The race to the mat at the Shamian Island promenade during the second leg of “The Amazing Race: All Stars” was tight. There was a footrace for the first two teams, and five more teams showed up quickly after that.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had so many teams at the mat at one time,” host Phil Keoghan told the seven teams in the episode that aired Sunday evening.
The teams came so fast and one right after another that Keoghan told Dave and Connor O’Leary, the Salt Lake father-son team, that they were fifth when they were the fourth team to make it.
“I’m getting confused!” Keoghan said with a smile.
Newlyweds Brendon Villegas, 33, and Rachel Reilly, 30, won that leg of the race, and $2,500 each, narrowly beating out the mother-son team of Margie O’Donnell, 56, and Luke Adams, 28, who use sign language.
Country singers Caroline Cutbirth, 30, and Jennifer Wayne, 31, were third to the mat, thanks to their charming the second Express Pass from brothers and cowboys Cord and Jet McCoy, of Oklahoma. The McCoys had won the first leg of the race and two Express Passes — one to keep and one to give away before the fifth leg of the race.
In this season of “The Amazing Race,” returning two-person teams get clues and have obstacles called Roadblocks and Detours to complete as they race around the world for a chance to win $1 million. One of the 11 teams has already been eliminated.
Dave O'Leary, 59, is a prostate cancer survivor, and Connor O'Leary, 22, 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.
The race teams were in Guangzhou, China, and had to go from the Guangzhou Opera House to the Chen Clan Academy to watch a martial arts demonstration to get the next clue, which was an address stamped on their heads by the master.
The McCoys left first but decided to run to the academy while the O’Learys and other teams took the subway, which was much faster. The McCoys eventually took a taxi.
“You go from first to last in a hurry in this race,” said Jet McCoy.
The address was to a play park where the teams had a Roadblock and put together a motorized children’s Jeep — with instructions only in Chinese.
The O’Learys were first to the play park and took the lead several times during this leg of the race.
“I have five kids, seven grandchildren, and I’ve put plenty of things together in my life,” 59-year-old Dave O’Leary said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got this down, we’re going to be out of here in no time.’ ”
It proved to be more complicated than that, and the O’Learys were the third team to finish their car, behind Kentuckians Mark Jackson, 47, who assembled the car, and Mallory Ervin, 28, who was a last-minute substitute for 43-year-old William “Bopper” Minton, who had to drop out for medical reasons, and O’Donnell and Adams.
“One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever done as a parent is putting together toys for my kids on Christmas Eve,” Dave O’Leary said as he assembled the car. “It’s insanity.”
They then had to take the Jeep — by tying it to a taxi — and deliver it to the Guangzhou Children’s Cultural Center. But Jackson and Ervin left Jackson’s backpack at the playpark and had to backtrack to get it.
From the center, the teams had a Detour, where they could either play featherball, which is a game like Hacky Sack, or receive an ancient heat therapy called cupping.
All of the teams chose featherball, and they had to join a team and pass a shuttlecock 10 times, usually with their feet or knees, without using their arms or hands.
“A first it was definitely a struggle,” Connor O’Leary said of featherball.
The O’Learys were first to complete the featherball Detour and head to the promenade.
“The Country Singers were last, and now they’ve basically caught up to us,” said Connor O’Leary, while they were en route to the promenade.
But the other teams weren’t far behind as they quickly converged on the promenade.
Jackson and Ervin were the last team to the promenade and were eliminated from the race.
“I did all I could do,” Jackson said. Keoghan praised Ervin for stepping in for Minton.
“I wish my buddy would have been here,” Jackson said during their emotional goodbyes as the other teams wished them well.
“The Amazing Race” airs Sunday evenings on CBS.
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