Exclusive: Brad and Victoria Hunt talk about 'The Amazing Race'
By John Bracchitta, 03/02/2009
The "Married Couple" team of Brad and Victoria Hunt may have been eliminated from The Amazing Race for their risky decision-making, but they'll maintain that they decisions were not mistakes.
For Brad, a 52-year-old distribution dispatcher, and Victoria, a 47-year-old tax manager, the risky decision to take a flight that would get the Columbus, OH couple to Bucharest, Romania ahead of many of the teams but included a connecting flight through Amsterdam had the potential to help them immensely. However it backfired instead, digging them into a hole they could get out of before they became the third team to be eliminated from the CBS reality travel competition.
On Monday, Brad and Victoria spoke to Reality TV World about why they decided to make the risky move to Amsterdam, how close they came to making up all of the ground the lost after the move failed, and how and why they managed to be the only team to complete the now infamous cheese hill challenge the way the instructions had intended the teams to.
Reality TV World: Both you and [Amanda Blackledge] and [Kris Klicka] were told on that first train ride that there was a slim chance that you'd arrive in time to able to make the 4:45PM flight. Amanda and Kris decided to still go for it any ways -- why did you guys decide not to?
Brad: They actually got to the airport a little bit earlier than us, so they had more time.
Reality TV World: How come they got there ahead of you if you were on the same...
Victoria: (Interrupting) They got off at a different exit.
Brad: Yeah they found a local that showed them a quicker way to get to the airport than we were able to get to, so they probably beat us there by 10-15 minutes, but that was enough time to get there. We were told by the people [we talked to] that there was no possible way that we could make it, so.. You know, it's a big airport too, so...
Reality TV World: Did you have any concerns about booking a flight that no other team was taking and required a connecting flight that had the potential to set you back, as it ended up doing?
Brad: There was some concern about that, but at the time we didn't know no other team was taking it. Munich is a huge airport. One thing they didn't show was our half-mile run through Munich Airport with the camera crew in tow shoving people out of the way, jumping in front of [people] to get all the way back there.
And then we got there and we saw no other teams were there and we kinda thought "Oh.." We kinda knew that it wasn't a good idea to ride on a plane alone, but then what are we gonna do, walk all the way back to the ticket counter and then find out that the place we wanted is now sold out? You gotta make a decision and you kinda gotta go with it.
So then it started getting foggy and we talked to the gate agent who was like "Oh no, no, no the fog will be even worse [in Amsterdam], the planes will be delayed even more at your connection so there's no chance you'll miss it."
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Victoria: We had like a posse of people standing around trying to assist us and they were all very convincing when they said to us "Your connecting flight will certainly be delayed so you shouldn't have a problem making the connection. And even if your connecting flight isn't delayed you still have enough [time] on this flight to get there."
It wasn't until five minutes before our plane landed in Amsterdam that we heard the pilot come on and say "Any flight leaving before 8:30PM will be departing. Any flight departing after 8:30PM has been canceled." I think our flight was 8:30PM.
It was just awful luck.
Reality TV World: Were there any other later flights going to [Bucharest] that you guys could have taken, before they got cancelled? Or was the [flight] you were going to take the last one [going to Bucharest] that night?
Victoria: The airport shut down. All flights.
Brad: Yeah, they told us there was not other flights. [No other] flights were going to anyplace that could possible connect to Bucharest.
Victoria: It was the worst possible situation you could imagine.
Reality TV World: Brad, you were shown worrying a little after you learned that your [initial Munich-to-Amsterdam] flight had been delayed. Did either of you guys consider scrapping the Amsterdam flight at that point, or -- as you said -- were you too far into it to go back at that point?
Brad: Well yeah, it's just kind of a hard thing because we're going with the best possible information we can get, which is from a local gate agent that says "It's delayed but it'll be okay. Don't worry about it."
Then it was delayed a little bit more and he still says "Don't worry about it," and then the more it's delayed the more you get past the point of no return until we said "Well we there's definitely no going back now, it's just not gonna work out."
We've watched [The Amazing Race] and we've seen, for example, teams who pick a challenge then can't do it, then they go pick a different challenge, then they can't do that and go back and do the first one and then they can't do that... At some point you've gotta make a decision and, unless you get some real solid contradictory evidence, you gotta go with what seems like the right thing to do. That's what we did and it didn't work out that time.
Reality TV World: Do you know how long the layover in Amsterdam was originally supposed to be?
Brad: Oh two minutes.
Reality TV World: Oh, so right in and right out?
Brad: Yeah it was just enough time... Actually they told us it was adequate time to catch our plane. It wasn't like w ere going to have to rush to get to the connecting flight to Bucharest in Amsterdam, but it wasn't more than an hour.
Reality TV World: You kind of mentioned this before, but after you learned that you had missed the flight, did you explore any other possible options to get to Bucharest instead of waiting for the 9:15AM flight? Or was there just nothing else?
Victoria: Well there wasn't enough money to take a cab...
