Unfinished business meets unstoppable team
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
After traveling 32,000 miles over 4 continents, 10 countries and 30 cities, most people would be perfectly happy to stay home, but when Gary and Mallory Ervin returned from The Amazing Race, they had unfinished business.
The whole world watched them fight flat tires, castle walls, cow manure, broken taxis, and television antennae, wondering when their energy and positivity would run out. Every Monday morning, talk turned to how Team Yellow performed on Sunday night’s show – at least in Union County, it did.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience, who’d have thought we’d ever get a second chance,” Mallory said in their first press interview with the Advocate. Before the rest of us even started watching their adventures on television, Gary and Mallory had been called back to compete in Season 18 of The Amazing Race.
Starting on Feb. 20, “Unfinished Business” airs on CBS channel 44. This season opens at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near Palm Springs, California. The first task is to sift through hundreds of paper airplanes to find the one labeled “Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services,” the full name of Qantas Airways, and win two tickets to Sydney, Australia. After Sydney their travels will include the Australian Outback, Japan and Liechtenstein. “It’s really much harder than it looks on TV, and this season they intentionally made it crazy hard,” warned Mallory
. If their first season on The Amazing Race was heart-stopping and nail-biting, be prepared for an even bigger adrenaline rush this time.
Mallory and Gary are joined this season by ten other teams of past competitors, five teams from Season 14 alone. Audience favorites Jet and Cord, also known as “The Cowboys” are back, as are Flight Time and Big Easy from the Harlem Globetrotters. “This season is another good cast, but there are definitely some game players. Some teams were brought back because they bring drama with them,” warned Mallory.
“One of our biggest weaknesses as a team is that we refuse to play dirty – we’re too nice,” Gary said. Mallory added, “ Being a nice person really does get you far, too.”
What else will be returning for Season 18? Gary’s Union County wrestling t-shirt, yellow bandanas, and Mallory’s prayer bracelet. Plus look out for their pins that support Autism Awareness, Kentucky Proud, and Friends of Coal.
Having just finished a season of Amazing Race, they feel they have an advantage, both mentally and physically, over the other teams. They can remember how to pack and how to survive the grueling challenges. While a lot of Season 18 competitors carried ten or more pounds of food in their backpacks, Gary and Mallory did not, knowing that they will be able to fill up with food on flights or forage at hotel buffets.
Both consider their father-daughter relationship to be their greatest strength, even though they might argue, it all comes down to being family. “I mean, he’s my Dad. I’m not going to break up with him,” Mallory said, smiling.
Another advantage they have is fearlessness. Neither has any debilitating phobias that have plagued other competitors, like fear of heights, claustrophobia, or arachnophobia. The only thing they are afraid of is being eliminated from the Race.
They are equally matched physically and mentally, so they share the responsibilities of both categories of challenges. “But Mallory still has more energy than me,” Gary admitted.
During the two seasons they have completed, Gary and Mallory developed great respect for their camera crews. Over 2,000 people work on the amazing race, with each team of two traveling with a camera operator, sound operator and safety expert. Gary explained, “They do the whole race with us, and they’re running backwards and hanging out the car window to get the best camera angle.”
There are also teams working on each challenge, and the producers would hire local people whenever they could. Season 18 has more medical treatments than Season 17, with the medical crew taking competitors to hospitals for stitches and hypothermia. Mallory assured that safety is a very high priority, because “it wouldn’t look too good” for anyone to be seriously injured.
Because they left to start Season 18 the day after the episode when they were eliminated from Season 17 was aired, Gary and Mallory missed the outpouring of sympathy from Union County. “It’s like they’re running the Race with us, and I think that’s the most special thing about our small community,” she said.
When they returned just before Christmas, Gary was ready to stay home for a while, adding, “I didn’t even want to cross the bridge to go Christmas shopping in Evansville.”
Once again, Mallory and Gary will be signing yellow bandanas to raise money for charity. They are available from Bud’s County Corner and Creative Touch in Morganfield. Mallory has also made some prayer bead bracelets similar to the bracelet she took with her on Season 17, which are available at Horsefeathers in Morganfield.
Proceeds from bandana and bracelet sales will go to Downtown Morganfield, Inc, and to make care packages for Union County soldiers overseas.
Already community support for the Ervins has appeared on Facebook. Analois Ebelhar from Sturgis wrote, “I never watched until last year, but I would yell and holler like it was a ballgame on Sunday night.”
“I was also impressed by the way Mallory always showed respect for her father in the hard times of the game. They were a team, not two separate people with two separate agendas,” added Judy Owen of Clay.
Uniontown resident Dava Steward praised Team Yellow because “they are courteous, they aren’t whiners, they aren’t about the drama, they pray when times are hard, and they just keep plugging along – and they’re just genuinely good to the core.”
In closing, Mallory said, “Since I was a little girl, everyone has always supported me. When I won Miss. Kentucky everyone was cheering me on. Now, people are so into the Amazing Race with us. I am very proud to represent this community and I want to tell every, single person thank you.” http://www.ucadvocate.com/articles/stories/public/201102/16/04Wz_local_news.html