Exclusive: 'The Amazing Race' eliminees Keith Tollefson and Whitney Duncan talk (Part 2)
Reality TV World: Which option do you think would've been a better way to utilize the U-Turn -- to flush Misti Raman and Jim Raman's "The Save" advantage out or to try and eliminate another team entirely? I'm assuming you thought it was targeting Misti and Jim?
Whitney Duncan: Absolutely. We could've totally done damage control with Misti and Jim. Misti's really sweet. We could've said, you know, "It was nothing more than a strategic move to get 'The Save' out of the game." We did respect their game. They wouldn't have went out. They still would've been in the game. So, I think it was definitely the smarter decision.
Keith Tollefson: They understood the game enough that I know he probably would have told me, "Hey, I would've done the same thing. I absolutely would've U-Turned you to get 'The Save' out of play, and I know that you would've stayed in the Race, so it's not a big deal and we can race again."
He pretty much said it throughout the Race, "We want to play the most strategic game that The Amazing Race has ever seen."
Reality TV World: You two definitely had an interesting dynamic while racing. It seemed like you bickered a lot, but when you did, you guys thought you were getting along beautifully. Could you talk about that a little bit? Why does that method work for you guys? And when I spoke with firefighters Michael Ward and Scott Strazzullo a few weeks ago, they told me they thought some teams argued so much they'd eventually self-destruct. I don't know if they were referring to you?
Whitney Duncan: That actually wasn't us, no. Actually, [Brooke Adams and Robbie E. Strauss] were like crazy bickering, [Tim Tsao and Te Jay McGrath]. But you know what? Everyone has a different dynamic.
Some work well with that and some don't. We began in a really stressful environment, like, we saw the worst of each other from the get-go because we started on Survivor. We had to discuss who to vote out and all these things.
Keith Tollefson: The situation with the Race is that we're both very competitive people and the nice in us kind of blows out of the window in that moment, where I need reassurance constantly from Whitney that I'm either going the right way, we made the right decision.
And so, instead of asking politely, which I could, I'm a little more intense in just saying, "What are we doing?! Where are we going? I need a 'yes' or a 'no.'" And she's also very intense as well. So what comes off as potentially bickering, is more of us really playing the game just very intensely and it's simplified.
Whitney Duncan: Yeah, we're comfortable enough in our relationship. I don't get my feelings hurt in the game and he doesn't either. If I'm, you know, not whining, but like, abrupt with him, and he's the same way, like, snappy -- as I guess you would say -- that is how we do a challenge.
That's how we are the most effective. We're not there to hold hands and kiss and makeout. It's The Amazing Race. We're in a competition. You should see us on game night in my family's house. (Laughs)
Keith Tollefson: We're both the alpha males. (Laughs)
Whitney Duncan: Thanks honey. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: On the topic of Survivor, how would you say your experience on that show differed from that of The Amazing Race?
Whitney Duncan: Well, this one was a lot better because we actually got to see amazing places together and did some really cool things as a team. And so -- and we said this early on -- on Survivor, we met and fell in love there, but technically, we were still playing an individual game.
So, it's just completely different. I mean, I enjoyed playing the Race with Keith and I think we had a blast and got to do a lot of great things we never thought we'd get to do in life.
Keith Tollefson: Yeah, it was a fun situation for us. I mean, we struggled at the start but then we started coming together. It kind of changed, the Race, under our belts. It started to get better.
We finished in fourth, third, and then, you know, unfortunately with our slip-up, when we were last and we get U-Turned, Jim and Misti slipped up before us and had a non-elimination leg -- and they don't even have to use their "Save." (Laughs)
Whitney Duncan: Yeah.
Reality TV World: A lot of Racers I've interviewed in the past talk about how draining it can all be. But was the Race sort of a breeze for you guys considering the physical conditions you endured on Survivor?
Whitney Duncan: Yeah, I think the Race, to me, is a lot more physical because you go nonstop. Survivor is just more mental to me, because, as far as the physical goes, you're not eating and, you know -- but to me, I think Survivor is a little harder mentally.
