Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race's Marisa Axelrod, Brooke Jackson talk
By John Bracchitta, 10/20/2008
After three legs, Marisa Axelrod and Brooke Jackson had begun making steps towards overcoming a disappointing The Amazing Race 13 start and being taken more seriously by the other teams in the competition.
However, complications and a dash of bad luck in the fourth leg undid all the progress that the "Friends" had made, as Marisa and Brooke became the fourth team to be eliminated from the show in last night's broadcast on CBS.
On Monday, Marisa and Brooke spoke to Reality TV World about what problems they encountered on the flight to -- and upon their arrival in -- New Zealand, how the light air in Bolivia affected them all the way to their elimination in Auckland, and why they were so "surprised" that they called a member of another team on Sunday after watching the broadcast.
Reality TV World: So how'd you both end up on the show? Who's idea was it?
Brooke: Oh, I'm sorry what was the question?
Reality TV World: Who's idea was it to apply for the show?
Marisa: I think it was both of our ideas as a good chance to go out and travel the world together and do things that we would probably never get to do if we hadn't done The Amazing Race.
Brooke: It's just a once in a lifetime opportunity. The prize is $1 million but the experience is worth way more than $1 million.
Reality TV World: Was this the first time that either one of you had applied for the show or had you done it before?
Marisa: Yeah it was the first time that we both applied.
Reality TV World: You were in last place right from the moment you got out of the Auckland airport and never really recovered from it. Was there a reason for that? Did you get delayed in customs or something?
Marisa: The whole day just did not seem to go our way. In Bolivia, I think we were the second people to get our tickets in line, so we thought we were ahead of everyone. We asked to be in front of the plane but when we got to the airport and changed to the flight to New Zealand the plane was way big and we were the furthest ones in the back of the plane. We had to go through security, which was just awful.
We just kept being the last ones, even though we were trying to hurry. We were the last ones to the car, that kind of held us back. And then we went to the gas station because we got lost (laughs) so we asked if we could call a cop and if we could follow a cop to Gulf Harbor and we waited about 45 minutes, which put us even further behind.
Brooke: Yeah, the cop... He said he was coming but he never showed up so from there we went on our own and the we just got lost again. It was dark outside and I was on the wrong side of the car, the wrong side of the road (laughs).
It was just really frustrating. We knew we were last. We were hoping that someone else maybe got really, really lost and they were just as far back as we were, or that it was a non-elimination round. Yeah we were like "Maybe it's a non-elimination."
So we just kept trying to think positive, but you know... We had a feeling we were at the end of the pack.
Reality TV World: So all-in-all, how long do you think it took for you to get from the airport to the harbor?
Brooke: It took three hours! Well, that's how long it took if you went straight there, it's a three-hour trip. But it took us longer because we got turned around and stopped and asked directions. It was a long trip!
Reality TV World: And then once you got there, was there any particular reason why you guys had such a hard time finding the gordian knot?
Marisa: We had never heard of a gordian knot. We were so confused to begin with. Then we get there -- and we already knew that people had been there before us because we actually woke up families who were sleeping on their yachts and they were like "Oh, we heard y'all a long time ago," -- and we asked them for help but no one knew what it was. All of the sudden I think we both looked to the left and there was this huge knot that I guess we [had] just kept passing one million times, which was very aggravating for us.
Brooke: We kept thinking that it would maybe be like a knot on a boat, or the name of a boat. So we kept looking at stuff on the boats. We didn't even think to look for something sitting on the dock. It was at the end of this long dock going out to the side from the main part of the dock. So, we just weren't looking in the right place.
Reality TV World: About how long do you think that took?
Brooke: Oh, it took... probably I'd at least say maybe even longer than 45 minutes. Because we were going up and down [the docks]. Oh my gosh, it was awful.
Reality TV World: All the teams seemed to be a lot of complaining about that kiwi juice challenge -- how hard was it for you?
Brooke: At first we were like "Oh my gosh, nothing's coming out!" But then I got out and looked at it and I saw that there was a lever, and I pulled it and [the juice] all started pouring out.
Then we just kept mushing [the kiwis] and we filled up both of the buckets. It was hard drinking it (laughs). But I think a lot of people just couldn't find the lever.
Reality TV World: So that's why the juice wasn't coming out of the spout and everyone was just staring at it during the show?
Marisa: Yeah some of the people who were doing it, theirs were clogged. We just got lucky. I thought, that by watching it, we got through all of our challenges pretty quick. It was just moving from place to place.
Reality TV World: Last time-related question... How far do you think you were behind [Aja Benton] and [Ty White] by the end of the race?
Marisa: I think we were really close to them. Like maybe 10 minutes.
Brooke: Yeah, it was about 10 minutes, I'm pretty sure.
Reality TV World: Was there any point during the leg that you thought you were getting back into it and had a chance to get ahead of [Aja and Ty]?
