Exclusive: Gary and Mallory Ervin talk about 'The Amazing Race'
By Reality TV World staff, 11/15/2010
Gary and Mallory Ervin thought they were going to be in good shape during the eighth leg of The Amazing Race's seventeenth edition when they purchased a map to help guide them through the leg.
However instead of powering them to a top-tier finish, the map sent them way off course -- resulting the "Father/Daughter" team becoming the sixth team eliminated from the around-the-world competition during Sunday night's broadcast of the seventeenth edition's eighth episode.
On Monday, Gary and Mallory talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including exactly how they ended up being on the road for nine hours, why they decided to rely on a map for the leg, and what they thought of Chad Waltrip's marriage proposal to teammate Stephanie Smith.
Reality TV World: What happened to you guys on the way to the Muscat fort? Last night's episode made it look like Mallory was guiding you based upon a map, but then Gary seemed to think things were "not right" and it was "a bad move" almost immediately.
Gary Ervin: We did have a real good detailed map, one of our first ones of the race, and we had a direct four-lane road going straight for Jebel Shams and we got there and we couldn't find the [right mountain road] and we couldn't find our driver that was supposed to drive us up the mountain.
We could see the mountain that we were going to -- we could see the face of it -- and there was an indirect route, the one on the north side of the mountain, that we were supposed to have taken, and we literally had directions that said we had to backtrack all the way around. It was like 300 kilometers to get where we were going.
Reality TV World: So you found the mountain but you didn't [take] the right access road?
Mallory Ervin: That's what it was. It was the fact that it was a mountain and we went around the wrong side of it. We went, and Nat and Kat also, we [both] had that same map, so there was no way to correct our mistake.
We finally found out that there was no access road on the side of the mountain we went around. So we had to go all the way back around it and then all the way up the other side of the mountain. That's basically what happened. So we were nine hours behind, like I said on the show, I mean.
Gary Ervin: Nat and Kat were the only other team that got that same map and they did the exact same thing.
Reality TV World: So that [show comment] was accurate -- that nine hours comment wasn't an exaggeration or anything?
Mallory Ervin: Yup, no exaggeration. (laughs)
Reality TV World: Wow, so that's like several hundred miles then you were off track obviously, right?
Gary Ervin: That's right. We had to get two tanks of gas.
Reality TV World: Holy cow.
Mallory Ervin: Yeah, it was bad. (laughs)
Reality TV World: Wow.
Gary Ervin: You wouldn't think we'd ever spend money filling up our car.
Reality TV World: Later in the episode, there was a clip with Gary saying that was the first time in the entire race that you had a map. Was that accurate?
Mallory Ervin: It was pretty accurate, yeah. We had one in London that I lost (laughs)
So that was the first time we had a map, yeah. We got it at the airport -- you would of thought it would have been correct -- but it was not!
Gary Ervin: And plus, it was our plan for her to drive, and me to navigate -- kind of got derailed. The stick shift put me in the driver seat instead of the backseat. She's a more aggressive driver than I am. I follow speed limits and she might fudge them a little bit, but I think I was a better navigator.
Reality TV World: So why hadn't you guys used maps before then and what suddenly made you want to buy one in leg eight?
Mallory Ervin: We just found that one, I mean, we just didn't have the money to buy them at times or we didn't have time to stop and get one, and usually it wasn't a long way -- everything was pretty far apart [this leg].
So, usually you'll see other teams, you can follow other teams, so you don't necessarily need a map -- you can't find one usually and you don't need one. So, this leg was different.
Gary Ervin: Plus you don't know if you're going to take a cab or if you're going to be driving. A lot of times a tourist magazine or a tourist book is more helpful than a map.
Reality TV World: So how much hope did you guys have when you finally got to Jebel? Last night's episode made it look like you kind of resigned yourself to finishing last until you finally saw Nat and Kat at the Roadblock. Was that the case?
Mallory Ervin: Yeah, I mean we never gave up -- we never give up in general. But being that out of the way, somebody would of had to make a really fatal mistake or just fallen out. I mean, so when we saw Nat and Kat our hope was filled, our hope was renewed.
