"I can't even believe it... I'm really speechless," TK told host Phil Keoghan after he crossed the Finish Line with Rachel. "None of this even seems real. It's kind of freaking me out."
Rachel, a 23-year-old florist and business owner, and TK, a 22-year-old substitute teacher -- both of whom reside in Huntington Beach, CA -- were the first team to reach the race's Finish Line in Anchorage, AK and claim the $1 million grand prize.
"This whole things was such a crazy roller coaster with so many ups and downs," said TK. "To do it with Rachel, I think our relationship has only grown through this whole thing. And for that, that's more important than any of this for me."
"He knows this is a dream for me to be on this amazing adventure," said Christina, a 26-year-old political analyst from Washington DC, about her father. "To run it with him, there's no one else in this whole entire world I would run this race with except for my dad. I'm just so happy to be here with him right now."
"I feel real grateful that even though I didn't come up with first place," added Ron, a 58-year-old vice-president of sales from Tacoma, WA. "I come up with the first place in my daughter's heart. The fact that I changed for the better... I had the elation of bonding with Christina for the entire race, and that was just joy that I cannot express. I am a new man!"
"Grandfather/Grandson" Donald Jerousek and Nicolas Fulks were the third and final team to reach the Finish Line, with Phil informing Don -- a retired 68-year-old from Elkhorn, WI -- that he was officially the oldest person to ever make it to the Finish Line in The Amazing Race history.
"I always said that I could do this competition, but now I had a chance to prove it," said Don. "The thing that made me the happiest was that I could go all the way to every leg."
"Aside from winning, my main goal was to just come here and be on the mat and race around the world and have a great time with my grandfather," said Nick, a 23-year-old pilot who is originally from Chicago, IL. "I got everything I wanted from it and more."
The Amazing Race 12's eleventh and final episode began with the three remaining teams leaving Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Plaza in Taipei, Taiwan, which served as the tenth leg's Pit Stop.
Ron and Christina -- the first team to reach the race's tenth Pit Stop -- were the first team to depart at 9:47AM. After opening their clue, Ron and Christina learned they needed to fly more than 4,500 miles to Anchorage, AK, and make their way to 6th Avenue Outfitters -- an outdoor adventures store -- to pick up some gear and their next clue.
TK and Rachel were the second team to depart the Pit Stop, leaving at 10:30AM, and were followed by Nick and Don at 10:37AM. All of the teams booked the same flight to Anchorage via China Air, but Ron and Christina were determined to keep their lead and found the outfitter's address on the Internet in the airport's lounge.
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The flight landed in Anchorage and all the teams ran through the terminal to get a taxi, with Ron and Christina in the lead, TK and Rachel behind them and Nick and Don bringing up the rear. They reached the outfitters in that order and received their next clue, which told them they needed to travel to Ship Creek Boat Launch to find their next clue.
"Do you know where it is?" asked TK.
"I think so," answered the driver.
Ron and Christina arrived at the boat launch and were met by the final leg's Detour task, where they had to choose between "Cut the Cod" or "Grab the Crab." In "Cut the Cod," teams had to cut through several 50 pound cod and search for a miniature clue hidden inside one of the fish. In "Grab the Crab," teams had to jump into the hull of a boat that contained over 500 live crabs, in which they had to find one crab that was marked by race colors.
Ron and Christina chose "Cut the Cod" and were surprised at the size of the fish, which Ron described as "monsters." TK and Rachel's cab driver dropped them of five minutes away from the actual location, as Christina quickly found the clue inside the cod.
Despite the tiny print on the clue, Christina was still able to read it and learned teams had to now travel over 60 miles by taxi to a boat landing, where they'd take a high-speed boat to 20-Mile Glacier.
However what wasn't in the clue was that once there, they'd have to climb the face of the glacier to locate their next clue on the top of it. On their way to the boat landing, Ron and Christina's cab passed TK and Rachel and Nick and Don heading in the other direction.
Nick and Don arrived at the Detour and chose "Grab the Crab" before realizing they forgot their bag of gear back at the outfitters.
"Crap!" Don opined before getting in a cab and heading back.
"You didn't read [the clue]. If you would have read it, it would have said, 'Get your gear,'" said Don to Nick in the cab, blaming their misfortune on him. "So we would have asked for gear. It sounds simple to me."
"Your hindsight is always 20/20..." answered Nick before being cut off.
"No, no! You read the clue, you didn't understand, so we're f**ked," said Don. "That's the way I see it."
Back at the Detour, Nick and Don's loss was TK and Rachel's gain as they found themselves in second place and chose "Grab the Crab." However they began to regret their decision as Nick and Don retrieved their bag of gear and sped back.
