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TAR 24: David O'Leary & Connor O'Leary (TAR 22) "Father/Son"

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Ruth Myles: Dave and Connor O’Leary talk about winning The Amazing Race All-Stars
Posted by: Ruth Myles - May 20, 2014. 3:12 pm

From the bottom to the top, Dave and Connor O’Leary have run the gambit on The Amazing Race.

After the duo had to drop out of the show’s 22nd season after Dave ruptured his Achilles, the father-and-son team took the top prize two seasons later, winning $1 million after finishing first on The Amazing Race All-Stars.

The cancer survivors (Dave had prostate cancer, Connor testicular) is the first parent-child team to win the competition and Dave, now 59 but 58 during the Race, is the oldest winner. The comeback kids won points with viewers for their straight-forward take on the dramatics that sometimes come with reality TV series. I caught up with them by phone in Utah to talk about their incredible journey.

Question: How does it feel now that you can talk about winning The Amazing Race?
Connor: It’s such a relief. It was so hard keeping it a secret for so long. We told people that we won a trip on the prior season to Thailand. And so we told everybody that we were taking that trip and extending it, making it a little bit longer.
Dave: You know, it’s hard when you have to lie to people. At least you want to have a credible lie.

Q: What was your reaction when you were approached to do All-Stars?
Dave: Honestly, I was shocked. It was maybe just over a year ago, I was seven months into recovery from my Achilles’ surgery. They called and said, ‘How is your Achilles?’ and talked in generalities, then they started getting a little more specific. ‘Do you have sense where this is going?’ and I said, ‘Yes, and we’re in!’ There wasn’t a second thought. We just felt like we wanted a chance to come back and see how far we could really go.
Connor: To be completely honest, I was a little worried at the outset. It’s a year recovery and it was really close to a year when we were called back. I definitely wanted us to take it a bit easier this time as far as the running and sprinting goes.

Q: Can you talk about the physical toll running the Race takes on you?
Connor: Before I was on the show, watching it, I would be, ‘Oh, it’s hard, but it can’t be that hard.’ I’m an athlete and I train five, six hours a day on a bike. The amount of pressure and you’re tired and you’re stressed and you’re hungry, it all just accumulates. It is an extremely, extremely physical thing to do the Race.
Dave: The first leg of this season, we landed in Guangzho (China), and honestly, when we were done, I felt like we had run a marathon. There was a lot of running during that leg, especially in that wedding dress district. I bet we ran for 40 minutes trying to find that shop. And then once we got to the tower where we needed to go up and get up into the bubbles, we were running all day. At the end of it, I thought, ‘Holy mackerel, if every leg is like this, I will either be in super shape or it will kill me.’

Q: You said that more than once this Race!
Dave: Believe me, I felt it more than once. People gave me grief about saying I was old, but with the exception of Margie (O’Donnell) and I guess Mark (Jackson) but they were gone pretty early on, I have kids older than everyone else on the Race.

Q: What was your toughest day on All-Stars?
Connor: For us, I think it was the leg in England and Wales. We had a really hard day. It was probably the most stressful day we had. We were lost almost all day. It was a frustrating day, for sure.

Q: What was your best, other than winning?
Connor: I think our best was in Switzerland when we won the cars. It was an awesome day.
Dave: That was really a fun day. And also the day with the first leg in Sri Lanka was such a neat day. To be on that train and fish on those platforms was amazing.

Q: The alliance to oust Brendan and Rachel was a bit of a polarizing factor this season. Can you talk about that?
Connor: After the U-Turn, we formed an alliance with The Afghanimals and The Country Girls. We just thought, you know, we’re going to try to stick together and make that the final three.

Q: Watching it play back, how do you feel about it now?
Dave: I will just say from my standpoint I think we really overreacted to being U-Turned. In hindsight, it didn’t hurt us that badly. But it just didn’t make sense. I am a businessman. I try to make logical decision and it didn’t seem like a logical decision to us. We certainly could have U-Turned The Cowboys, but at that point we knew The Cowboys would only have to ride the donkeys and they are world-champion bullriders. How long is it going to take them to do that?