Marisa: I think that our attitude was that we wanted to stay positive and to not give up. So we knew we were pretty much in last, but anything can go wrong in a race, like Ty and Aja [getting] a flat tire. Someone could have gotten just as lost as us. So we were kind of hoping for that.
But even though we were that far behind we did not want to give up on our challenges and just kinda flake out. We wanted to get through everything at least so we knew that we got it done.
Reality TV World: Ok, and now actually shifting to some good luck you had with: Cabs, or so it seemed at least. During last week's leg in La Paz, you managed to jump from sixth to fourth in the cab ride to the Pit Stop. Did you just have a good driver?
Brooke: We had an awesome cab driver. He just knew exactly where we were going. He didn't stop and ask for directions. If we got stuck in a little bit of traffic he would... I mean, he kinda did have a little road rage...
But we just kept telling him "We have to get there quick!" and he just listened to us and he got us there.
Reality TV World: During last week's leg, had you contemplated using the U-Turn on anyone?
Marisa: We knew when we had gotten there that we were second or third, so we were pretty much ahead of everyone and we had no reason to use a U-Turn, and we kind of liked everybody.
We knew people had thought about U-Turning [Christie Cook] and [Kelly Crabb] but we had no reason to do it to them. I think we just wanted to play [as] the nice girls.
Reality TV World: In the most recent episode showed that you had struck up some sort of alliance with [Andrew Lappitt] and [Dan Honig]. Were you closest with them on the race?
Marisa: We were very close with them. They were the first team that we met on the shuttle to the way to the airport going towards LAX so I guess by meeting them first... I don't wanna say that we formed an alliance then, but we pretty much just always teamed up with them.
Reality TV World: So how did you feel when, last night, when they said they'd allied with you because you were one of the weaker teams?
Marisa: I tried calling Dan last night to tell him how I felt because we all thought we were so close. So we um... I think both of us were a little surprised. Only because I talk to Dan on, like, a daily basis so I thought, you know, that we were friends. I didn't like them talking about us.
Reality TV World: Oh, you guys stayed in touch?
Marisa: Oh yeah, I talk to Dan quite a lot. We talk to all of [the other teams]. I mean, not on the phone but through email.
Reality TV World: Were there any teams that you got along better or worse with?
Brooke: We really got along with everyone really well. We made stronger connections with [Anthony Marotta] and [Stephanie Kacandes] at the beginning. And then we sort of started teaming up with [Ken Greene] and [Tina Greene] -- in the airports we would research flights together and we kinda stuck together. They were kind of like our "Mom and Dad." And Andrew and Dan a little bit at the beginning. But other than that, I mean we didn't really have an alliance with anybody, but there were teams that we kind of grew closer to.
Marisa: When we got to [Elimination Station in] Acupulco we got very close with [Mark Yturralde] and [Bill Hahler]. We didn't get to hang out that much with them on the race. But we really got to get to know them.
Brooke: I loved them.
Reality TV World: Are there any teams you didn't get along with?
Marisa: I think we got along with everybody. We had no reason to fight with anyone and didn't really want to get in any of the drama that was going on. We didn't even know what was going on when we watched it this week. We didn't know that happened.
Reality TV World: This might be what you're talking about, but several of the teams seemed to be having issues with [Nick Spangler] and [Starr Spangler] -- what was your opinion them?
Brooke: We kept hearing that people had problems with Nick and Starr and we were like "We don't know why because they seemed so nice." We were always really friendly with them. So we never understood [that] and didn't know about all of the conflicts and stories and stuff that was going on.
Reality TV World: So you weren't around for any of that stuff with Kelly and Christie and the sports bra?
Marisa: We heard about it, we weren't there when it all happened.
Reality TV World: Did you see when [Terrence Gerchberg] got mad at [Sarah Leshner] during the first week for talking to other teams? Were you involved in that?
Brooke: Actually I didn't even know that he was even mad at Sarah. I mean I'm sure she talked to us, we kind of talked to everybody. But I wasn't aware that he was, like, not wanting to talk to other teams.
Marisa: I don't think he had a problem with her talking to us, I think it was moreso her talking to Mark and Bill or Tina and Ken because he probably didn't think we were that competitive.
Brooke: Yeah, he probably didn't think of us as much of a threat (laughs)
Reality TV World: What was your take on that second leg incident where Tina ran around telling everyone she had convinced the airline to switch to a bigger plane -- do you believe that's what happened?
Marisa: We had gotten there a little later than when that had happened, but if it wasn't for Tina then we wouldn't have all been on that flight together. I think she really helped everybody out. I mean I don't blame her for wanting to take full credit for that, she did all of that on her own.
Reality TV World: Did you do anything special -- physical or mental -- to prepare for the Race?
Brooke: I worked right up until the start of [The Amazing Race] but I would try and run and work out whenever I could. But if I could do it over again I would definitely practice running with my backpack, because that is a whole other story.
