The Amazing Race eliminated engaged couple Matt Cucolo and Ashley Gordon during the 26th season's ninth episode Friday night on CBS.

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Matt, 30, and Ashley, 28, are both hairstylists from Scarsdale, NY, who had been dating for three years prior to Matt popping the question on the Race. They were ousted from the show after arriving at the tenth leg's Pit Stop in last place. Prior to their ouster, they had survived a non-elimination leg.

In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Matt and Ashley talked about their The Amazing Race experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.

Reality TV World: When you took off on this leg and received your first clue, did you overlook the part about the possibility of finding a more advantageous flight or did you read that part but just assume all the teams would take the reserved, prearranged flight since it was so easily laid out for you?

Matt Cucolo: No, no, no. We looked for a flight. We looked everywhere for one.

Ashley Gordon: We sat there and looked for a while to find a more advantageous flight, and also...

Matt Cucolo: On the plane.

Ashley Gordon: We tried but we were toast.

Reality TV World: What exactly happened with the Detour tasks? It seemed like you guys wanted to do "Mamas" but then your taxi driver took you to "Papas" and so you got stuck doing that one? Is that how it unfolded?

Ashley Gordon: Yeah, we initially decided to do "Mamas" and then the taxi driver did actually take us to where we were supposed to go,  but we saw [Laura Pierson and Tyler Adams] there doing their challenge, and they were like, "No, I think that's 'Papas.'"

So then we got super frustrated and we got back in the cab and then he took us to "Papas," but we didn't actually realize -- we were just super confused. And when we look back at it, we're like, "Okay, well played, Tyler and Laura."

They threw us for a loop there because they were a little nervous that we had caught up. And then, you know, when [the driver] took us to "Papas," we were like, "Okay, you know what? Let's just do it. We're here; Let's not waste anymore time going back and forth."
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Reality TV World: How long did the Speed Bump take you guys to complete, and also, Matt, how about the Roadblock when you had to chop the sugarcane?

Ashley Gordon: The Speed Bump was relatively quick because I knew how to use the typewriter. So it was just a matter of finishing mine, helping Matt with his, and then you know, we overlooked it. We ran past it a few times, but once we got there, it was quick. And Matt, I mean, he did his Roadblock so quick.

Matt Cucolo: Yeah, the Roadblock, I saw Tyler and Laura and I saw Mike and Rochelle leaving once I got there. And then I said, "I have to do this quick." I did it extremely quick, and when we were done, I believe we were probably just 15 minutes behind them. So, we weren't that far behind, that's for sure.

Reality TV World: You both said in your final words your relationship grew over the course of the Race and you're stronger than ever. How is your relationship now and have you hashed out any wedding details since getting engaged on the show?

Ashley Gordon: Yes, we are still engaged (laughs) and everything is actually really great. We are planning the wedding. We're going to do a winter wedding next year. It's going to be in February and it's going along.

Matt Cucolo: Mhmm!

Reality TV World: Matt, your proposal almost came crashing down because you had left a fannypack at a task with the ring inside. What was going through your mind in that moment and did you think there was a chance it was going to be stolen or something?

Matt Cucolo: I didn't know what the heck was going to happen when I forgot my fannypack. I just freaked out as you could see on the episode. (Laughs) So, yeah, I was just hoping and praying that the fannypack was still there.

Not only did I have the ring in there, I had our passports, our money. If we didn't get back to that task for our things and it was gone or it wasn't there, then the Race was over. Everything was going through my mind -- the proposal, the ring -- it was nervewracking. But thank God it was there.

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Reality TV World: Ashley, since you didn't know about the ring at that point, what were you thinking in that moment?

Ashley Gordon: I absolutely thought he was overreacting -- just a little bit though because I could see him getting upset over losing our passports and all our money was in there. So, yes, it was enough for him to freak out. Because if we lost our passports, then we were pretty much done.

I had no idea about the ring, so I couldn't empathize with him there, but as far as passports and money and food and everything, yeah, I was a little bit nervous too. But his reaction was completely valid. I was just trying to calm him down a little bit. 

Reality TV World: Matt, you guys got so far behind in the non-elimination leg because of the Roadblock task in which you had to match a pair of shoes or clogs. What did you finally discover you were missing and how long were you there trying to finish that task?

Matt Cucolo: I was probably there for about 45 minutes to an hour after the teams left. And right in the beginning when other teams were there, I believe I had it in my hand and dropped it. I was overthinking it. When I started the Roadblock, I looked at the design on the shoe and I went back and all the shoes looked exactly the same -- all of the designs.

So I said, "It can't be that. It's got to be something bigger than this. It's got to be the shape of the shoe. It's going to be the inside of the shoe." And I was doing this for 45 minutes to an hour, looking at all the shoes -- literally every single shoe in there.

And, you know, every single time I showed her the shoe and was like "that's the shape," it was completely irrelevant because that's not what I was looking for. But once I finally, after 45 minutes, I zoned in on the shoe when I was feeling defeated and I saw a line on the shoe that was not there before. And that was that.

Reality TV World: Were Jenny Wu and Jelani Roy the only team you guys really had a problem with? And after you had U-Turned them, were you afraid they'd come after you even though you kind of apologized for targeting them?

Matt Cucolo: I wouldn't say I really apologized. I mean, I guess I did, but Jelani, I didn't have a problem with on the Race. It was Jenny. It was the way that she was in the Race. When each leg would begin, Jenny would kind of...

Ashley Gordon: Play dirty.

Matt Cucolo: I wouldn't say "play dirty." I think she kind of turned into, like, the Race does something to some people. And to her, it turns her into a different person. (Laughs)

Ashley Gordon: (Laughs)

Reality TV World: So it sounds like you probably weren't the only ones to notice that or feel that way.

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Matt Cucolo: Everybody noticed that. Yes.

Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Matt and Ashley's exclusive interview.