Exclusive: Steve and Linda Cole talk about 'The Amazing Race'
By John Bracchitta, 02/23/2009
"Married Couple" Steve and Linda Cole were glad to not be the first team eliminated from The Amazing Race 14. However, that doesn't mean they took any solace in being the second team ousted.
Following a tumultuous first round that included an argument about their lack of speed and a second round highlighted by a missed direction marker that led to four-hour trek down a hill that could have been completed in a quarter of the time, Steve, a 43-year-old carpenter from Martinsville, VA, and his wife Linda, a a 52-year-old customer service supervisor, became the second couple to be eliminated from the CBS reality series during Sunday night's broadcast.
On Monday, Steve and Linda spoke to Reality TV World about what led to their now-infamous argument in Switzerland and how they patched things up between the two, exactly why Linda ended up taking nearly twice the time of anybody else to get down the hill in Germany, and which contestant they may have seen breaking one of the show's rules.
Reality TV World: Steve, you had said that you felt you were both becoming "more comfortable" with the race and not "as intimidated" by it during the second round. Could you go into a little detail about what you meant by that?
Steve: Well from the beginning we were having a hard time [trying to deal] with the other teams with no luck. And as [The Amazing Race] started to go and it started to show that we were competitive I think people seen us in a little different light which made it more comfortable that we could talk to people and that we weren't just losers, so to speak.
But also it didn't really dawn on me until we was actually at the cheese hill [Detour task] that we was actually doing this, that this was for real. And once we got past the first leg a lot of pressure and relief was taken off knowing that we weren't the first to be eliminated. Nobody wants to be the first eliminated and there was a lot of pressure and stress. So once I got past that and the arguing and all that then we kinda started to get in a groove and we started to get to talk to people.
Reality TV World: Are there any missteps that either one of you felt you took that was because of that initial "uncomfortableness" in the race?
Linda: I'm sorry what was the question?
Reality TV World: Are there any missteps during either one of the rounds that you guys took that you thought might have been because of being uncomfortable or not quite being adjusted to being in the race?
Steve: I hate to sound like an idiot but can you maybe reword that?
Reality TV World: Okay, well was there any things that [happened] because of maybe a lack of experience being [on The Amazing Race] because it was new? Are there any things you would go back and do differently after watching it on TV?
Steve: Well yeah there's a lot of things, I mean there was a lot of things that the way it was progressing what we did that we should've done differently. The first [thing] is the very first flight, we just took the first thing that we came to. That was a big mistake on our part in not researching. [I'm] not saying that we got on the worst flight or the best flight but we got...
Linda: (Interrupting) ... We got on the worst flight...
Steve (Resuming) ... We just jumped right into it, we didn't think, and as things progressed we started thinking a little bit more ahead of what was gonna happen
Linda: Calling airports and trying to figure what the next challenge was gonna be and how are we gonna overcome that and different things like that.
Steve: And then after the first fight when we got in our argument, I mean we got through that and we got that past us and then we started working together instead of yelling at each other. We kinda started pulling together because it was us two in this race against everybody else.
Reality TV World: Yeah I was gonna ask about that next, what led to that initial argument that they showed on the show?
Steve: It was actually two things that happened. When we got off the train we had to go to the church and we had to run through the town in order to get to the church. So [Kris Klicka] and [Amanda Blackledge] had found somebody to lead them and I thought they would take off and leave us, so we found somebody and by the time it came to get off the train it turned into a footrace, and of course Kris and Amanda (Laughs) it's easy to say who won that foot race. So that was the first thing, that we just couldn't keep up.
The second thing was when we did get to the church that they had the log books that you had to sign in and each team member was supposed to sign it. So when we got there we found that [Jodi Wincheski] and [Christie Volkmer] had actually signed it twice on two lines, one signed it on each, so I thought that we were actually in 11th place when we were in reality in tenth place. That just made the argument grow deeper. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: On the show, Steve, they showed that you were clearly apologetic about [the argument] later, had you realized pretty quickly that you may have come down a little hard on her?
