Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner win 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars'
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/07/2007
After 28 days, five continents and more than 45,000 miles, Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner were the first team to cross the finish line during last night's finale of CBS' The Amazing Race: All-Stars, making the pair -- who had never previously raced together as a duo -- the winners of The Amazing Race's eleventh installment and its $1 million grand prize.
"I got into the best shape being in this race with Eric because he kicked my butt, the race kicked my butt," said Danielle after crossing the finish line. "I'm so happy to be here. I'm shaking. I can't believe this is real right now."
Eric, a 28-year-old waiter from Deerfield Beach, FL, and Danielle, a 23-year-old bartender from Staten Island, NY, met while competing against one another on The Amazing Race's ninth season. Eric was paired with friend Jeremy Ryan and finished second while Danielle was teamed with friend Dani Torchio and finished seventh.
"I'm so happy to be here with Danielle," said Eric. "From what I went through last time -- coming in second, so close -- I mean to be in first is just unbelievable."
During All-Stars' thirteenth and final leg, Eric and Danielle defeated "beauty queens" Dustin Seltzer, a 25-year-old graduate student from Seattle, WA, and Kandice Pelletier, a 25-year-old New York University student from New York, NY who finished fourth on The Amazing Race's tenth season; as well as cousins Charla Baklayan Faddoul, a 30-year-old real estate investor from Towson, MD, and Mirna Hindoyan, a 30-year-old attorney from Towson, MD, who finished sixth on The Amazing Race's fifth season.
The Amazing Race: All-Stars' finale began at the twelfth leg's Pit Stop in Guam at Fort Soledad, a 19th Century fortification built to protect Spanish galleons from pirates. Dustin and Kandice were the first to depart the Pit Stop at 11:53AM, and received a clue instructing them to fly more than 3,800 miles to Oahu, HI. Once there, they'd make their way to Kamaka Air Hanger and choose one of three helicopters that would take them to the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Eric and Danielle departed Fort Soledad in second place at 12:55PM and Charla and Mirna left in third place at 1:29PM.
Once they arrived at the airport, Dustin and Kandice booked a flight that would leave Guam at 3:50PM, connect through Tokyo and arrive at 7:40AM in Hawaii. "For privacy reasons," the beauty queens asked the person at the ticket counter to "not mention they saw two blonds." However the beauty queens deception didn't matter really, as Eric and Danielle and Charla and Mirna both booked seats on a second flight that would leave Guam at 4:20PM but still out them on the same Tokyo connection as Dustin and Kandice -- meaning all three teams would arrive in Hawaii at the same time.
However, once they arrived in Tokyo, Charla and Mirna discovered another flight that would put them in Hawaii at 7AM instead of 7:40AM, the time that the flight three teams had already booked was scheduled to arrive. "I'll owe my life to you if you can do this," said Mirna to the airport ticket agent. As Eric and Danielle and Dustin and Kandice pondered where Charla and Mirna could possibly be as their flight took off for the States, Dustin commented the cousins have been known to "snag great flights no one else has known about."
Charla and Mirna ended up arriving in Hawaii at 6:40AM, 40 minutes before the other two teams. Once they arrived at Kamaka Air Hanger, Charla and Mirna learned they had to sign-up for one of three helicopters -- leaving at 10 minute intervals -- that would take them 120 miles to the island of Lanai. Once in Lanai, the teams would have to drive themselves three miles to Kaumalapau Harbor, where they would meet a man in ceremonial Hawaiian dress who would give them the next clue. Charla and Mirna took the first helicopter, followed by Eric and Danielle in second and the beauty queens in third.
On Lanai, the three remaining teams were met by the finale's Detour tasks -- "Under" or Over." In "Under," the teams had to swim to an underwater cave, where they would then swim under the rocks and retrieve their next clue. In "Over," teams would have to stand and paddle on a paddle board to a buoy, where they would retrieve their next clue. Charla and Mirna chose "Over" and completed the Detour with few problems. Eric and Danielle also initially chose "Over" but -- incorrectly thinking it was causing the cousins problems -- switched to "Under," however they still finished second. Dustin and Kandice also picked "Under" and finished third.
After completing the Detour, the teams received clues instructing them to drive to Shipwreck Beach. Once there, they would trek one mile up the beach to find their next clue. Despite arriving at the beach in first place, Charla and Mirna grew exhausted and began to lose their lead. "You have to run. It's a race!" yelled Mirna at Charla to no avail, as they were overtaken on foot by the other two teams.
