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Amazing Race 4: Thinking Smart in Episode 11by Jeffrey Clinard -- 08/14/2003
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What went wrong in this leg? A single mistake - but an important one. One of racing ability.
Travel time on the long legs is the most important thing in the Race. Not racing ability on Detours and Roadblocks - just racing skills. Jon & Al went down because they failed at a crucial step in the game. If you don't understand it, then ask yourself which will kill a team the most at this stage - 10 minutes of Roadblock or Detour errors or an hour of travel?
And kill them it does. The clowns go down in defeat because they lost the best advantage a team has - time. They lost two hours and never made it up. No matter how good they were at racing, a mistake of two hours it fatal at this point.
This leg’s Detour offered teams a choice between Face First or Foot First. Which was faster? Face First - scary but not hard. Indeed, many Detour tasks give a choice between time or terror, and most teams pick terror, as they did in this case. What a clever reader once told me was that might not be the best route. The best Detour route is the one that gets you to the checkpoint the fastest. So while a 12-mile checkpoint out of the way may not seem the smartest, it might be the best since it gets you 12 miles closer to the checkpoint. But teams can't know that from the start and have to work with the information available. It could be 12 miles in the wrong direction, for both scary and easy tasks.
David & Jeff Fast Forwarded this round. Smart? Maybe. The indications are that it was the last one, and getting the last possible time advantage is smart. They got a great time advantage for little risk (with the clowns two hours behind). It took time, but all the Fast Forwards in this Race were at least as long as the Detour or Roadblock. Fast Forwards are just not as valuable as they seem. Their best possible use is to avoid elimination. The best teams understood this and only used it when it gained them a lot of hours or elimination avoidance.
So which teams were thinking smart in Episode 11?
David & Jeff. If this was the last Fast Forward, they did well to use it as it was the last time advantage they could gain. It wasn't the best use of it ever, but if you lasted this long without having to take it, it means you are doing something right. You got cold in the surf? So what? Admit it – you'd do more than that for a million dollars. I know I would.
Kelly & Jon. Kelly, don't take me wrong for saying that breaking a nail is worth it. I cut mine off every week. I think a broken nail is worth the money. Break all of them if it wins you the Race.
Reichen & Chip (have used Fast Forward). While they didn't do everything right; they did it all well enough. But that is not good enough to win. Plus, they cheated. Maybe they didn't mean to, but they did violate the rules. For once, Kelly & Jon knew another team was cheating, and their fear of elimination was unfounded. Reichen & Chip may have known. Maybe they didn't. But that time penalty could have cost them everything.
Jon & Al. Why did you lose? Because hours are EVERYTHING. You lost not because of bad task skills, but bad racing skills that caught up to you. The other teams beat you because the lost hours on the flight cost you everything. You were elite, but lost because when it counted, you fell down on getting a flight. If it means anything, I'm sorry. I always liked you, and wanted you to win. You don't have $1,000,000, but you do have my respect.
Jeffrey Clinard lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his cats, Lam and Princess. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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