The Amazing Race's seventeenth season began with the competition's 11 teams meeting Phil at the starting line in Gloucester, MA. Once there, he informed them that the new Race edition would feature a new twist.
"There is a element in this Race that will be a real game-changer," Phil said.
"As you know, the first team to check-in to the Pit Stop receives a prize. Well at the end of this first leg, if your team checks in first you will receive the most important prize that we have ever given away. It's called the Express Pass... [and] you can use it at any time before or during a challenge that you don't want to complete. All you have to do is hand over the Express Pass, skip the task, get the next clue, and move on!"
In addition, Phil also revealed that there were two flights to the racers' first destination -- one that only had tickets for three teams and a second flight that had room for eight teams but would depart 30 minutes later.
Phil then signaled the start of the race and teams raced to their bags and ripped open their first clue -- which instructed them to drive themselves to Logan International Airport in Boston, fly to London, and then drive to Stonehenge.
Ironically, Ron and Tony were the first team to arrive at the airport and book tickets on the earlier 7:15PM American Airlines flight.
"Newly Dating Couple" Chad Waltrip and Stephanie Smith were the second team to arrive at the airport terminal, however they had a hard time finding the specially marked American Airlines check-in counter, resulting in "Dating Couple" Jill Haney and Thomas Wolfard becoming the second team to book tickets on the flight.
Chad and Stephanie then managed to find the check-in counter ahead of "Beach Volleyball Partners" Katie Seamon and Rachel Johnston, who were the fourth team to arrive at the airport but ended up having to book tickets on the later 7:45PM Virgin Atlantic flight along with the seven other teams.
"Ivy League A Cappella Singers" Connor Diemand-Yauman and Jonathan Schwartz struggled to find their way to the airport and arrived well after the other teams.
"We realized we have such bad navigational skills [that] we're just like screwed!" Jonathan told the other racers after they applauded his team's arrival. "We've like, okay, we're not even going to get out of Boston!"
Jill and Thomas were the first team out of Heathrow Airport after their flight arrived in London at 6:57AM and were followed by Ron and Tony and Chad and Stephanie.
"Home Shopping Hosts" Brook Roberts and Claire Champlin were the first team to leave the airport after their flight landed at 7:18AM and were followed by "Doctors/Friends" Nat Strand and Kat Chang, "Dating Couple" Nick DeCarlo and Vicki Casciola and the flight's five other teams.
However nearly all the teams appeared to get lost on their way to Stonehenge, resulting in the teams arriving at the tourist attraction in a significantly different order than their airport departures.
In addition, "Birth Mother/Daughter" Andie DeKroon and Jenna Sykes also lost valuable time -- despite the efforts of Connor and Jonathan, who stopped to help them -- when Jenna rode the clutch of her team's vehicle too much, causing it to stall out in traffic.
Nat and Kat ended up being the first team to arrive at Stonehenge, where the teams received clues that instructed them drive to "the castle that is the opposite of nor'easter" -- which they had to determine was Eastnor Castle.
Jill and Thomas and Katie and Rachel were the next two teams to arrive at Stonehenge. They were then followed by Brook and Claire, "Father/Daughter" Gary Ervin and Mallory Ervin, Connor and Jonathan, Andie and Jenna, Chad and Stephanie, Nick and Vicki, "Father/Son" Michael Wu and Kevin Wu, and Ron and Tony.
Jill and Thomas were the first team to decipher the clue and arrive at Eastnor Castle and were followed by Nat and Kat and Brook and Claire, who decided to team-up and work together in an all-woman foursome.
They were followed by Chad and Stephanie, Katie and Rachel, Connor and Jonathan, Michael and Kevin, and Gary and Mallory -- who had initially teamed-up with Connor and Jonathan but suffered a flat tire during the drive.
While several of the earlier teams also got lost on their way to the castle, Andie and Jenna, Nick and Vicki, and Ron and Tony appeared to struggle much more than the others and were the final three teams to find the castle.
Once at the castle, the teams had to climb a ladder to the top of a castle wall which was being guarded by a "mob of peasants" that poured flirty water on them as they climbed and then retrieve a medieval flag from the castle wall.
While most of the teams retrieved a flag without problem, Nick and Vicki -- who had previously admitted she had never heard of Stonehenge prior to The Amazing Race -- lost additional time when they didn't realize the flags were on the castle wall and frantically asked the peasants if they had a flag for them.
After retrieving the flag, the teams had to take it to a dock and use an ancient boat to carefully travel across a moat and reach a knight who would give them their next clue. Nearly all the teams struggled to balance themselves in the shallow, circular boats and had to attempt the crossing multiple times after capsizing and sinking.
Upon finding the knight, the teams learned it was time for the Race's first Roadblock task. Dubbed "Defeat the Warrior," it required one member of each team to use a ballista, a giant medieval slingshot-like weapon, to fire melons at a suit of armor 50 feet away and topple a suit of armor. Once the top of the armor was toppled, a jester who would give the teams their next clue.
Jill and Thomas, Brook and Claire, and Nat and Kat were the first three teams to begin the Roadblock, with Thomas, Claire, and Nat opting to do the task for the their teams.
Jill and Thomas were the first team to complete the Roadblock and receive their next clue, which instructed them to search the castle's sprawling grounds and locate the leg's Pit Stop. After arriving first at the Pit Stop, Phil presented them with the Express Pass, which he said can be used through the end of the eighth leg of the Race.
Nat and Kat then finished the Roadblock and checked-in at the Pit Stop in second place as Brook and Claire were joined by Katie and Rachel and Rachel began attempting the task.
However things took a dangerous turn for Claire when one of her melons got caught in her launcher, resulting in it recoiling back in her direction and slamming her directly in the face.
"Are you okay?" Brook asked.
"I can't feel my face," Claire said. "I have the worst headache ever!"
"I don't doubt it," Brook replied.
"Okay, so what do we do now?" Claire asked.
"You have to finish," Brook said.
"What! I can't even see straight!" Claire said.
"There's no out... they don't call it The Amazing Race for nothing," Brook replied.
Claire then resumed the Roadblock and she and Rachel were joined by Connor and Chad, who began doing the task for their own teams.
"That's a tough girl, like another girl could have just sat there and cried," Rachel noted afterwards.
Claire hit her armor with her second post-injury attempt, however Connor and Rachel also hit their own armors shortly thereafter -- resulting in a three-team footrace to the Pit Stop.
Connor and Jonathan ended up arriving at the Pit Stop in third place and were followed seconds behind by Brook and Claire as well as Katie and Rachel.
"I've never run that hard in my life!" Jonathan said afterward.
Chad then completed the Roadblock before Michael and Kevin or and Gary and Mallory arrived, however he and Stephanie struggled to find the Pit Stop -- resulting in Kevin and Gary both completing the task and arriving at the Pit Stop with their partners first.
Chad and Stephanie finally checked into the Pit Stop in eighth place and were followed by Andie and Jenna in ninth place.
Nick and Vicki arrived at the Pit Stop in tenth place after they lost more time when they failed to realize the shallow, circular boats near the moat's dock were the medieval boats they needed to use to cross the water.
"Even though it's a short-lived moment, to be with my best friend, to help him live a dream -- hey, life is good," Ron said after he and Tony reached the Pit Stop in last place.
"You know, he's one of those people that when everything gets tough, I can call him. He's one of the most supportive people I know in my life and I'm just happy that I'm blessed enough to have a friend like this, it's a gift from god."
(Photo credit CBS)
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