“There Were a Lot of Fabulous Moments” RealityNewsOnline’s Exclusive Interview with The Amazing Race 14's Mark & Michael
by Teeuwynn Woodruff -- 04/21/2009
Brothers Mark & Michael (right) never had any problem with the physical challenges on the race, but sometimes struggled to follow the rules. What do the most-penalized team in Amazing Race history say about their penalties, their experiences on the race, and what they most loved about the whole experience. Read on to find out more.
RealityNewsOnline: Hello Mark & Michael! Thanks for talking to RealityNewsOnline today.
Mark: Good afternoon!
Michael: Thank you.
RNO: What made you decide to apply for the race?
Michael: You know, it was Mark’s idea, actually. He was putting together a couple of teams, and I said, “Heck! I’ve always wanted to do that. I’ll give it a shot.”
Mark: I was actually approached by the casting director – they were looking for two jockeys – and the fact that I’m an active, professional horse jockey… I also suggested my brother because we are both professional stuntmen. Believe it or not, both my teams made it to the final cut. So, that was kind of cool.
RNO: You were applying on two different teams at the same time?
Mark: Yes. [In the semi-finals] there was a very good chance that I was going to make it on The Amazing Race.
RNO: Either with your fellow jockey or with your brother?
RNO: How long have you both been stuntmen?
Michael: I’ve been a stuntman for most of my adult life, but I grew up as a diver – a competitive diver. Then I kind of grew up with the Dog Town skateboard crowd. That was my crowd when I was growing up and surfing professionally.
Mark: I’ve been a professional jockey all over the world for about 24 years. I’m still an active jockey. I’ve been a stuntman for about 12 years. I’ve always been into athletics and extreme sports.
RNO: Physically, you guys seem made for the race. But you seemed to have issues with reading clues and following the rules. Why was that?
Michael: Well, you know Teeuwynn, in the heat of the moment when you’re actually doing it, you’re compelled to do… Especially with our cabs, we felt compelled to do the right thing for those people who were working so hard for us. We didn’t want to try to get something for free.
It was more about being, as we say in Hawaii, pono – doing the right thing.
RNO: Did you know when you hid the air pumps or were trading your belongings for cab fare that it was against the rules?
Michael: Go ahead, Mark.
Mark: I mean when I hid [the air pumps] I thought I was just bending the rules, because it wasn’t like I hid them under a blanket. As far as the cab goes, it was more of a moral issue. These guys had been running us all around China, driving their cabs around and doing their darndest to try to keep us in the game. When you come up short on money you just… I felt I had to give him something.
We didn’t want to leave him hanging. We didn’t want to leave him stuck. I felt really good about giving him stuff out of my pack because it wasn’t just regular stuff, it was some pretty unique items.
RNO: So, you knew that you would get a penalty for that?
Mark: We realized there might be some consequences, yes.
Mike: We had no idea that the penalty would be that severe – maybe an hour between the two [trades]. Actually I thought, “Why would they give two penalties for the same situation?” But, they did it.
RNO: It turned out that you went back for those bags with your items and that ended up costing you quite a bit of time – even before the penalties.
Michael: In actuality, we had to go back. We talked it over. We didn’t know where we were going next. If we ended up in the Arctic Circle with just our shorts that could have been a situation.
Mark: That would have been alright!
Michael: Not only that, it was made clear to us that we did have to take care of our cab. So, we would have left that cab hanging and still been penalized.
RNO: Why did you assume that you would be going back to the docks in that leg?
Mark: There again, the whole race – and it’s happened to every team in the race – you don’t assume anything. You just do it. You just get the clue, do it, and continue on. Sometimes, whether you’re working as a team or not, you just instinctively go do it.
When you jump on that boat… I mean, I did realize – and it was on the show – about our bags. And, yes, I could have lived without my bag and everything else, but ultimately you just do things right – and wrong – on the show and there ends up being consequences.
RNO: Were you thinking of the game when you did hide those air pumps? Were you weighing slowing other teams down with having a possible penalty?
Mark: That was my idea. I was hoping it would slow the teams down if they didn’t realize they had flat tires, but I didn’t think it was going to be consequential like that. I saw it as bending the rules – I don’t know how much of breaking the rules it was, putting the air pumps back in the box where they might belong. It was kind of a 50/50.
Michael: The pumps weren’t hidden! He just put them in the box. They were still in plain sight. They just happened to be in the box instead of spread around on the ground.
RNO: Once you got the four hours of penalties going into this last leg, did you have any thoughts that you might be able to get back into the race?
Michael: Well, with that four-hour penalty, I felt like, “That’s our demise.” There was a glimmer of hope, but there was actually more of a window of opportunity once we got into Guilin and we saw that the other teams had to stay overnight at a park and wait until the park opened in the morning.
We were staying overnight at the airport in Bangkok. There was actually more of an idea that we would have a chance once we got to Guilin.
RNO: How far behind the other teams did you get to the park – due to their delay.
Mark: We couldn’t tell exactly how far behind the other teams we were, but there was a time when the park opened and we realized we could be less than an hour behind when we got there. We weren’t exactly sure. We just rock and rolled through.
It was actually a very good leg for us. There were no errors, and even with the hair washing we had to stop for, we made really good time. We ended up just a little more than a half hour behind Jaime & Cara. So, we made up almost three hours from the beginning of that leg to the end.
RNO: Did you have a favorite moment on the race.
Michael: There were a lot of fabulous moments! The train ride through the Alps… and for me, that bungee jump was just incredible. For me, one of my favorite places was in Guilin in the final leg. It was just a spectacular place. I think it was called the Palace of the Moon. It was this incredible landscape. Gorgeous!
Mark: The train ride through the Swiss Alps was a pretty amazing sight, but running through the snowy streets of Moscow in my underwear – I don’t think I would ever get to do that again without being arrested.
RNO:You’re brothers and have known each other your whole lives, but did you learn anything about each other on the race?
Michael: What I did come away from it with was that I know for sure that Mark is reliable. It confirmed the idea, but we’ve always been pretty close. Not only is he reliable, but capable, and a great brother.
Mark: Yeah, doing the race with Mike was a lot of fun. He’s mellowed out a little bit. He lives in Hawaii. How can you not mellow, living in paradise? But he’s still got that spark. He doesn’t have quite the competitiveness that I do, but I’m still an active, professional jockey. We have to be. It’s just part of our lives. We live it. But it was a great experience to do it with him.
RNO: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your experiences on The Amazing Race.
Michael: I’ve got to tell you, if anybody out there is even entertaining the idea – do it. It’s incredible! It’s one of the most phenomenal things you could possibly do. You get to experience all the people and places and, for me, it’s actually made me realize just how great my life is and appreciate it more.
Mark: We travelled in nine countries and lots of planes and cab rides, and saw some pretty emotional stuff. It’s definitely an eye-opener. It makes you realize that things happen just naturally, and you accept it. Whether you’re in India or Thailand, we talked to people about the tsunami and saw some devastation in India. We saw some really good, happy stuff in other places like Romania.
It’s just a mound of experiences and cultural shock and fun things with local people. If anybody gets the opportunity – you don’t want to turn it down.
RNO: Thank you for talking with us today.
Mark: Thank you.