Steve: By the time we got to the campsite I realized that I was wrong. And I have the type of personality that won't admit they're wrong so I just kept the argument going. (Both Laugh)
Maybe it's not the brightest thing to do, but then after... Linda knows who I am. After time went I told her I was sorry and I didn't mean it. And it was wrong, it was totally wrong on my part. She was doing the best she could do, running as fast as she could, she just physically couldn't do any more than what she was doing, and I don't hold that against her. It was totally my fault and I apologized for it. It's certainly not the smartest move on The Amazing Race, that's for sure! (Laughs)
Linda: And in Steve's defense before the race started he was really supportive of me, he tried so hard to get me prepared. He worked with me at the Y[MCA], I lost 35 lbs. He taught me how to swim, I never thought I'd learn how to swim in my life. He started getting me to climb ladders and get over my fear of heights. He really worked with me a lot, but it just wasn't enough for me to keep up with the [other] wonderful teams on that race.
Steve: And as the race went we started... and it gets back to the original question... we were starting to work together as a team whereas we really weren't working as much together as a team [back then]. I was more running ahead with Linda [falling behind]. Then after we sat down that night and talked about it and everything, they we're like 'We've got to work good together."
Linda: After the fight.
Steve: Yeah, after the fight and we did. I mean, when we get to the cheese challenge, once again it was a physically demanding challenge, but Linda just had a hard time getting up the hill an I had to take the carriers 20 feet ahead of me, set 'em down, come back down the hill, push Linda up to the carriers, and repeat that process until we got to the top of the hill. Then we were starting to work as a team and saying "Okay, how can we do this." And we're behind and we're getting ready to get eliminated, and we worked together in a stressful situation. We just took a couple of minutes out of the heat of the moment and thought about it. And those couple of minutes actually made a difference in us going to the second round and getting eliminated.
Reality TV World: A week later at that Roadblock with the paragliding, did the initial directions for that mention that if winds were too high that the contestant would have to walk down the hill?
Steve: If I remember correctly I think that we had to read the clue and we couldn't read the additional information until after one of the teams had picked, but don't hold me to it I could be wrong.
Linda: I'm pretty sure the way it works was that you could choose to do the paragliding, but you couldn't read the second clue of the second thing until after, but I couldn't be positive on that.
Reality TV World: Then going with that, what was your reaction when you found out that the wind was high and [Linda] would probably have to walk down? How long were you willing to wait for the wind to die down before you decided to walk down [the hill on foot]?
Steve: Well Linda was suited up and ready to fly, and teams were starting to run [down the hill] and my reaction was I was sitting there thinking 'You know, we've got three teams who are still behind us, and are actually an hour behind us because of the next flight. And I had to ask somebody and they said it takes an hour to get to the bottom of the hill, and it takes the average person one hour to get down the hill I figure it would take Linda two hours to get down the hill.
Worst case scenario, by the time she gets to the bottom of the hill we would be at least back up with the last [group] at the bottom of the hill and the race would still be on.
But going back to the question, I think we came to that decision within, what, five minutes Linda?
Linda: Five to ten minutes.
Steve: It was pretty quick, we didn't wait a while because we wanted to get a jump on the other teams that were still waiting to glide.
Linda: We didn't know if [it was gonna be windy all day] or not.
Reality TV World: They didn't show this on the show exactly, but Steve were you allowed to have input in that decision or Linda was that your decision alone when you decided walk down?
Linda: Well we hollered at each other (Laughs). Because he had to sit over on this bench or something. I was the one with the paragliding group, so [Steve and I] made the decision together that I should run.
Steve: Whatever she had [on her], like she had her jacket and stuff, which she really didn't need. I think she had the fanny pack and stuff like that, which she had to carry. I mean, whatever you have on you, she couldn't give me anything back and I couldn't give her anything.