Brad: And you can't, [the directions] said "Fly."
Reality TV World: You both seemed to be somewhat resigned to your fate after missed the flight. Did you think that, barring another team making a pretty big mistake, that you had any chance of getting back into the game?
Brad: Well, a couple things... One thing, we didn't think we'd made a mistake and I still don't think we did. We made a decision and it didn't work out in our way, but we're playing to win and not playing to hang out with the rest of he pack so it wasn't a mistake.
The other piece is that we had no idea what the status of the other teams were and as far as we knew they were delayed as much or even worse by fog on different flights and so, although it seemed very dire, without knowing their status [we] sucked it up and raced as hard as we can.
Victoria: We generally were not resigned. I don't think that I bought into "Our game is over" really until we were at the Pit Stop. There was always that possibility that another team royally screwed up. And then there was always that possibility that it was a non-elimination leg.
It was a slim chance, but it was enough for me to hold out hope and keep me going with as much enthusiasm and energy as I would've had had we not made that stupid plane decision.
Brad: And one thing that it was is that it wasn't so much being resigned to our fate, but it was focusing for us in terms of "Okay we have our work cut out for us and we cannot make a single mistake at all to get where we need to get" and we raced that entire leg and we didn't make any mistakes.
We clicked like a machine and I'm most proud of our performance on that leg because it was a long, hard leg and we made up a lot of time on those people, but when you get an 18 hour deficit that's pretty hard to make up.
Reality TV World: Actually that was going to be my next question, they didn't show it much, but about how long did it take you to finish the gymnastics challenge?
Brad: The producers said that Victoria was the best. She done gymnastics as a child and she went through it and did every single thing the first time around with no criticism, bing-bang-boom we're outta there.
Reality TV World: What about the "Vampire" task, it seemed like that may be pretty hard -- and not to mention creepy -- to be doing at night.
Victoria: It was a little bit spooky. I think the one upside to our little debacle was we were the only team that got to participate in the "Vampire" challenge in the dark. It was fun.
Brad: Yeah everyone shoulda done it in the dark, it was a great visual and a great challenge. I had a friend who called me this morning and told me "Hey man, at least you went down covered in blood."
I said "Yeah that should make anybody that has any questions about the plane have second thoughts about giving me shit about that."
Reality TV World: How did you react when you found out that [Victor Jih] and [Tammy Jih] had made some pretty big mistakes [during their leg], and how far did you finish behind them?
Brad: Man, I'll tell you, it was pretty frustrating because up to that point Victor and Tammy had pretty much been machines. They're very intelligent, very personable and they're very good at assembling information and figuring out what they need to do. They're very physical and they were the team to beat, so we kinda thought "Oh you know whatever."
But then as we saw them last night we thought "Man, they're not invincible." If we had stayed we coulda beat them because they made some stupid, stupid mistakes and we thought "They are not invincible," you know? We coulda taken em', we coulda won.
Victoria: What made yesterday's viewing a little bit more difficult because, you know it was difficult when we left and we had been through the "grieving process" and the memory of the Pit Stop in November. Then we kind of had to re-live it all again last week, but that was the first glimpse that we got of how poorly [Tammy and Victor] did on that particular leg and how close we could've come. That just made it that much more bittersweet.
Reality TV World: How [much time] was separating you [and Tammy and Victor]?
Brad: We understand that we were between four and six hours behind them eventually, so we made up quite a bit of time.
Reality TV World: Okay and you said that was [down] from an 18 hour deficit from the flight?
Reality TV World: Oh wow.
Victoria: I think that if we had been in the mix, in the real mix (Laughs), and been contenders and not been on that stupid flight, we woulda come out... I mean at the first Pit Stop we were number six, the second Pit Stop we were fifth. I'm certain that we would've been fourth, third or second. We would've been right up there.
Reality TV World: Last night you both touched upon the "difficult times" that you've gone through together in your lives. Could you go into some more detail about that?
Brad: Like difficult times we've gone through as a couple or individuals
Reality TV World: Well I guess either, there was a little [clip] where you both said that you had been through some difficult times.
Victoria: Those are kind of like separate and distinct... We came together ten years ago, and when we met had to overcome some uniquely challenging things in our lives. Mine had been of the physical nature, I had to overcome some physical disabilities, and then as I got older it just made me stronger and stronger and stronger and more bull-headed. I became the kind of person where if you told me "No, I can't do that [unintelligible" I'd be like "Really? No, no, no, no, no. I'm gonna go out and show you."
It's part of my personality. And Brad you can speak for your own hardships if you want (Laughs)
Brad: Well when I was younger and in my late teens I got into drugs and alcohol and had a lot of problems and was pretty much a degenerate alcoholic. I wasn't just kinda like one of your friends who drinks a little too much, I was at one time homeless, I've been to jail several times, many times, and lost many, many jobs and had a lot of misfortunes to go along with that kinda life And when I was 27, I guess, I was sick and tired of it for some reason and I was able to go and turn things around and I've been sober since.
