 4:40 p.m. MDT

At this route marker, Salt Lake father-son team Dave, left, and Connor O'Leary look at the instructions to fly to Sri Lanka, where they will receive a blessing from a monk at the Buddhist temple before getting their next clue on "The Amazing Race: All Stars" on Sunday, March 23.

CBS Broadcasting

Thanks to their fishing and sewing skills, the Salt Lake father-son team of Dave and Connor O'Leary took first — for their second time this season — in the fifth leg of “The Amazing Race: All Stars” during Sunday’s episode.

It was also another milestone for Dave and Connor O’Leary.

This season, all of the teams are of returning players. When the O’Learys ran the race a year ago, Dave O’Leary, 59, a real estate investor, tore his Achilles tendon and another tendon while running to the mat, or finish line, on the second leg of the race. He competed on crutches for two more legs — they won both of them — before having to withdraw on the fifth leg of the race when they were in Vietnam.

“I felt so guilty bringing the race to an end for Connor,” Dave O’Leary said. “We don’t have any plans to self-eliminate this time.”

This time, they won the fifth leg of the race.

“We’re staying, we’re winning,” 22-year-old Connor O’Leary, a professional cyclist and a University of Utah student, told host Phil Keoghan when they arrived first at the finish line mat.

In “The Amazing Race,” teams following clues in yellow and red envelopes, navigating transportation and completing challenges called Road Blocks, where all teams complete the same challenge, and Detours, where there is a choice between two challenges. Most of the challenges have a local cultural element or tie to the country. The grand prize is $1 million.

Dave, 59, is a prostate cancer survivor, and Connor, 22, is a testicular cancer survivor. Both are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Holladay 25th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake.

The teams began this leg of the race at the Hindu Temple at Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and their first clue instructed them to fly 1,500 miles to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and to go to a travel agent to make the booking.

The teams leave in the order they arrived on the previous leg.

The O’Learys were second, behind brothers and cowboys Cord McCoy, 33, and Jet McCoy, 34, of Oklahoma, who left at 2:25 p.m.

The first six of the remaining eight teams booked a direct flight to Sri Lanka that arrived by midnight, and then the flight was full.

Another flight had a 30-minute layover in Singapore. Newlyweds Brendon Villegas, 33, and Rachel Reilly, 30, decided to take it despite the travel agents saying time was too tight. They ended up running through the airport.

The mother-son team of Margie O’Donnell, 56, and Luke Adams, 28, who is deaf, ended up with a taxi driver who didn’t know where the travel agency was. They went straight to the airport and got on standby for the first flight. They didn’t go on the flight to Singapore as they couldn’t find the connecting flight that would work.

They ended up on a flight the following morning, several hours behind all of the other teams.

Once in Colombo, the teams had to find the Gangarayma Temple and be blessed by a Buddhist monk. The temple didn’t open until 5:45 a.m., and all of the teams except O’Donnell and Adams were there when it opened. Villegas and Reilly got there first, four hours before the temple opened.

From the temple, their clue instructed them to take a train to Galle and then take a three-wheeled vehicle to a coconut stand for their next clue.

“The train ride to Galle was honestly probably one of my favorite parts of the race this far,” Connor O’Leary said. “Just to see the beautiful landscape of Sri Lanka.”

Once in Galle at the coconut stand, they had a Detour and a choice between two challenges. One was “Fishing Pole,” where teams had to swim out to poles in the surf and catch a fish and put it in their bag while perched on the stilts. Each team member had to catch a fish before moving on.

The other challenge was “Spin Control,” where teams had to learn a folk dance and perform it while holding spinning raban discs.

The O’Learys picked “Fishing Pole,” along with the McCoys and engaged couple John Erck, 28, and Jessica Hoel, 27, of Minnesota.

“I will take credit for catching the first fish,” Connor O’Leary said.

“And I will take credit for having taught Connor how to fish,” his father said. They were the first team to have both members catch a fish.

At “Spin Control,” Harlem Globetrotters’ Herbert “Flight Time” Lang, 37, and Nate “Big Easy” Lofton, 32, did the dance without dropping any of the discs on their first try and were the first ones to complete the challenge. The other teams took at least two attempts to complete the dance.

Teams then went to Trendy Connections Garment Factory, where they had a Road Block challenge that included one team member sewing a button-up shirt with a collar.

Connor O’Leary decided to do the challenge. They were given all of the fabric already cut.

“This is going to be a rough roadblock,” he said. “I took sewing in junior high and that’s about the extent of my ability.”

That was apparently more experience than was had by some of the other teams' members who also did the challenge.

“It’s worse than a puzzle because all of the puzzle pieces are moving,” Jet McCoy said.

“I am way lost,” Connor O’Leary said at one point as he consulted the demonstration. “Where’s my mom?”

He had to fix one area around the collar before it was approved and the location of their next stop — the Colombo Rowing Club — was printed on the front.

He was the first to finish. Country singers Caroline Cutbirth, 30, and Jennifer Wayne, 31, weren’t far behind him.

The O’Learys were first to the mat and high-fived each other when host Phil Keoghan told them they were first and had won $5,000 each.

“You’ve just completed your fifth leg, and you’re staying,” Keoghan said.

Keoghan tweeted: “A much better leg 5 for Dave and Connor … and no hopping! Standing strong.”

Because Villegas and Reilly were last in the fourth leg but weren’t eliminated, they had a Speed Bump to complete. It included screen printing the last part of the Sri Lankan flag perfectly on 15 shirts.

O’Donnell and Adams were the last to the mat and were eliminated.

“The Amazing Race” airs Sunday evenings on CBS.

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye

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