Husband-and-wife Rachel and Dave Brown didn’t just win the 20th installment of “The Amazing Race.” They dominated from wire-to-wire.
Rachel & Dave won the season’s first two Legs and its last four Legs and posted two additional Leg victories in the middle (along with two second places) for a record-breaking total of eight.
They were so good at winning that they actually got to run through the final gauntlet to host Phil Keoghan twice. The first time, they accidentally skipping a climactic Roadblock, earning awkward stares from their fellow competitors and Phil alike. Only briefly deterred, Dave & Rachel went back to the Roadblock, whizzed past a frustrated Art & JJ and returned to the deserving adulation of all and sundry at the mat.
When they weren’t toppling the competition, Dave & Rachel were bickering their way around the world, getting into heated shouting matches on several continents.
In their exit interview, Rachel & Dave stake their claim as the best team in “Amazing Race” history, offer their take on the high-volume bickering and clarify whether or not they let Mark & Bopper win the 8th Leg.
HitFix: Have you guys been fans for the show for long?
Rachel Brown: Oh yeah. Huge fans. We’ve watched for years, ever since we first started dating.
HitFix: OK, then. You won eight Legs. You won the Race. Put yourselves in the context of the best teams in “Amazing Race” history?
Dave Brown: Honestly it’s very humbling to have the most Leg victories and in some respects, just setting that precedent alone in what I consider to be the most competitive reality show, I think Rachel and I have clearly distinguished ourselves as the best team in the history of the Race.
Rachel: It’s crazy, because we watched the Snowboarders last season and we thought, “Oh my gosh! They won all the time. It’s crazy! How can they win all the time?” So to know that we’re in that realm of victories is awesome.
HitFix: Who do you guys think of, then, as your competition in terms of the best teams in Race history?
Dave: I would said probably if any other couple… Again, mixed gender couple, I think is absolutely imperative. I think it’s absolutely necessary to have a male and female on the team, because it definitely brings and dynamic and some drama — especially in a marital partnership — I think Meghan & Cheyne would probably be the greatest competition for Rachel and I.
Rachel: Yeah, I completely agree. In fact, they were text messaging some of the people we were out with last night and they were really worried that we were going to take their title away.
HitFix: Talk me through the experience of reaching the final mat and being told to turn around…
Rachel: Heartbreak. It was so heartbreaking. We could not believe it. You’re so excited and you see all the teams finally and you think it’s the end and then to be told that it wasn’t? We had no clue what we screwed up on, because we thought we ran it perfectly.
Dave: In all honesty, the final Leg, with the exception of the first mat arrival, was run flawlessly by Rachel and I. That’s what was so demoralizing once we hit the mat and Phil said, “You are the first to arrive, however…” And you can see the expression on my face. It was just completely… It was gut-wrenching. And we didn’t have the slightest idea what we had done wrong. So at that point, we were just completely baffled and thankfully we took a few moments and just backtracked and stumbled across another route marker and that was within a quarter mile or a half mile. And we ran and Rachel killed the next two challenges and we were able to make it back in time to still remain number one.
HitFix: What were you getting from the faces of your fellow competitors in that moment? How were people looking at you as Phil delivered the news?
Rachel: Well, they all kinda looked at us in shock and amazement and they said they felt so bad for us. They didn’t even know what to say.
Dave: I think at one point I distinctly recall, and I don’t necessarily know if this aired last night, but as we’re running out — and I don’t even think “running” at this point, it was the first time in the Race when Rachel and I, other than Paraguay possibly, that we were completely dejected — so as we’re walking out and trying to figure out how exactly and what exactly we’d done wrong, I believe Bopper yelled out — Bopper and I have very much a kinship, he’s a great friend of mine — I think Bopper specifically said, “Man, get going! You can still win this damn thing.” That was fairly motivating in and of itself.
HitFix: You guys mentioned that you were dejected in that moment, but I was struck by the fact that there was arguing and no fighting as you left. It was just very determined. Are you guys surprised by how cool you kept things at that point?
Dave: You know, in all honesty, every argument and every bickering session that Rachel and I experienced over the course of the Race aired. So what you saw is what you got with regard to Rachel and I. I think we truly were the most competitive team in the history of the Race and especially once the Race concludes and they begin to work and develop episodes, you can’t necessarily have a team win eight of 12 Legs and try and represent them as being the best, most cohesive unit, if you know what I mean?
Rachel: I think when push comes to shove, too, we know that there’s an end goal and we go for it. So no matter what it takes and in this case, it took just working together and doing it and doing it as fast and as hard as we could.
HitFix: But leaving aside if the fights we saw were the only fights that we had on the entire Race, what did you guys think when you went back and watched and relived those fights?
Rachel: [Laughing.] I was so embarrassed, because I didn’t realize that we did fight as much as we did, so I was very embarrassed and surprised by the edit that we had, but it was a growing experience.