Marisa: Before we went we watched some of [the show's] older seasons and kind of studied different strategies of what to do and what not to do, but I guess when you're in the moment... You know it just looks so much easier when you're watching on television and then actually doing it. I think a lot of people realized that.
Reality TV World: Do either of you have a favorite experience on The Amazing Race?
Marisa: I think the whole thing was just an incredible experience. Sleeping in the jungle, going to New Zealand, and sleeping next to Simon Bolivar. Everything we did was just an experience.
Brooke: I just think a lot of it was facing our fears. Like the cargo net, I hate heights! But honestly I wasn't even scared when I was doing it. I was just glad that I was facing a fear and I was proud of us for doing that.
I just couldn't wait to go back home and tell, and to see our families reactions to what we did. They were so proud of us.
Reality TV World: Did you have a least favorite experience?
Marisa: I know for me it was [that] boat that we were pushing [during the second leg]. When we were done with it we were so glad that we did it because I don't think that was the thing that we wanted to do. It was awful, it was miserable, it was hot. We thought we were in really good shape but... I thought I was gonna die of a heat stroke (laughs). Plus we were dehydrated.
Brooke: Yeah, really dehydrated.
Marisa: I think our dads were proud of us, having these strong daughters (both laugh)
Brooke: I think a lot of it was, you know, if you get a good cab or not. It might not necessarily be how athletic somebody is, or how smart somebody is. I mean look at Mark and Bill, they're so smart but they're eliminated. I think a lot of people think that you have to be in top condition...
Marisa: ... or really, really smart...
Brooke: ...or a world traveler and know 10 languages. But that's not it, anybody can do it.
Reality TV World: Is there anything that you expected to see make it onto the show that was edited out?
Marisa: From the first episode, we wanted the whole shuttle thing to be on there where we met Dan and Andrew. It's on CBS.com but we thought, going back and watching it, it's hilarious because in some of their interviews they say they're not going to let girls get in the way of them. Then right when the whole thing starts, when we got to the airport we were the first two teams who met each other and they were like "Ok, so do y'all wanna work together?" (laughs)
Brooke: I think most of he clips that are on CBS.com show some of the best parts that are just funny. I wish that they would have put some more of that on the air.
Reality TV World: Was there any particular team you began rooting for once you were eliminated?
Brooke: Oh, we're both rooting for Tina and Ken
Reality TV World: Brooke, at the beginning of the Race's second leg you acknowledged that both you and Marisa needed to be "tougher" and "more aggressive" in the race. Do you think you two were able to do that?
Brooke: Um, let's see... I think that we definitely were in Bolivia. We had fun with it [and] we pushed ourselves and we ended up coming out a lot better than we [had before]. In New Zealand however I don't think that we did. I mean we tried our hardest, we did, but we were still really sick from the altitude and everything which sort of made us weak and tired.
But, I mean, I don't know. I think that we did push ourselves as hard as we could.
Marisa: I think that our main thing is even though it just wasn't our day in New Zealand we wanted to get through every single task. We didn't want to stop in the middle of it and give up. Even though we knew we were kinda far behind, we didn't want [The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan] to come and meet us where we were at if we didn't get to the finish line or anything and say "Hey, you girls are eliminated, don't bother doing that."
Brooke: We wanted to get through every single thing and say "Hey, at least we accomplished that and we didn't give up."
We kept thinking [Phil] was gonna pop out of a bush somewhere and tell us we're gone. (laughs)
Reality TV World: We've seen Ken's whistle and Mark and Bill's small backpacks. Did either of you bring anything unique on the race to help you?
Marisa: Before we left, Brooke and I packed so much stuff. I have my hair straightener in there -- I don't know why I ever thought to bring that -- and we had perfumes and all kinds of hair products.
Brooke: You did! (laughs)
Marisa: (laughs) Yeah, I did. But we definitely condensed our backpacks, and I think that helped us out.
My mom packed candy for us, and we had food and stuff too. But, if there's one [piece of] advice I could give to anyone who's about to go on the race it is to get a much smaller backpack than we did.
Reality TV World: You just referred to it before, but last week we saw a bunch of teams struggle with the light air in Bolivia, how did you both fare?
Brooke: We definitely needed to get on oxygen tanks as well -- they just didn't show it -- at the Pit Stop. We would walk up like, three stairs and want to pass out. We had awful migraine headaches...
Marisa: (interrupting) Uh-huh.
Brooke: It really took a toll on us. That night I had cold pills. Yeah, it was really bad, it was miserable. I was ready to get out of there.
Reality TV World: What are you both doing now? CBS listed Marisa as being in school for broadcast journalism and Brooke as a graphic designer before the race.
Brooke: Uh huh. That's what I'm still doing. I just started a new job.
Marisa: And I'll graduate in December so I'm excited.