Linda: And I didn't have any water, and I was on that mountain for four hours. (Steve laughs)
Reality TV World: Linda, can you talk a little bit about how you got lost? Last nightâ€™s episode made it look like you pretty much just [immediately turned] right at that fork and didn't really stop to see the [sign arrow]. Was that what really happened?
Linda: You know what, to this day I couldn't tell you how I got lost. I really don't know where that arrow was and I just missed it. I thought I was going the right way and so I just kept going, and actually I was really proud of myself. [I was like] 'Anybody can run downhill!'
Steve: The funny thing about that is she's not the only one to get lost. [Before] she was lost on the mountain she actually gave, I think it was two or three other teams that was down the hill had got lost and she gave them the correct way. (Laughs)
Linda: When I shoulda hid in the woods... (Laughs) But you don't think about that.
Reality TV World: About how long did you have to wait for a car to pick you up down on the highway, and how long was the ride back to the tram station?
Linda: You know, the thing was we weren't really allowed to do that. But after being lost for so long I figured we were probably out of it. I'd been up and down the mountains again and through fire trails and everything else trying to find my way back to where I had missed the arrows. So finally I went back down the mountain again and waited to ask for directions because I had no clue where I was.
A good lady offered me a ride and I was like 'Well, you know we're probably out of it already anyway so if I gotta take penalty it's not really gonna hurt a whole lot because I've already wasted so much time." I had to get back in the race somehow, so I was ready to take a penalty if that's what it meant.
Steve: But we didn't realize 'till later that she wasn't the only one who took a car. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Oh, she wasn't?
Steve: (Still laughing) No.
Reality TV World: Who else did?
Steve: From what I understand Kris did.
Linda: I don't know for sure, I don't know for sure.
Steve: He was one of the first ones to get lost, and he also made the mistake that he ran down the hill with the keys, and at the bottom of the hill by the [tram] your car is parked in one area but you had to wait at the clue box in another area. So since Kris had the keys when he actually got down to the clue box then he had to run all the way back to the car just to get the car. I know that he got pretty lost and I think he ended up taking a car ride.
And I forget if it was two or three other teams that had gotten lost, so it wasn't just Linda. Those signs were kinda low.
Reality TV World: How far [ahead] was the last team in ninth place before you guys left?
Steve: Left the mountain?
Reality TV World: Yeah, how far behind were you guys by the time she finished?
Steve: I think it was like 25 or 30 minutes. It wasn't a whole lot. Linda was like "We're out of it," and I was like "No," and I wrote it down and I showed it to her and I said we're still in this thing. It wasn't too far because we still had a good... I'd say it was at least an hour drive from that point, and a lot of things can happen between here and there so I was like "We're still in this thing."
It was a little distance, but I'd say the worst team that got lost other than us was maybe two-and-a-half hours and Linda's was [four hours].
Reality TV World: How'd you guys end up on the show -- whose idea was it? Was this the first time you have applied [for the show]?
Steve: It was my idea to do it. Actually we had sent in a tape like five years ago. It wasn't the best tape, nothing to be proud of. So we had sent in one tape previously but it was my idea and we're just big fans of the show and that's why we wanted to be a part of it. I mean it's so easy to sit at home and say "Look at this idiot, they don't know what they're doing," and we're like "We can do that." So that was part of the thing with me.
Linda: Well Steve really wanted to do it. I didn't think we had any kind of chance of even being picked at that point because I was 35 pounds overweight. So I was like I will support him in whatever he wants to do, and he's always done that for me so go ahead and do it and we'll just take it from there. I love [The Amazing Race] anyway, I think it's great and so I agreed to go ahead and went with him.
I was shocked when we got called to L.A., I was shocked when we got picked, I was shocked when we got eliminated.
Steve: Yeah, of course you saw us cross paths during the [pie Detour task]. But yeah, we crossed paths there and we had gotten turned around in one spot. So I think it was about 20 to 30 minutes. Once you get in there and you know you're separated from the other teams and you don't actually get to talk to them, but they said it was like 20 to 30 minutes, something like that.