'The Amazing Race' ousts dating couple Jeff Magee and Lyda Grawn in debut episode
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/26/2015
The Amazing Race's 26th season eliminated Jeff Magee and Lyda Grawn during Wednesday night's premiere episode, which introduced the brand new "dating couples" theme, on CBS.
Jeff, a 57-year-old airline pilot from McCall, ID, and his girlfriend Lyda, a 49-year-old flight attendant from Scottsdale, AZ, were ousted from the race around the world after they arrived at the first Pit Stop in last place. The couple started dating four years ago although they've known each other for 20 years.
"Our relationship is as strong as ever, so we are very happy and we love each other," Jeff said following his team's ouster.
The debut episode began with five single men lining up at the starting line next to six couples who have pre-existing relationships. The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan had five single women join the men. He then explained how five couples would be going on the most extreme blind date ever while competing against the six couples who already know their partners.
Laura Pierson, a 29-year-old talent booker from Los Angeles, CA, and her blind date Tyler Adams, a 26-year-old mobile app developer from Santa Monica, CA, felt an initial spark as well as Jenny Wu, a 32-year-old blogger and lawyer from Los Angeles, CA, and her blind date Jelani Roy, a 32-year-old lawyer from New York, NY.
Bergen Olson, a 23-year-old human resources project manager from Sunnyvale, CA, met his partner Kurt Jordan Belcher, a 24-year-old pageant consultant from Butler, KY, for the first time and the guys agreed they both had the best hair. Jackie Ibarra, a 27-year-old professional dancer from Las Vegas, NV, really liked the buff body her partner Jeffrey Weldon, a 26-year-old account executive and salesman from Tampa, FL, had to offer.
In addition, Hayley Keel, a 28-year-old registered nurse from St. Petersburg, FL, said her partner Blair Townsend, a 31-year-old Navy physician from Jacksonville, FL, seemed to have everything she was looking for in a guy.
The pre-existing dating couples felt they'd have a huge advantage in the Race because they knew each other's strengths and weaknesses already.
Phil then announced the couples had to race for tickets to Tokyo, Japan by running along the lake's shore and getting through a difficult mud-run. Only eight pairs of tickets awaited the teams for the earliest flight.
Phil also revealed the winner of the leg would receive an Express Pass.
After completing the grueling obstacle course, the following teams got tickets on the first flight in this exact order: Matt Cucolo and his girlfriend Ashley Gordon, Jeffrey and Jackie, Laura and Tyler, Aly Dudek and her boyfriend Steven Langton, Harley Rodriguez and his partner Jonathan Knight, Jeff and Lyda, Bergen and Kurt, and finally Jelani and Jenny.
The rest of the teams got on the second flight and everyone showered quickly before leaving.
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The couples then got in a vehicle and drove to the airport, which was a great opportunity for the blind-dating couples to start getting to know one another. Upon landing in Tokyo, they'd have to make their way to the Kanda Myojin shrine. They also learned a "Blind Double U-Turn" awaited them in this leg.
Once in Tokyo, Jeff and Lyda, Rochelle Nevedal and her boyfriend Michael Dombrowski, and Bergen and Kurt took an Express train to their next destination. Hayley and Blair missed the first train they wanted to take, and everyone else appeared to hop in cabs. Hayley and Blair were having a tough time thus far, so Hayley called it "the worst first date ever."
Blair suggested he and Hayley go a certain direction after getting off the train. Hayley disagreed with the move but he asked her to trust him, and he ended up being wrong -- swallowing his pride.
Jelani and Jenny were the first team to arrive at the shrine. They were then followed by Jeffrey and Jackie, Matt and Ashley, Laura and Tyler, Aly and Steve, Harley and Jonathan, Jeff and Lyda, Bergen and Kurt, Mike and Rochelle, C.J. Harris and his girlfriend Lebya Simpson, and finally Hayley and Blair.
The teams then learned they must complete one of two possible Detour tasks: "Syncing Steps" or "Samurai Sake."