Keith Tollefson: It's kind of the opposite for me. A little bit more so, the Race was really hard on me mentally just because I'm a planner, I'm a perfectionist, and you can't plan for anything in the Race. Everything is unknown whereas with Survivor, it's extremely tough physically on your body. I mean, I lost 20 pounds, and so, (laughs) that's not good for anybody.
Reality TV World: Speaking of the mental aspect of The Amazing Race, did you guys strategize at all and start thinking about teams you'd like to align with? Were there any teams you would've liked to work with down the road or did you just plan on racing alone?
Keith Tollefson: I was trying to make alliances the entire game. Nobody wanted to, kind of, play together. Everyone was so competitive that they were really playing their individual games. At one point or another, I went to everyone and said, "Hey, if we get to this point, we should work together to make it mutually beneficial and then we'll go our separate ways."
Well, everyone, kind of, was saying the same thing, like, "No, we're going to try to do our own thing. No. we're going to..." -- I mean, just play their own race. So it got to a point where I was just like, "Alright, screw everybody! We're going to run our race like we've been doing and just start doing better than everybody else, hopefully."
Reality TV World: So you were basically just hoping to align with anyone who was willing?
Whitney Duncan: No, I wasn't.
Keith Tollefson: Oh, I was! I mean, at any moment, where anything was going to benefit us, then yes. I mean, there was a situation in Copenhagen where the surfers, [Bethany Hamilton and Adam Dirks], didn't have enough money to pay the toll to get back into the country. We were in Sweden. Brooke and Rob gave them money to get back in the country.
They might not have even finished that leg because they had no money. So, if somehow -- all these kinds of strategies that you think as a gameplayer, why would you let that team...? I understand that they're nice, but if this is a race for a million dollars, they might not be able to win that leg -- or even get back into the country let alone -- if you don't pay their fare. (Laughs)
Whitney Duncan: Yeah, I think a lot of the teams were not really strategic. They were just doing their own thing and just being nice and helping each other. I mean, you saw it with the U-Turn. They were so afraid of making Jim mad, that instead, they just gave him a free pass -- which is so ridiculous. That's not gameplay.
Reality TV World: Do you have any wedding news or plans you can share? And how about that honeymoon you guys kept mentioning on the show?
Whitney Duncan: Oh, we've been married for three months!
Reality TV World: Oh, congratulations!
Keith Tollefson: We just got back from our wonderful honeymoon in the Dominican Republic and we have a new addition to the family. It's a puppy -- a puppy only. (Laughs)
Whitney Duncan: He's nipping at my ankles as we speak!
Reality TV World: Do you two have any intention of going on another reality show in the future or do you think you've kind of had your fill in that department?
Whitney Duncan: I think we keep getting put out by people, so there are no plans in the future. But, you know, if the opportunity presents itself, we're both pretty spontaneous, and if it makes sense, then obviously we're open to it. We love new adventures!
Keith Tollefson: So far, we've both lost two million dollars each, so it's a little tough. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race? Had you been campaigning to get on the show or how did that come about?
Whitney Duncan: Basically after Survivor, we're both The Amazing Race fans, so with the casting being the same, we definitely tried for it a little bit and got shut down a few times. And finally, we got the chance to do it! So when they called, we postponed the wedding for it. So we really thought it was a great opportunity.
Keith Tollefson: It's a situation that we had been wanting for a long time and we kind of were, like, campaigning. They weren't really knocking on our door, and then when they gave us the chance to audition, we still have to produce. We still have to be an interesting couple.
It's not just something they handed to us. It's still a situation that we fought for. I mean, we had to fight to make them want us on the Race. It wasn't something that was just, "Okay, you guys have been on that show, so we'll put you on this one." That's not how it happened at all.
Whitney Duncan: Yeah, we have a really great story all the way around. So once they saw how much we bicker, they were like, "Done!" (Laughs)
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