Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' dating couple C.J. Harris and Lebya Simpson talk (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/04/2015
The Amazing Race eliminated C.J. Harris and his girlfriend Lebya Simpson during the 26th season's second episode Friday night on CBS.
C.J. Harris, a 26-year-old IT technician, and Lebya Simpson, a 25-year-old medical support assistant, were ousted from the race around the world after they arrived at the second Pit Stop in last place. The couple is from Tuskagee, AK. C.J. and Lebya have been dating for 10 years although they've known each other for 15 years.
C.J. and Lebya had started the leg in last place and basically never recovered. It all started with them taking the latest train into Nagano, Japan.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, C.J. and Lebya talked about their The Amazing Race experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be the second team eliminated? Because obviously you said you considered yourselves strong.
C.J. Harris: Yes. It was surprising. Everybody goes into the Race, like, you don't ever expect to get eliminated, period. So getting eliminated second was a surprise.
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, it was definitely -- I was really, really disappointed. We felt like we could do so much better, but we just had a lot of things going against us. It was definitely heartbreaking, but I cried afterwards. It was definitely heartbreaking.
Reality TV World: How far behind Hayley Keel and Blair Townsend did you finally arrive at the Pit Stop?
C.J. Harris: An hour?
Lebya Simpson: I want to say, because we started off kind of late. I want to say probably about three hours behind them. That's just an estimate. Because we really didn't have a chance of being [closer] behind them. We knew that it would be a real longshot to catch up to somebody because things had taken us so long.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask if that train you missed played any role in your ouster, but there was only a 20-minute gap between the two trains, so I'm assuming that didn't have any effect at all.
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, we were stopped for at least 30 to 45 minutes, but missing the train definitely didn't have much of an effect. Because right when we missed it, we got aboard the next one. I think it even left early, so it wasn't a big deal to miss the train.
Reality TV World: Based on how they showed this scene on TV, it seemed like you missed the first train because you were talking to the cameras but also taking a selfie. What actually happened there and how would you respond to viewers criticizing that you two didn't take the Race very seriously?
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Lebya Simpson: I would definitely say, with the train, there were only three doors that actually opened to board the train, and it was at the other end of the platform. So the platform we were on -- which is the same platform, but it's just really, really long -- we were near a door but we didn't know that door wasn't going to open.
So, it was not even a mistake but it just [set us back]. We don't have anything like the train [at home], so we weren't used to it. But we thought the door that we were at was going to open, but it didn't open. Like I said, there were only three doors that actually opened to board the train.
Reality TV World: Lebya, how long did it take you to complete the Roadblock task in which you had to solve that Japanese puzzle box?
Lebya Simpson: It took me probably about 30 minutes. Once I finally figured out how to do it, it was fairly easy. But what they didn't show on TV was that it was kind of hard to say the saying we had to [recite].
I probably had the most trouble with that. (Laughs) But that Japanese Roadblock, it was an awesome puzzle. I definitely enjoyed that. It was kind of nerve wracking too because you had to just sit on the ground and it was cold out there, but it was definitely an experience.
Reality TV World: How long did it take you to do the Detour? And what did the noodles taste like because I was surprised to see some Racers dislike or even spit them out.
C.J. Harris: I was so hungry so they tasted great to me!
Lebya Simpson: Also, the ice skating challenge, they didn't show that. I thought that was the funniest thing ever. We tried it, and I think we knew at that point we were kind of eliminated by that point. So we just wanted to try it anyway. So we enjoyed both of them.
Reality TV World: In the first leg, Lebya, you were shown saying you guys totally underestimated the Race. What did you mean by that? Were you just referring to how physically demanding it was or how difficult it was to navigate your way around?
Lebya Simpson: Yeah, definitely about the navigation part. It wasn't physically demanding, because I think there's so much adrenaline you're pumping that it secures you for a long time and you're actually okay. But it was just getting [around] that was our main problem.
It was so frustrating because we couldn't get anybody to really help us. So I didn't think we'd have that much trouble with the navigating part. I thought that would've been the least of our problems, but it ended up being our biggest problem.
Reality TV World: Also in the first leg, you two chose not to U-Turn anybody. Was that because you were pretty much certain you were in last place?
C.J. Harris: We definitely knew that we were behind but it was also because, I mean, you don't want to U-Turn anybody on the first leg. You're not necessarily trying to make friends or anything, but you just want to [play it safe] kind of thing. If we needed to do it, we would have. But when we got to the board, a team had already been U-Turned.
Lebya Simpson: I think we were the last ones at the cluebox too, so we knew nobody was really behind us.
Reality TV World: Why do you think you ultimately struggled so much with directions? Did you have bad luck with your cab drivers or were the clues sort of confusing?
C.J. Harris: It wasn't the directions we had a problem with. It was getting the directions. Like, people were literally just looking at us like they had never seen black people before or something. So we had a hard time getting people to help us. We really, really, really had a hard time just getting people to say anything.
Lebya Simpson: Once we finally did get directions, after the dance, we felt pretty good. Leaving the dance, we had some teams behind us. We saw somebody after that whom we thought gave us good directions, but they ended up being terrible directions.
She told us the part with the U-Turn board was actually a pastry shop. So we followed her directions to the letter, but they just ended up being wrong. So, I think it's just a gamble when you're out there just trying to figure out whom to trust and whom to actually listen to.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of C.J. and Lebya's exclusive interview with Reality TV World.