"Syncing Steps" required the couples to join a Japanese pop-techno group called World Order and master robotic slow-motion choreography in order to earn their next clue.
"Samurai Sake" required the teams to memorize the names of 10 sakes, take a drink order from a table of samurai and then relay that order to his or her partner at the bar. If they got the order correct and the samurai accepted the bottle of sake, they'd participate in a toast and then receive their next clue.
On the way to their choice of Detour, Lebya and C.J. got lost. Navigation became more of a problem for them as the leg progressed.
The following couples opted to take on the dancing task: Jelani and Jenny, Matt and Ashley, Laura and Tyler, Aly and Steve, Jeff and Lyda, Bergen and Kurt, Mike and Rochelle, Hayley and Blair, and Lebya and C.J.
Jeffrey and Jackie as well as Harley and Jonathan took on the sake and samurai task.
"Syncing Steps" proved to be the more difficult task of the two. In fact, some teams started thinking it was nearly impossible to complete. The couples who struggled the most were Matt and Ashley, Mike and Rochelle, and Jeff and Lyda. Both Lyda and Rochelle ended up breaking down into tears because it was so hard and frustrating. However, no one wanted to give up.
Jeffrey and Jackie were the first team to finish the Detour task. They were then followed by Harley and Jonathan, Laura and Tyler, Jelani and Jenny -- after eight attempts -- Aly and Steve, Bergen and Kurt, Hayley and Blair, Matt and Ashley -- after a whopping 25 attempts -- Libby and C.J. on their eighth attempt, Mike and Rochelle on their fourteenth attempt, and finally Jeff and Lyda on their 23rd try.
The teams' next set of clues instructed them to make their way to Wakaba Higashi Park, where the Blind Double U-Turn awaited them.
Harley and Jonathan got lost trying to find this location, as did Lebya and C.J. Lebya even admitted she had underestimated the Race.
Jeffrey and Jackie got to the U-Turn board first and they opted out of using the advantage. Jelani and Jenny got their next and also declined to use it. Laura and Tyler got to the board in third place and they chose not to U-Turn anyone. Harley and Jonathan did the same, followed by Aly and Steve and then Bergen and Kurt.
Once Mike and Rochelle arrived at the park, they felt the need to U-Turn a couple because they were definitely behind the pack -- if not in last place. The only team Mike and Rochelle were certain about being behind them were Jeff and Lyda, so the couple decided to U-Turn them. Hayley and Blair opted out of U-Turning anyone next, followed by Matt and Ashley making the same decision.
Jeff and Lyda soon discovered they had been U-Turned. They seemed to take the news well, and then they went off to complete the sake samurai task. They got through it in no time at all and wished they had tried that one first -- or switched before it was too late.
Jeff and Lyda chose to U-Turn Jeffrey and Jackie, thinking the couple was behind them, but they were wrong. Once Lebya and C.J. got to the U-Turn board, they just kept racing ahead.
The leg's final clue required the teams to find a parking space, which would serve as the Race's first Pit Stop. They had to search for Phil "in the vicinity of the UDX Building in Akihabara."
Jelani and Jenny met Phil on the Pit Stop mat in first place. For winning the leg, they received the coveted Express Pass.
Jeffrey and Jackie got to the Pit Stop in second place, followed by Laura and Tyler in third and then Aly and Steve in fourth. Harley and Jonathan claimed fifth place and then Bergen and Kurt finished in sixth. Mike and Rochelle got to the mat in seventh place, and then Hayley and Blair claimed eighth.
Matt and Ashley met Phil in ninth place, and then Jeff and Jackie finished the first leg in tenth place. It appeared to come down to a foot race between Lebya and C.J. as well as Jeff and Lyda, as both couples were trying to find the correct parking spot. Lebya and C.J. got there in tenth place.
As a result, Jeff and Lyda finished the first leg in eleventh -- and last -- place. Phil announced they had been eliminated.
Ironically, three blind-date couples finished the leg in the Top 3 spots.