Count me in on really disliking that Leg 1 twist. It wasn't a big deal since I really didn't adore Eric & Lisa. However, as far as the NEL at the end of that first leg, no thanks! That's probably another reason why I got over the early elimination: at least someone left at that first leg. Of course, it was a "special" 2-hour episode, with Garrett & Jessica leaving. However, as it wasn't like seasons 6-9, it was a 2-in-1 evening. Back to that first leg: you have to have someone leaving. You really want to make the contestants race like they want to be there, race like they want to win $1 Million. Having someone go at the end helps scare the teams into racing the best that they can. Of course you don't want to overdue it (which is why I dislike the RBs showing up in the first leg as of late), but there's the cost factor as well. Ditto for Leg 2. Later on is when the NEL become relevant (as no one is as fit as they were earlier).
Anyway, I'll have to save the rest for a more appropriate thread. As for the following:
A question for TAR 15 racers: Was Leg 7 ever supposed to be a non-elimination leg?
I forgot to ask this. Rather, I didn't get a chance to; while in New York they were doing their own thing. Most of them (including Tiffany) showed up for TARcon, but I was doing my own thing. Given how easy Gary & Matt's speed bump was, I think that may have been a NEL, with two straight boots to follow. However, given how much was left in the race, added to having Phil come out during the detour, I think it was. Not that anyone can easily recover from a 24-hour penalty, but there was a team early in the series that fell a day behind everyone else, so anything is possible.