'The Amazing Race' crowns Nat Strand and Kat Chang champs
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/13/2010
The Amazing Race crowned "Doctors/Friends" Nat Strand and Kat Chang its first all-female champions during Sunday night's finale broadcast of the CBS reality competition's seventeenth edition.
"It's about time a girl-girl team won The Amazing Race and we're both just really proud and honored to be that team. It's been probably one of the best experiences of our entire lives. And Kat and I both think it's been life-changing," Nat said after her team's victory.
"It's just priceless. It really was," Kat added.
Nat, a 31-year-old doctor from Scottsdale, AZ, and Kat, a 35-year-old doctor from Santa Monica, CA, were the first team to cross the seventeenth-season's finish line in Los Angeles, CA and claimed the $1 million grand prize.
"Home Shopping Hosts" Brook Roberts and Claire Champlin finished second.
"Claire just shocked me, like she's hitting watermelon in the face, scaling down a canyon -- the idea of being a strong woman either means that you're either grumpy boots or you're this really masculine gnarly chick. No, you can be feminine and tap into that femininity while still being a very strong woman. I think The Amazing Race was full of flare -- Brook and Claire flair," Brook said.
"Dating Couple" Jill Haney and Thomas Wolfard finished third.
"This has been a -- I don't even know why I'm crying. Why am I crying?" Jill said.
"Because we've gone through a lot," Thomas replied.
"It was a really good," Jill started.
"It was a really special experience I think is what she's trying to say. We just feel really fortunate that we were able to do this together, and I certainly wouldn't have done it with anybody else than her. And I'm very proud of her," Thomas interjected.
The Amazing Race's twelfth and final seventeenth-season episode began with the three remaining teams leaving the Temple of Heaven, an imperial shrine built in 1897 for the first and only emperor of Korea, that had served as the Pit Stop of the Race's eleventh leg.
As the first team to reach the Race's eleventh Pit Stop, Jill, a 27-year-old hair stylist from Marina Del Ray, CA, and Thomas, a 30-year-old ad sales director also from Marina Del Ray, CA were the first team to depart at 3:57AM. Upon opening their clue, they learned they needed to fly more than 6,000 miles to their final destination in Los Angeles, CA and travel to the Port of Long Beach where they would receive their next clue.
Brook, a 27-year-old home shopping host and former Miss Oregon from San Diego, CA, and Claire, a 30-year-old home shopping host from Reno, NV, left the Pit Stop in second place at 4:23AM and were followed by Nat and Kat at 4:27AM.
However, although they had left the Pit Stop at different times, all three teams ended up on an equal playing field when they all booked tickets on the same first available flight to Los Angeles.
After they arrived in Los Angeles, the teams left the airport and raced to the Long Beach location. Nat and Kat were the first team to arrive and were followed by Jill and Thomas in second place and Brook and Claire in third place.
Once they arrived at the Port of Long Beach, the teams learned they had to ride a tiny elevator to the top of the crane, receive a clue, get strapped into a bungee swing and plummet 150 feet toward the water. Once they got back to the pier and climbed to dry land, they could then open their next clue.
All three teams expressed some concern about the bungee drop. Nat was afraid of heights, while Brook feared free-falling and Jill was nervous. But all the girls succeeded after convincing themselves they had to do it and it was mind over matter.
Nat and Kat, remaining in the lead, became the first team to complete the task. Jill and Thomas were the second team to complete the bungee drop and Brook and Claire followed shortly thereafter in third place. However, Brook's series of screams were seemingly heard around the world.
After the teams completed the bungee drop task, they received a clue which instructed them to ride helicopters to a surprise destination. The teams got on the helicopters in the same order they completed the previous task.
The helicopters took the teams to the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Nat and Kat were the first team to arrive, and they were followed by Jill and Thomas and Brook and Claire.
Once they arrived at the Rose Bowl, the teams learned that it would serve as their final Roadblock location and the difficult task would require one member of each team to work on a portion of a float that takes upwards of 10,000 man hours to complete and painstakingly decorate three sections of the official float of the Tournament of Roses organization. After they finished their work to the satisfaction of the floral director, the 2009 Rose Queen would give them their next clue.
Nat opted to do the Roadblock for her team, and was later joined by Thomas and Brook.
Jill and Thomas had strategically planned their prior Roadblock decisions to be able to have Thomas complete the Race's final Roadblock task, but when he discovered it had to do with decorating, he admitted Jill would have been better equipped to handle the assignment.
Nat and Kat were the first team to successfully complete the task, and they were then followed by Jill and Thomas and Brook and Claire.
After completing the Roadblock task, Nat and Kat received the Race's final clue, which instructed them to solve three riddles: "I am Sancho Panza's master;" "I am the place to hear The Symphony in the Glen;" "Monroe's Year of the Itch." Once the answers were determined, the teams would then have to make their way to that location where they would receive their next clue.
The teams hustled to find Internet access or ask knowledgeable helpers if they knew the answers. Brook and Claire requested their cab driver take them to a hotel where they could access the Internet themselves. Nat and Kat found the answers quickly thanks to the help of their taxi driver's dispatcher, but Jill and Thomas had trouble finding any means of research to find the answer to their next location.
After their taxi driver repeatedly confused his GPS device with the Internet and their attempt to stop and ask locals for help also failed, Jill and Thomas began to fear the delay would probably cost them the game.
Nat and Kat were the first team to arrive at Stage 7 at Quixote Studios in Griffith Park.
Once there, the teams encountered a giant screen that featured photos of 48 different people wearing hats, 11 of which were greeters who welcomed them into the Pit Stop. Using the control pad, the teams were instructed to select the 11 greeters on their own TV screens in the correct order. When they did so, legendary game show host Bob Eubanks would give them their next clue.
Brook and Claire were the second team to arrive at Quixote Studios and were later followed by Jill and Thomas.
The teams learned they had to pay attention along the way and test their memory, and Nat and Kat proved they had done so as they were the first team to complete the trivia game. They were then followed by Brook and Claire and Jill and Thomas.
Once the teams completed the trivia game, they received their final clue which instructed them to travel by taxi through LA's congested streets to the finish line at Greystone Mansion. The first team to check in would win The Amazing Race and the $1 million.
Nat and Kat remained in first place throughout this entire leg of the Race, resulting in the doctors and friends team crossing the finish line first.
Kat had a few proud words to say about her teammate Nat, who suffered from diabetes yet still managed to make it through the Race.
"Nat's been a great teammate. Of course I knew she had a lot of strength, but the degree had just boggled my mind. It hasn't been easy but she's never once complained and so I just couldn't be more proud of her. I can't imagine doing this with anyone else. You really are my sister, and I know that this is something we'll share for the rest of our lives," Kat explained.
The seventeenth edition of The Amazing Race covered four continents, 30 cities, 32,000 miles.