Q: What are the plans for the cash?
Connor: To be honest, I will probably just save or invest the majority of it. I will definitely give back to cancer research.
Dave: It’s kind of the $64,000 question, or the half-million-dollar question. For me, I will do the same, and I will certainly donate some for cancer research. I’ll be 60 years old this year and I’m thinking of what’s going to happen when I get old enough that I am supposed to retire.

Q: When you’re supposed to slow down?
Dave: I don’t want that! This might come back to haunt me, but I hope I am going strong until the end.

Q: Dave, how hard was that final challenge? Earlier we saw you on the window-washing scaffold with your face planted firmly toward the building.
Dave: Oh, it was terrifying. When I got in that helicopter I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’ But as we got closer to it, I kind of calmed down and thought, ‘I have to do it. I am going to take a lot of deep breaths and try to enjoy it.’ The first few seconds out of the helicopter, I thought, ‘Whoa, this is terrifying!’ but then it was kind of peaceful. You have this beautiful Las Vegas skyline. My stomach went into my throat when the ‘chute opened and I thought, ‘Wow, we’re going to survive!’

Q: The second season of The Amazing Race Canada is in the works. As the winning team, what advice would you give the racers?
Connor: From the outset, our advice would definitely be read the clue, like everybody says. And the second thing, which is really hard to do, is slow down. We would always rip the clue and take off like chickens with our heads cut off. And then we’d realize, if we just slow down, we probably will make fewer mistakes.
Dave: I think that is really good advice. Frankly, the opportunity we had was to play off each other’s strengths and to try to maximize that. I would advise any team to try to recognize what the strengths and weaknesses of each other are, and maximize those strengths.

I know this is not the favorite team for a lot of people but I personally liked this team and thought this article is worth reading

Utahn beats cancer, wins Amazing Race, now attempting to break epic record
Updated: Saturday, May 30, 2015 | Chris Miller
(KUTV) He beat cancer, he won The Amazing Race, now Salt Lake City's Connor O'Leary is off to Canada for life's next big challenge: The Tour Divide.

It's an epic mountain bike trek, known as perhaps the most difficult endurance-cycling race there is.

"You go through some of the most populated grizzly country, you're constantly above 10,000 feet," said Connor, who has been traveling around the world and training, since winning season 24 of The Amazing Race alongside his father, David.

In a few weeks, Connor heads to Canada, to cycle 2,745 miles, across the spine of the Continental Divide. Alone.

"I'll have somebody drop me off in Banff and pick me up in Mexico," he said. "It's making the realization going into it that things will go wrong,"

He'll bike through two countries, five states and will climb more than 200,000 feet. That's like cycling up Mt. Everest -- seven times!

If it sounds tough, consider this: Connor's had tougher. As a 19-year-old, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, a disease he beat in 2011.

"At some point it's not so much physical as it is mental," he says about the upcoming ride. "I mean waking up, getting on your bike for 16 hours, sleeping for a few and then doing it all over."

Connor is no slouch when it comes to cycling. He's a former member of USA Cycling's  Under-23 National Team and he has an impressive list of cycling victories and accomplishments, but nothing quite like the Tour Divide.

The current record for the Tour Divide is 15 days, 16 hours, 4 minutes. At 23-years-old, Connor intends to beat that time.

"It's a pretty lofty goal, that's over 175 miles a day, but if I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it!"

 The Tour Divide begins June 12, in Banff, Alberta.

I liked Connor, and his story is really moving.

I didn't like the team in the race because 150% screentime of the whole TAR24 was Dave saying stupid things. But Connor was nice and liked racing, and overcoming cancer and doing what he's done is really impressive.

Go Connor <3333


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