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'The Amazing Race' ousts newly-engaged couple Matt Cucolo and Ashley Gordon


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/04/2015 

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. 

"That's the way the cookie crumbles," Matt said. "I'm so proud of her. I love her."

"Our relationship got better. This really brought us together and showed us that we really do work better together. As much as we may fight and argue and people don't see [how great we are] on the outside, we feel that when we're together, we're so strong," Ashley explained.

"It hurts to be going home. We feel that we could've won the million," Matt said.

"This has been the most amazing experience that we've ever had," Ashley noted. "I'm sad to go."

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we're definitely never going to forget this experience," Matt said.

The Amazing Race episode began with blind daters Laura Pierson and Tyler Adams later departed the ninth Pit Stop in first place at 12:40AM.  

Blind daters Hayley Keel and Blair Townsend left in second place 1:07AM followed by blind daters Jenny Wu and Jelani Roy in third at 1:20AM, dating couple Michael Dombrowski and Rochelle Nevedal in fourth place at 1:30AM, and finally Matt and Ashley in fifth at 2:27AM.

The teams' first set of clues instructed them to fly nearly a third of the way around the world to Trujillo, Peru. Once there, they had to travel by taxi to the Plaza de Armas and then join in on the fireworks festivities.

As the teams headed to a travel agency to book their flights, they learned flight reservations had already been made for them. However, the clue apparently said that they could look for a more advantageous flight if they chose to.

Laura and Tyler got to the travel agency first and immediately booked the reserved tickets without thinking. They said their flight would arrive at 8AM the next morning, so Laura planned to have a couple drinks in order to celebrate her 30th birthday with Tyler that night. They were pleased not to worry about booking a flight themselves.

Blair then got to the agency with Hayley and asked if there were any earlier flights available. The travel agent found one that arrived at 10:40PM that night. Hayley said they'd arrive in Peru about 12 hours ahead of Laura and Tyler, which was an incredible head start in this leg.

Right when Jenny and Jelani departed the ninth Pit Stop, they intended to check on other possible flights.

Matt and Ashley, on the other hand, were fine taking the prearranged flight -- just as Mike and Rochelle were. The two teams, along with Laura and Tyler, slept in the airport overnight.

Hayley and Blair and Jelani and Jenny took off on the same early flight. The other teams hopped on the reserved flight. Tyler soon discovered his team had made a mistake when he re-read the clue.

Jelani and Jenny managed to get to the Plaza de Armas before any of the other teams. They were then followed by Hayley and Blair, Mike and Rochelle, Laura and Tyler, and Matt and Ashley.

Beneath a towering statue, the teams found a brass band and the Master of Ceremonies, who presented them with a release time. Jenny and Jelani were given the earliest slot at 7AM and then set off fireworks.

The next morning, the pairs received their next clue, which was a hint. They had to look for "a shine with the morning sun" in the Plazuela de la Merced.

While looking up directions, Jelani and Jenny struggled just as much as Hayley and Blair did. Blair asked locals for directions in Spanish while Hayley yelled at him to do something else. She couldn't stand him at this point in the race -- or at least that's what she said in the heat of the moment.

Meanwhile, Laura and Tyler found llamas and typewriters thinking it was the location of the cluebox. However, Tyler couldn't find the cluebox, so they got in a taxi to head to a different destination. On their way, Laura made a comment about seeing Matt and Ashley's Speed Bump. Tyler realized their clue would've been there, and so they went back for it.

Jelani and Jenny found the shoeshine stand in first place. They were soon followed by Hayley and Blair, Mike and Rochelle, Laura and Tyler, and Matt and Ashley.

The shoeshine worker then handed over their next clue. The teams were instructed to travel by taxi towards Santo Domingo and then Fundo San Fernando, Cuartel Number One, and search for their next clue.

Before Matt and Ashley could continue on, they had to complete their additional Speed Bump task as a consequence for finishing the prior non-elimination leg in last place. For the Speed Bump, the newly-engaged couple had to use old-fashioned typewriters to type out llama applications. They seemed to get it done fairly quickly.

As for the other teams, Jelani and Jenny found their next clue sitting amidst stems of sugarcane. Hayley and Blair got there next, followed by Mike and Rochelle, Laura and Tyler, and finally Matt and Ashley.

It then became time for one member from each team to complete a Roadblock task.

For the Roadblock, the participating Racers had to work with a professional cutter to harvest a section of a sugarcane field, cutting the stems by hand with a machete. Once they finished the hard labor, they'd receive their next clue as well as a bundle of sugarcane.

Jenny performed the Roadblock task, as did Hayley, Tyler, Mike, and Matt.

Jenny and Jelani -- who also earned a Date Night card -- finished the Roadblock task in first place. They were later followed by Hayley and Blair, Mike and Rochelle, Laura and Tyler, and Matt and Ashley.

The teams then made their way to Parque Ramon Castilla, where they had to deliver their sugarcane to receive their next clue and check their FitBits to write down the number of steps they had made in this leg in addition to calories burned.

Jenny and Jelani first arrived at the Parque Ramon Castilla, followed by Hayley and Blair, Laura and Tyler, Mike and Rochelle, and Matt and Ashley.

The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan then explained to the cameras that every Racer this season was wearing a FitBit Charge from the start. A FitBit Charge is a wireless wrist device that collects a range of activity and sleep data.

Teams were required to add the values from their data recorded on this leg to their values for the Race as a whole, and then divide the total steps by the total calories. They were then asked to calculate how many steps were required to work off a 576-calorie glass of sugarcane juice, which was freshly pressed from the sugarcane they had just delivered.

Once their numbers were computed, a fitness instructor would hand them a glass of juice to polish off before receiving their next clue.

Jenny and Jelani completed the task in first place, coming up with the correct answer of 4,608 steps. Hayley and Blair were right on their heels, followed by Laura and Tyler, Mike and Rochelle, and Matt and Ashley.

Once the teams downed their glass of sugarcane juice and ripped open their next clue, it became time to complete one of two possible Detour tasks: "Mamas" or "Papas."

"Mamas" required the teams to gather ingredients for a Peruvian moonshine called chicha. Following a list, they had to walk the streets and collect ingredients for the 70-year-old recipe from five different shops. When their delivery was approved, they'd receive their next clue.

"Papas" required the teams to pick through an enormous pile of potatoes and sort them by type. They then had to transport them by moto-taxi to a marked stand in the Otuzco potato market and place each variety of potato into its correct bin. When the potatoes were correctly sorted, they'd receive their next clue.

Hayley and Blair opted to take on "Mamas" as well as Mike and Rochelle. All the other teams decided to try "Papas." However, Matt and Ashley originally wanted to do "Mamas." The couple's taxi driver appeared to take them to the wrong location.

Hayley and Blair finished the Detour in first place. They were later followed by Jenny and Jelani, Mike and Rochelle, Laura and Tyler, and Matt and Ashley.

The teams then learned they must make their way on foot to La Virgen de la Puerta and find a celebrated statue.

Hayley and Blair arrived at the Pit Stop in first place. For winning the leg, Phil awarded them each with a FitBit Fitness Kit.

Jelani and Jenny stepped on the Pit Stop mat in second place. Mike and Rochelle soon arrived in third place. Behind Mike and Rochelle were Laura and Tyler in fourth place.

Matt and Ashley later arrived at La Virgen de la Puerta in fifth -- and last -- place. Phil quickly announced their elimination and sent them packing.




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