We still were going to race that whole leg though, I mean we weren't going to stop, but then we saw them and we were like, we're still in this! So then we stepped it up and we were in full blast until the very end, and it was so close there at the end.
But we were glad we got to race the end of it. We weren't going to give up. We were going to end it like it was a race too -- not just meandering to the finish line. (she laugh)
Reality TV World: Do you have any idea about how far behind Nat and Kat you two ended up getting to the Pit Stop?
Mallory Ervin: Just a couple minutes -- a few minutes. I think it showed pretty accurately how close we really were. We saw each other at the water truck, we saw each other at the next little [spot], we saw each other right up until that finish line.
Reality TV World: Wow so it really was that close even with the nine hour...
Mallory Ervin: It was one of, we think, one of the longest legs ever, it was like 16 hours or so.
Reality TV World: Some of the other teams must of been almost leaving by the time you got there...
Gary Ervin: I know -- our truck, when they were doing the challenge, and we were coming up the water truck when they were going down to bring it back, so we were in it the entire time.
Reality TV World: How did you guys decide that Mallory was going to do the rappelling Roadblock? Because Gary, you had done the rappelling on the bridge a few episodes ago.
Mallory Ervin: Yeah, it was so hard. He still has rope burn. (laughs)
Gary Ervin: The rappelling was the fun part. They didn't have her climb back up -- that was the hard part.
Mallory Ervin: Also, we hadn't seen Nat and Kat at that point so we thought we could be in last, and Dad let me do it because he knew it was going to be a fun one.
And I'm not scared of anything; I thought it was like bungee jumping honestly -- sky diving -- and I wasn't scared and it didn't look that hard so we were just like, alright!
Gary Ervin: I had one more challenge than she did at the time so that evened us up.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed all six of the teams that were left doing the water delivery Detour instead of the wedding table task, which is pretty unusual. Why do you think that was and how did you guys personally decide on which one to do?
Mallory Ervin: We were fairly good at choosing which side of the Detour was slightly more physical because the physical ones, we feel, are usually harder -- a lot harder but it doesn't take as long -- and when we read the clue it said buy 25 chickens, and a bag of potatoes, a bag of -- it seemed like it was going to take a really long time.
So we thought the water truck, delivering it and pumping it from deep in the earth, we thought this will be hard, but I bet we can do it faster because we're strong. So that's what we decided.
I think all the teams that are left, they're all strong like us, and I know they're capable of doing the harder ones, maybe it's shorter -- even though it's harder it's shorter -- so I think that's what made us choose that one. I'm surprised Stephanie didn't choose the wedding one though. (laughs)
Reality TV World: How worried were you guys when you were on the second flight out of Russia? Did you think the two hour difference was going to be a key thing at the time or did you feel there might be another bunching point once you got to Muscat?
Mallory Ervin: I can't really remember.
Gary Ervin: There were two [teams] in front, only two on that [first flight], so we knew that there were enough on our flight. And then at the time, Chad and Stephanie were missing in action.
Reality TV World: What was your thought about them at that time? Did you have any idea what was going on with them?
Mallory Ervin: No, you know you never think that somebody's going to oversleep on the race. I mean you think that that's unheard of, where like [are they?] They found an extra flight! They found another flight! They found someone to drive them to the airport!
We didn't know what it was but we never thought they would have overslept until we all started thinking about it, talking about it like, do you guys think they really overslept?
Because we didn't see them on the [Pit Stop departure] mat -- because remember we were real close to them at the time, we left before them. So we knew there was something up, but yeah at that time we hadn't seen them.
Reality TV World: Getting back to the proposal, what was your reaction to Chad's proposal? Were you guys around when it happened? Because we saw a bunch of teams clapping but you guys didn't seem to be around there at the time.
Mallory Ervin: Well we saw them walking off and we were like, what are they doing, where are they going? And we were just sitting there waiting for the leg to start and we're thinking, oh my God, they're talking strategy. Did they get a flight? Did they find a cell phone?
