Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' couple Isabelle Du and Dennis Hour talk (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/07/2014
The Amazing Race eliminated Isabelle Du and Dennis Hour during Friday night's second broadcast of the CBS reality competition's 25th season.
The "Model and Accountant" from Tustin, CA, became the second team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the Race's second Pit Stop at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, in last place.
Isabelle and Dennis' fate in the competition came down to a taxi race against "Mother and Daughter" Shelley Porter and Nici Porter after both teams struggled with punting in London, England.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Isabelle and Dennis talk about their short-lived The Amazing Race experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion of their interview.
Reality TV World: How far behind Shelley and Nici do you think you two finally made it to the Pit Stop?
Dennis Hour: It was very close. When we got off -- when we were docking our boat, they had just left. So we were already five to 10 minutes behind them.
Isabelle Du: Yeah.
Dennis Hour: So, it was very close.
Isabelle Du: Very, very close. I mean, like, I think that's why both teams were so emotional, because we knew that we were fighting for last, and it was such a close call and so neck and neck that any little element -- like finding a cab or anything -- could change the game.
Reality TV World: Were you two pretty convinced you were going to be eliminated, because obviously, Isabelle, you got very emotional at the end of that leg. Did you think there was a good chance you could get a non-elimination leg?
Isabelle Du: You know, technically in past seasons, they've done it a few times. But typically, they don't do the non-elims until a little bit later, you know what I mean?
Dennis Hour: I was hoping. We were hoping. In my mind, we were hoping it would be a non-elimination just because it was so close and the punting was so difficult for every team. So we thought there could've been a chance there was a non-elimination. But when we heard there wasn't, I think Isabelle was a little -- we were both very emotional about it.
Isabelle Du: I know. (Laughs) We were already so emotional. I mean, you always kind of hope -- I think that also, you have a gut instinct and that's another thing that kind of kicks in. Plus, it's like, for us, it's such a dream to be on the show.
We tried out three times, and so to be on it and be so close, and to lose it so fast like that, it's really heartbreaking and you're just so disoriented and you're so stressed out and you're frazzled. When you want something so bad, you know, and you're about to lose it, it's hard not to be emotional about it, honestly.
Reality TV World: Would you say your downfall in this leg was the punting or do you think it was a combination of things -- like getting on that second flight to London and what not?
Dennis Hour: You know what? When we got off the second flight in London, we jetted to the top of the pack. We got to our pancake-flipping thing very quickly and we got that done before the firefighters [Michael Ward and Scott Strazzullo]. We even got to the punting before some people on the first flight.
So, we were a very strong team coming out of the gate in London. We were very determined to get [ahead]. But what happened, I feel like, what threw us from behind was the punting and the current.
We weren't able to navigate through the current, and I think that was one of our biggest downfalls. Also, we were so -- we were racing our race, but we kind of failed to be aware of where all the other teams were at in terms of placing.
Isabelle Du: Yeah, we caught up really fast. We were ahead of so many teams. And to be honest with you, I think being on the second flight didn't really matter because a lot of those first teams chose the marching [Detour task], and apparently, that was really, really tough. That was way tougher than the pancake one. So it's almost like, by being on the second flight, we had an advantage.
Because it was like, "Everyone is probably going to do the marching one, so let's do the pancake one." And that helped us get ahead. But again, we evened out. We all kind of evened out at the punting one because that was difficult for everybody, except maybe for people who are well aware of how to navigate currents and water and stuff. There's nothing you can really do to prepare for punting, honestly. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: I was going to ask more about the punting. Dennis, looking back, do you think there was a better way to handle that boat or did it kind of boil down to a simple strength issue?
Dennis Hour: You know what? I think, you know, apart from strength, I think Isabelle and I had the strength -- not as strong as the other teams -- but it was also a technique. Because we were watching other [punters] in the water and some of them were kids! They were punting easily.
So I definitely knew it was definitely not a strength [problem]. It was a technique. This stuff is easier for, let's say, [surfers Bethany Hamilton and Adam Dirks] because they're used to that. The challenge was made for them.
Isabelle Du: Yeah.
Dennis Hour: Isabelle and I, we live out in Newport and there's no shallow waters out here, so there's no punting out here. We would've trained if there was punting, but I think that's something that we weren't used to doing, especially in shallow water. Some parts were shallow and some were deep, so we were slipping and falling.
Isabelle Du: Yeah, I think people watching it kind of instantly see it as, like, "Oh, you need the muscles for it." It's not a physical thing. Honestly, this game is like 50 percent physical and 50 percent luck.
And a lot of that punting, like Dennis said, a lot of the professional punters made it seem so effortless. They were not struggling. They weren't even straining. It wasn't like they were digging in. We were digging into it. So, I almost think maybe we had to be less physical about it. (Laughs)
Dennis Hour: If you watch the show again, the punting, every team had a problem, and they all punted differently. They weren't punting properly, and a lot of them got off-stream by grabbing on to the wall. By the time we figured out we could grab onto the wall, we were racing for survival.
Isabelle Du: It was chaos, man. Everyone was bumping. It was like bumper cars but like bumping punting. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: You both said you were extremely prepared going into the Race. Could you talk about what your particular strategy was? Did you prepare for Roadblocks in terms of each other's strengths and weaknesses, or what preparations were there?
Isabelle Du: We studied all the winning teams and what they did, like [Ernie Halvorsen and Cindy Chiang]. We read how they did the Lego thing, where they bought Legos and they turned on the TV, they turned on the stereo, and one person would instruct the other teammate how to build the Legos. So it was about building the Legos while having distractions. We did that.
I even set up a fake The Amazing Race route for [Dennis], where there were different Roadblocks, you know what I mean? I had him try to find in an entire parking lot where his next clue was. So he had to go through all the different parking spaces.
So we were training for our patience and even, like, vision stuff. I borrowed a bunch of [optical illusions] and Where's Waldo books and we just trained our eyes. Because we thought, you know, people always miss clues -- they walk right past them and stuff. Strength-wise, we did everything. We did rock climbing, we did kayaking, we did...
Dennis Hour: Crossfit.
Isabelle Du: ... crossfit for a bit. We ran with our backpacks. We would run our errands; We didn't even take our car anymore. If we went to the post office, we would run to the post office. If we had to go to the grocery store, we ran to the grocery store. And we had the smallest backpacks out of everybody -- everybody. Like, my backpack was only 10 pounds and Dennis' was 15 pounds.
We watched all the videos of Ernie and Cindy, saying they trained so much, but the one thing that they didn't do -- or they wish they had done more -- was running with their backpacks on. So that's what Dennis and I focused a lot on.
And I mean, we get a lot of criticism. Some people are like, "You over-prepared." And I'm like, "How could you be over-prepared for The Amazing Race for a million dollars?" (Laughs) Come on!
Dennis Hour: I don't think you can ever over-prepare. It's better to be over-prepared than being under-prepared.
Isabelle Du: Absolutely.
Dennis Hour: Yeah, it definitely didn't do us wrong for over-preparing.
Isabelle Du: I mean, if you race all over again, it's going to be, like, we would've been in different places -- everybody would've switched places. It's 50 percent physical and 50 percent luck.
Please check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Isabelle and Dennis.