Exclusive: Mark and Michael Munoz talk about 'The Amazing Race'
By John Bracchitta, 04/20/2009
Mark and Michael Munoz had the odds stacked against them going into the ninth leg of The Amazing Race.
After being spared from elimination by finishing last during The Amazing Race's final non-elimination leg, serving out the last of their penalties accrued from the Race's previous leg and facing an additional Speed Bump task, Mark a 48-year-old stuntman/jockey from Los Angeles, CA, and Michaela 51-year-old stuntman/actor from Maui, HI, were unable to make up enough ground to remain in the competition and became the seventh team to be eliminated from the CBS reality travel competition.
On Monday, Mike and Mark spoke to Reality TV World about what ninth-leg task viewers didn't see on the show, what led to their late arrival in Guilen, China and which of their several time penalties they did not believe was fair.
Reality TV World: How far behind [ Cara Rosenthal and Jaime Edmondson] did you guys actually arrive at the Pit Stop?
Mike: I believe it was about a half-an-hour before our elimination that we arrived after Jaime and Cara at the Pit Stop.
Mark: Yeah it was. Yeah.
Reality TV World: Based on the fact it was already daylight out when your flight arrived in Guilen, it looked like you had to say overnight in Guangzhou and arrived in Guilen quite a bit behind everyone else, is that correct?
Mark: Yeah, well what happened was we missed our earlier flight so we ended up having to spend the night at the airport. So that definitely delayed us, we got in later that morning. The only way we actually picked up time was there was an obstacle... where [the contestants] had to wait for the park to open up. They actually didn't show that on the episode, they cut out a whole sequence of climbing 500 stairs to this temple in China.
Reality TV World: Mark I think it was you who said on the way to the Detour challenge that you both were trying to stay positive. But it is safe to say that you were both pretty certain that you were in last place for the entire leg?
Mark: For the most part yes because we never saw any other team. But even in earlier legs there were moments where you knew you were either close to last or last, but sometimes it was a matter of a taxi ride that could make up only 3-4 minutes where you'd be behind an suddenly you're not in last anymore. So we just kept a really strong, sturdy pace.
Mike: We figured that even though we were dead last that you just never know what's gonna happen ahead of you with the other teams. So we still had to go 100% just in case there was that opportunity, that window to advance.
Reality TV World: Was there ever a chance where you felt you may be getting back into it and had a chance of making it through?
Mike: Actually I felt, yeah, because we [went] through that last leg so seamlessly, and we figured because they'd bunched up the teams so many times before that it may be possible again. So I thought there was that opportunity.
Mark: And the other thing about that last leg and our pace was there had been a few times through the whole game where we got [stuck] with the cab, and this was one time where we got a solid cab driver that knew, and this was halfway through the leg, she knew where we were going every time we gave her a name that was written out in her language, boom she was on it and she would get us there. Yeah, I think it gave us a little optimism.
Reality TV World: I know you guys had gotten penalized with other penalties earlier in the competition, but those last two taxi ride penalties were the ones that really seemed to do you in and it seemed kind of confusing to viewers given we've seen situations in earlier seasons where teams sometimes don't have enough money and seem to just convince the cab driver to settle for whatever money they have. What was your understanding about The Amazing Race rules about how you are allowed to settle a cab fare?
Mark: Further back around the third leg we were kind of misled by something that had happened in the game that gave us the notion that we could trade a few of our personal items. And in the heat of the moment when we're in China it was one of those things where we were struggling to try and keep up and really stay in the game you get into that bubble where you'll do almost anything you can to stay in the game and take a shot. And we thought it was the right thing because these [cab drivers] are working their butts off to get us around, and giving them things that they would probably ordinarily never have made us feel good.
Mike: Right. And we never figured that the penalties would be so severe because we had [received] previous penalties where it was a half-hour here and a half-hour for that so we had no idea that it would be such a severe penalty. And likewise I didn't think that it was too big of a deal. I probably wouldn't have done anything differently because we were, in my heart, doing the right thing in taking care of these people and not trying to get something for free.
Reality TV World: So just to be clear, did you think you were breaking a rule when you were doing that or was it a surprise to you?
Mike: At the moment I didn't know we were doing anything wrong.
Reality TV World: As far as you know, were this seasonâ€™s cab payment rules any different from the showâ€™s previous seasons?
Mark: I believe they were always the same.
Reality TV World: When are things, like the cab payment rules, explained? Do the producers give all the contestants some big master rules list at the beginning of the Race or is that type of stuff included in some fine print on each individual clue?