Dave: Yeah, it was definitely odd. I think most married couples would again perceive it as usual bickering and granted viewers and media types be cognizant of the fact that we truly have, we spent 18 of the last 24 months apart prior to the Race and Rachel travels every other week for her profession. Above and beyond being a quote-unquote “army wife,” she’s also a project manager for a healthcare software company, so that being said, we spent the vast majority of the last two and half years apart from one another and we’re thrown into a competition vying for a million dollars and I’m self-professed, I’m aggressive, competitive and intense and those are all characteristics that Rachel loves, because I challenge her. And what we perceive as challenging and pushing one another and motivating, it may look like bickering and arguing, but that’s what motivates us. But it’s perceived by viewers as very defeating and very aggressive and some going to the extent of referring to me as a wife-beater, which absolutely asinine.
Rachel: It’s so funny because our friends and family know who we are and they all say, “Well, you know, this is actually probably a good thing, because it makes people realize that you’re a real couple. All real couples have arguments and you just look like a normal couple to most people.
HitFix: How was your communication before you had this long time apart? How would you have raced if you’d done this show two years ago?
Rachel: It was so much better, because we were a cohesive unit. We were together all the time and we were on the same wavelength. We lived a life together. but then Dave was gone and deployed, we lived two complete separate lives, so I had to be independent and do things on my own and he had to be independent and then for us to learn to be depending on each other again? It takes a lot out.
Dave: Honestly, moreso than just communication itself, there was a mutual admiration and respect for one another at that point. The military’s a new experience for Rachel and in some respects, she resented the fact that the military took me away from her for a year. Contrary to popular belief and what you might have seen, she’s almost a bigger control freak than I am.
Rachel: Uh… I don’t know about that.
Dave: And that was one aspect of her life that she was unable to control and that was extremely difficult for her to manage. So that reliance on on one another after basically that independence that we had experienced throughout that two-years-plus that we were apart from each other, it really showed on the Race itself.
HitFix: So Dave, you never watched any of those fights or bickering sessions and felt like you went too far? You never watched and wished there was anything you could change?
Dave: Uh… No. I mean, it was true to life. There are somethings that, again, due to time constraints and the edit, and again they’ll take three primary characteristics that I’m self-professed — competitive, aggressive and intense — and they’ll have to magnify that because of the time constraints. I mean, a lot of things could have been taken out of context because of other aspects of the show not being aired, but it is what is. I never swore at Rachel. I never called her any names. I never told her to “Shut the f— up.” [Rachel starts laughing in the background.] There is a double-standard in the world that maybe if a woman makes a demeaning comments then it’s not going to reflect the same as if a man does. If Rachel tells me “Shut the f— up” and people think it’s hilarious and I tell her to “Shush” and I’m the worst husband in the world.
Rachel: [Laughing.] All in all, we have arguments, but the great thing about us is that we just brush everything off. Hell, we brush it off and then we don’t even care about it two minutes after it happens.
HitFix: Rachel, how much do you enjoy pushing your husband’s buttons in circumstances like that?
Rachel: Oh yeah. We both push each other’s buttons. We know each other’s hot buttons and, yeah, we definitely both push them. I did a lot of that, too. I think I take a little more of a subtle approach approach, in the sense that I’m a little more sarcastic and like, “Oh, really?” It’s a different approach and Dave’s more aggressive and in-your-face. And the fact that he’s more aggressive and in-your-face is probably the reason he looks more like the fighter out of the two of us.
HitFix: A lot of the Racers I’ve talked to today have been particularly impressed by Rachel and her performance out there. Dave, were you particularly impressed by Rachel?
Dave: I was not particularly impressed by Rachel, because I expected it from her. I knew! Rachel, she’s the type of person who has strived for success and attained everything that she’s set her mind to to day. If you noticed, how many males, specifically Alpha Males who have been in the military for 16 years, would have the reliance upon their partner to say, “Alright babe. You can do this Roadblock,” versus always attempting to assume the dominant role. I had not the slightest apprehension for Rachel to complete any Roadblock, because I had the upmost faith that she would do it to the best of her abilities. Rachel, she’s phenomenal. She competed absolutely amazing and she continues to impress me.
Rachel: Awww. Dave did an awesome job, too. The fact that he is so aggressive and pushed me to my limits, that helped too. So I definitely think that we wouldn’t have been as successful as we were if we didn’t have each other.
HitFix: When you go back and think over this season… Eight wins, that’s obviously impressive. Winning the season? Impressive. But do those four Legs that you *didn’t* win eat at you at all?
Dave: Yeah, definitely. I’m by no means a sore loser. I believe Rachel referred to me as a sore loser and I’m not. But with regard to Mark and Bopper winning? I was very happy that Mark and Bopper won, but I could see that we had an opportunity to win that Leg and I think that there were a few other Legs where — in hindsight, arm-chair quarterbacking — that we could have potentially won as well. But again… We raced and we learned valuable lessons from Paraguay and I think we carried those lessons forward for the remainder of the Race and part of the reason why we were as successful as we were towards the latter Legs of the Race was our issues in Paraguay.
HitFix: There was some speculation from fans that you guys let Mark & Bopper win that Leg, just as a nice thing to do. Do you guys want to make it clear that you didn’t do that?
Rachel: I will make that clear, because Dave was pushing the heck out of me. And that’s why I said he was a poor loser, because he was being really aggressive and saying “You’re not running fast enough! Run faster! Run faster!” So he wanted me to run and push my limits, for sure. But I could see that Mark and Bopper were a good way ahead of us. There’s no way we were catching up. There’s no way! Dave will argue that we could, but there’s no way.