All “Amazing Race” season long, other teams targeted Hockey Brothers Bates & Anthony as being the strongest pair.
That ended up being appropriate caution, since Bates & Anthony won the million dollar prize on Sunday’s (May 5) finale.
However, when the episode began and Bates and Anthony were assessing their Top 4 competition, the team that they said worried them most was the under-the-radar union of Roller Derby Moms Beth Bandimere and Mona Egender.
It wasn’t that Beth and Mona were especially dominating. They didn’t win a single Leg, but they battled back from a fair amount of adversity, overcoming a Speed Bump and a U-Turn in the season’s penultimate episode. Of course, that adversity was often self-inflicted, like a misdirection in Washington that contributed to their third place finish.
In their exit interview, Mona and Beth talk about bringing trouble upon themselves, their relationship with the teams outside of their alliance and roller derby alter egos.
Click through for the full conversation.
HitFix: As the episode began last night, we saw Bates & Anthony describe the two of you as the biggest threats in the Top 4. Did you know other teams were looking at you that way?
Beth Bandimere: We started to suspect maybe that teams were [looking at us that way] near the middle of the Race. I think Bates and Anthony maybe figured it out a little bit sooner than the other teams because they know we play derby, which is kinda similar to hockey. So they knew that we were physically probably one of the tougher teams.
HitFix: And were you guys looking at yourselves in that same way?
Mona Egender: You know, we did think that we were a physical threat. If you threw whiskey barrels or whatever you wanted to throw at us physically, we could barrel right through that. If we had to find something or think about it, we tended to stumble a little bit.
Beth: Give us a map and we had some problems.
Mona: We knew we were strong physically. That was not our weakness.
HitFix: Going off that, why do you guys think you never won a Leg out there?
Beth: Mona and I definitely struggled with finding things, with directions. One of our other biggest problems was airports and planes. We had never traveled outside the US before, so just navigating international flights and currency exchanges, that was all completely new to us. I don’t know. I think some of it was luck, too. We just never never got on any of the best flights ever.
HitFix: You mentioned that Bates and Anthony knew you play dirty. When you were watching the season, did you really see that “roller derby” side of you come out?
Beth: In fact, I don’t think we ever played dirty. We tried very hard to run it with integrity, because our kids are watching. That being said, I think maybe some of the teams thought we were very sweet and nice because they saw more of the “mom” side of us and then, of course, when it came down to the challenge in Scotland between us and Joey and Meghan, the “roller derby” side did come out. We are competitive women. That’s what we do for fun. We play this really physical, difficult, competitive sport and I think at that point, people start to realize, “Maybe they aren’t, not necessarily as ‘nice’ as we thought, but they’re just a lot tougher” than maybe they thought at the beginning.
HitFix: You were part of an alliance that formed fairly early on and that targeted Bates & Anthony as the most dangerous team. Why do you think the other teams didn’t see what a threat the brothers were or didn’t do anything to target them?
Mona: I think that for Jen and Caroline, being aligned with Bates and Anthony was a really smart move. They both helped each other out. The girls helped the boys and the boys helped the girls and, in the beginning and in the middle, it might be smart to be with a strong team, because they can kind of help carry you. We, for the life of us, couldn’t understand near the end why they wouldn’t want to U-Turn Bates and Anthony, because at that point, it was pretty obvious that they were physically the strongest out there and that if it came down to a foot-race to the finish, they were probably going to beat you.
HitFix: When I talked to Joey & Meghan last week, they said that because of their alliance, they felt real hostility out there from the other teams. Did you guys feel that?
Beth: No. I’ve thought about that a little bit and what I think it was is Mona and I are used to competition at the highest level. That’s what we do for fun. We’re used to that feeling. We’re used to other people gunning for us. We’re used to there only being one winner and Joey and Meghan, I don’t think they’ve ever really been exposed to that level of competition before and then to get it for the first time on “The Amazing Race,” I think was just a little bit of a shocker. We’re also older and it’s a little bit easier when you get a little bit older to kinda let some of that stuff just roll off your back. When you’re younger, it hurts your feelings if people don’t like you or your perceive that everyone’s against you.
HitFix: So you guys didn’t feel the “hate” that they told me they felt from other teams?
Mona: No, we knew everybody was aligned against us in the game, but that was only competition-wise. We got along with everyone. When you’re at Pit Stops and we had downtime to talk, we were friendly with everyone and felt like we were included just fine. It was just the competition aspect that we knew there was an alliance against us. It wasn’t anything that felt personal.