Mark: When they have the orientation and preparation to go on the race they go over it several times and they give you a copy [of the rules] along with other pertinent items you may need to stick in your backpack or fanny pack and they're always available to you if you have to ask. So it wasn't that they weren't available, it was just our feelings and what we did in that spur of the moment.
Reality TV World: Kinda going off of that, can you explain what happened with the earlier penalty where you got penalized for having a cab lead you to the temple as you followed behind in the rickshaw? We've seen teams do stuff like that when they had to drive themselves someplace before...
Mark: We had an idea of knowing where we were going, the fact that [the taxi] just happened to next to us or in front of us, I think, is a horrible coincidence.
Mike: And the fact is he had our bags in there in his cab and we didn't wanna lose him so we were making sure that he was staying with us. He actually had to get directions to get where we were, so we weren't really, as far as thinking he knows where he's going, we didn't tell him where we were going, so I myself thought that was, uh (Pauses) and unfair penalty as well.
Reality TV World: Just because I'm asking about all of them, you also got penalized for tangling the air pumps for the other teams during that same rickshaw Detour task. Was there something on the clue that specifically warned you against doing that or is there some type of general "no sabotage" rule?
Mark: No, it was one of those things where in there, in the moment we felt like we were in a good position and so I figured "Well, you know what, I'll jut put these things away and make it a little harder on everyone. I didn't think we were breaking [a rule], I thought maybe just bending the rules a little bit, creating an obstacle. So you never know, you take a shot. We weren't breaking the rules of the country, so...
Reality TV World: They only showed it briefly, but could you talk about how difficult that Roadblock task was with the birds was? We saw some teams have some trouble with it while others kind of coasted through.
Mike: Oh the birds thing?! That wasn't really difficult at all, in fact. I had a ball with that. My birds were very cooperative. It was really cold, but other than that I didn't understand how they could have had trouble with that.
Reality TV World: What about the Detour task, did you both complete the dance on the first try?
Mike: Yeah we did, didn't we Mark?
Mark: I believe we did, yes.
Mike: Yeah, we're both trained dancers from when we were kids.
Reality TV World: How long did it take?
Mike: Oh, that took us probably a half-hour?
Mark: Yeah, probably about a half-hour.
Reality TV World: You weren't around for those confrontations between [Luke Adams] and [Jennifer Hoffman], but it seemed like that had begun brewing at least during the previous leg. Had you seen anything between the two teams that suggested they were at such odds with each other?
Mark: I mean there were confrontations with all the teams, even I had one with Tammy Jih way early in the race. Most of them aren't physical, they're more verbal or insinuations. But because we weren't there and I didn't see it until last night... I wasn't surprised. Or rather I should say I wasn't shocked, I was slightly surprised. You're racing for $1 million, you'll do almost anything.
Reality TV World: Based on the footage that aired last night, it looked like Luke was at least as responsible for those incidents as Jen was -- what are your own opinions after seeing them on TV?
Mike: From what I saw it coulda gone either way. They were both pretty aggressive there.
Reality TV World: Whatâ€™s your overall general opinion of Margie and Luke? Did you approve of their "no holds barred" style of playing the game or did you take exception to anything they did?
Mike: Well I gotta tell you, up until that point I admired them as competitors. After that I was kinda like "Whoa."
Mark: I think that's part of the game though. The big race thing is it really pulls the best and the worse of you out of you, so that's not unexpected.
Reality TV World: What about Jaime and Cara, they seemed to rile up a few people as well. Did you get along with them?
Mark: Oh in the big picture? Yeah we got along with them. [But] they don't play well with people
Reality TV World: Going back to last weekâ€™s episode, did you guys really not realize those "girls" weren't really girls during that karaoke cab ride?
Mike: Oh absolutely, I mean it was real obvious up front. I mean, for one, they were like six-feet-plus and it was real obvious they were men. No women have hands like that. But at that point Mark and I knew we had to be very entertaining so it was like "Okay, lets go have fun with this." And so that's what we did
Reality TV World: Did you guys begin rooting for any particular team to win once you got eliminated?
Mike: I actually started rooting for... I mean, I stayed with my original pick with Luke and [Margie Adams].
Mark: Same here. They have a great passion for the game and a great and competitive nature and I like the way they worked well with each other. http://www.realitytvworld.com/news/exclusive-mark-and-michael-munoz-talk-about-the-amazing-race-8834.php