"I'm feeling like we might have to switch soon here," Rachel told TK as they each searched separate crap containers.
"You need to make a decision quick," said TK.
"I think we should stop," she replied and they decided to switch Detour tasks.
However just as they were about to switch tasks, TK grabbed a final crab which happened to contain the race color stripes band they needed. TK and Rachel left for the glacier right as Nick and Don arrived and began cutting cod. They appeared to find the clue fairly quickly, and left for the glacier.
"We're in last place right now," said Nick in the cab. "But we gutted the fish pretty fast. TK and Rachel are probably three or four minutes ahead of us."
"We don't like being third out of three," added Don.
TK and Rachel also raced towards the glacier in a cab.
"Chris and Ron, they're just about 20 to 25 minutes in-front of us," said TK. "We need to make up that time."
Ron and Christina arrived at the glacier and road on the high-speed boat out to the glacier (wearing life jackets of course).
"We're pumped!' said Ron.
TK and Rachel weren't as pumped, as their cab driver didn't know exactly where the glacier was.
"It was easier to communicate with taxi drivers..." said TK.
"... in India," finished Rachel.
However they still arrived at the boat landing just ahead of Nick and Don, allowing them to head-out for the glacier in second. Ron and Christina arrived at the glacier in first, and were instructed that they needed to climb its face to retrieve their next clue.
"Both of us have to do that?" asked Ron, revealing a fear of heights.
After a quick crash course, Ron and Christina began scaling the glacier's face, with Ron moving like a madman and reaching the top fairly quickly while Christina struggled to get her initial footing. Christina finally began to ascend the glacier's face just as TK and Rachel arrived.
Once Christina got to the top, she and Ron opened their next clue and learned they needed to take a helicopter ride through the Alaskan wilderness to Merrill Field. After that, they'd have to take a taxi to Goose Lake Park, where their next clue awaited.
"Oh boy a helicopter ride!" said Ron, giddy like a little kid. "Man, what an exhilarating day!"
TK reached the top of the glacier quickly thanks to his long limbs, and Rachel wasn't too far behind. They hopped in the chopper and were off. Don did a good job scaling the glacier considering his age, and Nick was right behind him.
Ron and Christina landed at the clearing, grabbed a tax and left for the park. Once there, they discovered the twelfth season's final Roadblock, which asked, "Who wants to relive your experience on the race?"
In this Roadblock, one member from each team would face a field of objects they previously encountered on the course. Each team would receive 15 recognizable items from different legs of the race, 10 of which met two specific requirements and had to be put on a stage.
First, each of the 10 items had to be from a different leg of the race. Second, three of the 10 items had to be animals or animal byproducts; one had to be a U-Turn sign; two had to be objects either at or brought to a Pit Stop; and two had to be items of transportation with wheels -- one of which was used at a Detour, one of which resembled the shape of a stick.
The trick of it -- according to Phil -- was that while there was several ways to fulfill either of the two requirements, only one correct group of 10 items fulfilled both. Christina decided to undertake the task since she has a better memory than Ron.
"I don't get it," said a confused Christina.
TK and Rachel arrived at the Roadblock, and Rachel decided to try the task. Nick and Don then arrived, and Nick was implored to do it by Don.
"There'd be no sense in me doing it," Nick told Ron on the sidelines.
Christina thought she had it, but her clue box wouldn't open and home viewers were alerted that only one of her 10 answers was incorrect. Rachel thought she was done but had three incorrect. Christina went from one wrong answer to three as she tried to correct her lone mistake while Rachel used calmness as her strategy. It paid-off, as her clue box opened and she excitedly ran back to TK.
TK and Rachel opened their next clue, which told them they needed to travel by taxi to a statue of explorer James Cook. Christina solved the Roadblock riddle second, and asked the cab driver to move quickly since it was "worth $1 million." After initially telling TK and Rachel he knew where to go, their cab driver informed them he needed to turn around.
"This is intense man..." said TK with his head in his hands, felling helpless in the back of the cab.
However they were still the first team to reach the clue box, and opening their next clue, they learned they needed to travel on foot into downtown Anchorage and find the salmon hooker statue, where their next clue awaited. Ron and Christina grabbed the clue next and headed for the statue.
TK and Rachel asked locals along the way and were the first to the clue box, which instructed them to take a taxi to Girdwood Airport and "run to the Finish Line." Ron and Christina also reached the clue box and embarked for the airport.
"I learned a lot on how to be a better person," said Ron, reflecting on his race.
But it would be TK and Rachel who were the first to the Finish Line, where Phil and the previously eliminated teams were waiting.
"My feelings for TK are very real. He's my best friend, he's my rock and he's just my favorite person," said Rachel. "And I got to do this with him!"