HitFix: Which finale segment was harder to watch last night: The long struggle with the start of the Titanic dry-dock or the Pennsylvania Avenue mistake in Washington?
Beth: I think the Titanic was probably a little bit more difficult to watch just because it was right there staring us in the face what we were missing with that menu and physically, it was just absolutely an exhausting task. I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired in my life. The Pennsylvania Avenue one was an easier mistake to make. I take responsibility for that. I confused our cab driver. I said the address to him, but then I said “White House.” But that was just us knowing the White House was on Pennsylvania Avenue, we just had the blocks screwed up.
Mona: I would agree. Absolutely the Titanic was harder to watch. The mistake in Washington, D.C., while it was a mistake, it didn’t really cost us a lot of time. It was five or 10 minutes. We were only four blocks away. It was really difficult to watch Titanic and know that it was such an obvious thing that I had missed by not seeing that menu. I mean, once I saw that menu, I don’t think we made a mistake in getting the courses down there. It was just that we overlooked that big obvious, tell-tale sign and that’s really difficult to watch. We just had such tunnel vision in the moment.
Beth: You want to reach through the TV and smack yourself.
HitFix: Are those just the kind of mistake that invariable set in after a month of travel and intense competition? Was there any way you could have anticipated the exhaustion level at the end of this?
Beth: No. You watch other reality shows, like “Survivor” is a perfect example, that’s obviously physically taxing. We knew the Race was going to be hard, but we vastly underestimated just… The lack of sleep. You’re running on fumes. You don’t eat. You don’t drink water. You go days without sleeping in a bed.
Mona: Massive jetlag.
Beth: Yeah. Massive jetlag. The jetlag for us took weeks to undo after we got back from filming the show. I don’t know that I can really put into words how tiring it really was.
HitFix: On Sunday’s episode, you guys talked about having stuff to prove as women, as mothers and as roller derby contestants. What do you think you proved?
Mona: I really think that we proved that we can hang in there, that we’re tough and we’re not gonna give up and we’re gonna push through regardless of whether the outcome is in our favor or not. Beth and I both had our kids young. We went pretty much straight from being kids in our parents’ houses to having kids of our own, so we hadn’t really been out there on our own, as women, trying to to figure out the world. So I think we proved to ourselves that we’re a lot stronger than we thought. We were physically tough and we proved that we can hang in there and overcome any obstacles — Speed Bumps, U-Turns, whatever you want to throw at us.
HitFix: I assume, of course, that your kids were very proud and all that, but were there any reactions from them that surprised you?
Beth: It’s funny. I have a 16-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old and the little ones, they were so excited and they loved it. My 16-year-old last night, after the show ended, texted me and it was a simple little thing, but it was “Wow, Mom. I’m so proud of you.” Just to hear him say that, that was pretty cool.
Mona: My seven-year-old daughter called me crying last night because she was convinced that we’d won the million dollars and we would be able to buy her a horse. So I’m sorry, Kenley. I can’t buy you a horse.
HitFix: So did you guys go straight back to the roller derby after you finished?
Beth: Yeah, we did. We wrapped filming in December and then in January, she and I started training again. Our season picked up in February and, actually, Mona and I are leaving this Friday for Austin, Texas to go play in a bout with our team. So we’re in the middle of a season right now and it’s a lot of work.
HitFix: I’m sorta shocked this never came up, but each of you: What are your roller derby names and what are your personas, I guess?
Beth: That’s funny. My derby name is Fiona Grapple and I guess my persona would be that I’m kinda a bulldozer.
Mona: And my roller derby name is Triple Shot Misto and I’m just know for being pretty speedy and agile.
HitFix: That seems like the sort of thing I would have expected to come up during the season, but it seemed like the editors just didn’t want to go that way.
Beth: It was funny. We actually said on the show a couple of times that we sort of thought that our roller derby background would come out more. We really were more about being tough women, not necessarily roller derby skaters.
HitFix: And a standard last question: For each of you, tell me something you learned about the other through this experience…
Mona: That’s an interesting question. Something that’s appropriate to put into print?
Beth: I learned that Mona really hates cold water. Mona’s probably one of the toughest women I’ve ever met. The girl’s a machine. She does not stop. She’s tough as hell. I guess I knew that already, but it takes being on the “Amazing Race” just to see how strong somebody really is.
Mona: I learned about Beth that she has an amazing personality and she is so great with humor and she can take the worst thing and turn it around into the best thing and that was so great for when we were in such dire situations and we felt like we were down-and-out and she always had the right thing to say and knew how to approach things. She’s really great with people, she’s got incredible people skills and that was important on the show.