And then he got down on one knee and I'm sure I was the first one to be like, "Oh my God!" But it was really cool, you know if you [watch it] on CBS.com it says "the engagement party."
When they came back to the group, everyone's hugging them and we're all good friends, we were all excited. It was a really exciting moment. And we like Chad and Stephanie, so we're glad for them getting engaged, for sure.
Reality TV World: So Chad had actually kept it a secret from everybody at the time?
Mallory Ervin: Oh yeah.
Reality TV World: The way they showed it on TV it looked like you guys kind of were anticipating it, but you're saying you guys thought they might have been sneaking off to do something -- that's why you were keeping an eye on them?
Mallory Ervin: Yeah, no. We had no idea at all. Like no idea, so it was cool. It was really cool to say the least.
Reality TV World: Did you guys have any idea why he decided to do it in Oman? It seemed almost like he realized he might be running out of time or something, because I know he had made a big deal about how he planned to do it on the Race, and between finishing last [in the prior leg] and oversleeping, it seemed like maybe he realized he was running out of chances or something.
Mallory Ervin: Yeah, I think that if you watch that interview on CBS.com, I know that he says, "I wanted to do it during the race but there wasn't really time, and I didn't want to stop in the middle of a leg and be like, Stephanie will you marry me?"
So he wanted to do it when he knew he'd have time and that morning was perfect, and we hadn't even started the leg yet. Yeah, and you don't know how far you're going to make it! So I think that was probably his [thought] -- he was carrying it the whole time -- bless his heart.
But Stephanie kept saying, "Chad why can't you sleep? How could you not sleep all night? Everybody else is sleeping!"
And he was just nervous, I guess. So I guess yeah, all those [reasons] -- I think he thought he was running out of time and he wanted to have some time not during the Race, so I guess.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed Jill and Thomas getting hit with that time penalty for paying a taxi driver to lead them to the Pit Stop, which came as a little bit of a surprise because we've seen teams do that type of stuff before. Was that a new rule for this [entire] season of the Race, or was that just a specific rule that was on the clue for the Pit Stop?
Mallory Ervin: I'm not sure if it's a new rule...
Gary Ervin: No, that's an existing rule. You can have someone bring you but you can't pay a taxi driver to lead you to a clue location.
Mallory Ervin: And it said that specifically, like when Michael and Kevin did it -- it said "you must walk to your destination." And I think it might have said something like "You can't pay a taxi cab." I mean we knew that rule beforehand.
Reality TV World: What did you guys think of the new "Express Pass" twist that was added this season?
Gary Ervin: It was interesting. We would have loved to have had it, it basically gives you a second shot at it.
It puts a target on your back but it was a different twist, it made you race a little bit harder to win that leg. Typically as long as you know you have a few teams behind you, you're okay. But that makes it to where you want to win it.
Mallory Ervin: Yeah, I think it put a target on their back, though, too. I mean, I'm almost glad we didn't get it. It proved to be, yeah, like a target, I think.
Reality TV World: Earlier this season, Nick and Vicki were shown being completely unaware of how a Fast Forward works and apparently thinking every team could get one, which came as a surprise to many viewers. Was that a surprise to you too? Do you know what was going on there? Because I thought [explaining how it worked] was something that was in the rules.
Gary Ervin: They must not have read that paragraph. (laughs)
Mallory Ervin: I mean it was in the rules, obviously, because she kept on saying, "Taken? what do you mean taken?" Like it said if the Fast Forward is taken you can't do it, so I think maybe she was just confused as to what they meant by taken. (laughs)
But yeah, we were pretty clear about that rule, that's why we didn't touch it. Because we obviously would have tried for it for sure, but that's a waste of time [at that point], you know?
Reality TV World: How were you two cast on The Amazing Race? How did you end up on the show?
Mallory Ervin: My dad's been a like 10 years or so and I think my Miss America success and everything, it finally got us there. Yeah, he's been watching it for 10 years on the couch.
Gary Ervin: We went through the application process and just her notoriety from being in the Miss America pageant helped get us to the finals. And then I guess they liked what they saw in our interviews.