I'm really glad the show didn't focus on that. It's not my primary identity and I think it's lame when they try to focus on the ex-drug addict/alcoholic who's trying to, whatever, prove something. But it does really... it forms who I am.
Reality TV World: Yeah, and congratulations on that by the way. Moving on from that, could you talk a little bit about that cheese challenge in the first round? How difficult was it?
Victoria: (Laughs) We rocked!
Brad: We... the thing is... When they explain everything in the pre-production [meeting] they're like "Read the clue. What we intend when we write the clue is we mean the plain English meaning of the words on the page." The words on the page were "Use the cheese carriers to carry the cheese up and down the hill." So we did that and we helped each other out. We knew how to do it because we've done a lot of adventure racing on different steep terrains so that [hill] wasn't that difficult.
But by the time we realized that a lot of the teams were getting away with not using their carriers and rolling the cheese down hill, that crazy stuff, we were already more than halfway down on the second trip and we realized "Well we're doing pretty good the way the way we're doing it and there's no reason to slide down this hill covered with sheep shit, let's just walk the rest of the way down. We kinda thought the rest of 'em were gonna be penalized and they weren't, I'm not saying they should've been, but we thought that was...
Victoria: That had to be one of our most impressive moments. I think that we had them stunned, stunned that we were actually able to do the challenge in the manner in which it was intended. [But the funny thing] is that "the manner in which it is intended" was not really intended, (Laughs)
Those carriers were waiting to fall apart at the slightest shifting of your body. (Unintelligible) That's the way it's supposed to be done.
Brad: And we had the unintended benefit of being able to, at the end, moon [The Amazing Race host] Phil Keoghan. (Both laugh)
Reality TV World: So you were the only team to complete [that challenge] using just the holders?
Brad: Mike White actually got down alright [as well].
Reality TV World: What teams did you get along with the best? The worst?
Brad: We got along with everyone. Early in the race when the producers come in and they say "You're about to embark on the greatest experience of your life. At the end of this thing you're gonna be friends with all these people," and I thought "You know what? I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win a $1 million, so really suck on that."
But you know what? We did end up being friends with everyone there and between all of us -- which we all call ourselves "The Cheese Hill Gang" because it's the one challenge that we all did in common -- we send 10-30 emails a day back and forth that we all just copy each other on. Every stupid little thing, every little thing that gets said on some little forum. All kinda of stupid stuff gets sent back and forth. We're very close and plan to meet in two weeks for a cast viewing party.
Reality TV World: What was your favorite or least favorite experience on The Amazing Race?
Victoria: I had a couple of really awesome experiences. The bungee jump was absolutely incredible but you know what, the pie throwing was a great deal of fun too. [It was a great chance for Brad and I] to be a little down and dirty and laugh and it was just funny. It was hilarious, I was laughing so hard I was crying.
Brad: I would say me favorite experience was the train ride through the Swiss Alps. (Laughs) My least favorite experiences was cooling my heals in the nicest Holiday Inn in the world in Amsterdam.
Reality TV World: Is there anything that you expected to make it onto the show that was edited out?
Brad: When we got to Bucharest we got a taxi ride to the gymnastics' studio and it was straight out of a James Bond movie. This guy was driving 50 miles-per-hour through rush hour traffic, missing cars by an inch. He'd go flying up on two lanes of stopped traffic and we'd thought he was gonna smash up into the backs and he'd jump up, drive on the railroad tracks, cut across the intersection, go the wrong way down a one way street honking his horn and flashing his lights. Absolutely insane, and we were like "Yes!! [the whole way] We got places to be. We'll either die or we'll get there, it's one or the other and we're not going down without a fight."
Victoria: That was wild.
Reality TV World: It seemed like [Margie Adams and [Luke Adams] really inspired a bunch of people out there with their communication skills and hard work. Could you both talk about what you thought about them a little?
Brad: I don't know. In the first part of the race we were frequently within a place or two of them, we traveled together a lot. When we stayed in Stechelberg overnight we stayed in a hostile and shared a bunk house with them, well at least those two, and me and Vic, [Mel White] and [Mike White], and they're both really nice people. I like 'em both a lot and I'm proud of them. I know Luke is extremely proud of himself and it's really nice to see that. I get messages from Luke quite frequently on Facebook and we're all still very close. Luke is having the ride of his life. For a young guy to have an experience like this is really special so I really feel good for him.
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] or had you done it before?
Victoria: (Laughs) I have a rather long history of applying for reality shows. I was really hell-bent on getting on Survivor and I had applied for that show many times and hadn't gotten very far in the process. At one point I had made a plan to [to get on Survivor] and I sent the casting director a photo of Brad and I together. The photo pushed us into contention and she wrote me back right away [and said] "How about The Amazing Race?"
It was done in an instant. (Unintelligible)
Brad: Yeah that's right. She tried to get on Survivor for six or eight seasons and the minute they saw me... She's a Hollywood casting director, she can see a star when she [sees one], so you know... (Both laugh)