Eric and Danielle were the first to get to the next clue, which instructed them to get in two-person kayak and paddle against the current to a shipwreck and buoy. Once at the buoy, they would find their next clue.
All three teams launched their kayaks without issue, however the beauty queens quickly ran into a problem when Dustin decided that, given the strong waves and shallow water, it might be easier if they tried to walk their kayak to the buoy instead of paddling. "Dustin sometimes blocks out things I'm saying and doesn't really listen," said Kandice, who was instructing Dustin to get back in the kayak. "I feel extreme frustration from this and I don't think that it helps the team at all."
Although Dustin tried to "guarantee" Kandice that paddling wouldn't work, it did -- however it wasn't enough for for the beauty queens to pull ahead of Eric and Danielle, who were the first team to retrieve the next clue. As they retreived their buoy clues, the teams learned they'd be flying more than 2,300 miles to All-Stars final destination city -- San Francisco, CA -- and they would find their next clue at the San Francisco Old Mint.
As they drove to the airport in second place, Kandice called Dustin "not a good teammate" because she never listened to her. When Dustin told Kandice she was "saying a lot of hurtful stuff right now," Kandice told her it was all true. "The fun of this race Kandice is doing it with you. I'd rather not do it if it's like this," said a teary Dustin, who was forgiven by Kandice. "We have a race to win sister!" exclaimed Kandice. Meanwhile, exhausted from their kayaking struggles, Charla and Mirna embarked for the airport in last place.
Upon arriving at the airport, all three teams booked an 11:55PM flight from Hawaii that would land in Oakland, CA the next morning at 6:57AM. Once in mainland America, Dustin and Kandice and Eric and Danielle raced via taxis to the Old Mint.
After becoming the first team to arrive at the mint, the beauty queens learned that it would serve as the site of The Amazing Race:All-Stars' final challenge -- a task that would test how well each teammate knew the other after 28 days of racing. One team member of each team would go into a vault and answer a series of four questions displayed on the wall, with the answers being one of the 11 teams that competed in All-Stars. Once all four questions were answered, the team member would be given a four digit code which they would lock a safe with. Their partner would then have 10 minutes to answer the same four questions the same way as their teammate, which would open the safe. If matching answers could not be arrived at in 10 minutes, the team could move on anyway.
The four questions were: which team was the "least trustworthy;" which had the most "sense of humor;" which was the most "overrated;" and which were you most likely to "stay in touch with." Dustin was the first in the vault, followed by Eric and Mirna. As all three frantically answered their questions, Dustin made a last-minute switch that the least trustworthy team was Joe Baldassare and Bill Bartek instead of Rob and Amber Mariano. The change was a big one, as Kandice picked Rob and Amber and correctly matched the three other answers but still couldn't move on because of Dustin's switch. Charla also had trouble matching the answers, but Danielle eventually matched her answers with Eric's due to all the gossiping she said they did during the All-Stars.
The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan informs All-Stars racers Eric Sanchez and Danielle Turner that they are the official winners of The Amazing Race: All-Stars (Photo credit Robert Voets/CBS)
Danielle and Eric both agreed that Ozwald Mendez and Danilo Jimenez were the least trustworthy; Charla and Mirna had the most sense of humor; Rob and Amber were the most overrated; and Uchenna and Joyce Agu were the ones they most wanted to stay in touch with.
With a lead of only a few minutes, Eric and Danielle read their final clue and learned they had to travel by taxi to the Botanical Gardens, The Amazing Race: All-Stars' last Pit Stop. The beauty queens and cousins each didn't leave the final challenge until their 10 minutes expired, but Dustin told her cab driver to find the "fastest way possible" to the gardens and the three teams raced to the finish line. Eric and Danielle arrived first and were met by All-Stars' eight previously eliminated teams.
"I definitely know I could do anything I want to do, and that's what the race taught me," said Danielle. Eric said he definitely saw he and Danielle's relationship "progressing" as a result of All-Stars and referred to his partner as a "fighter." "She did awesome," he said. "I'm really proud of her." Despite finishing the final leg last and coming in third overall, Charla and Mirna were pleased with the journey.
"Mirna and I knew our abilities and I'm proud of everything we did together on this race and we played it with every ounce of energy we had," said Charla.
"We persevered to the very last leg and it was really wonderful to beat all stereotypes -- not just about physical abilities -- but also about what people thought of us," added Mirna. "In the end, I really felt like so many people truly got to know the real Charla and Mirna."