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The Amazing Race 5: Thinking Smart in Episode 6by Jeffrey Clinard -- 08/16/2004
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In this leg of the race, brothers Marshall and Lance became the first team to quit the race instead of being eliminated at a pit stop. I'm not really a fan of reality TV show contestants quitting, though in this case it was understandable. Marshall needed medical attention, and if they had somehow made it to the pit stop and not been eliminated, they might have had to make a medical exit anyway. The leg clearly showed Marshall in some serious pain, and his inability to walk put them at the back of the pack during their entire time in Luxor.
Colin and Christie's lead was "only" seven hours, not twelve like I thought. However, just as is predictably, an hours-of-operation came into play, and most of that lead was eaten up waiting for the Great Pyramid to open. The rest was eaten up by the wait for the charter flight. The presence of a charter flight, to me, indicates that there were some serious logistical problems in this leg of the race. Teams were given the option of a better flight - if they could find it - but nobody could. I suspect there is an imbalance of supply and demand for air travel between these two cities, and the charter jet was the production team’s answer to it. Otherwise, flights could seriously have unbalanced the race - something the producers don't want.
The producers also tampered with race conditions in this episode by actually making it easier to recover from bankruptcy than it might have appeared. From what I could tell, only three things required money in this leg - transport from the Pyramids to Cairo, transport from Luxor's airport to the Karnak temple, and tickets to that temple. In all other segments, transport was provided, either by carriage or by marked taxicab. Of course, the producers had Phil take away all the money from the last place team in the first place, but an examination of the facts of the leg show that it more of an annoyance than a serious impediment to the unlucky team.
On the whole, though, there were few real opportunities for a smart team to get ahead in this leg. The one real choice was the Detour - "Haul It" was a better choice than "Herd It." One of the clues that it might have been better was the fact it was three miles away while the other task was five miles away. In context of using a horse-drawn carriage to get there, it provided several minutes of time advantage up-front. The task also proved easier to perform. Herd It quite simply required one team member to keep the animals on the boat, leaving only one to get the animals into the boat. They then had to cross the Nile. Finally, they had to unload the animals off the boat.
In any case, Haul It gave the two teams who selected that option an advantage going into the Roadblock. I'm not a fan of Roadblocks such as this (finding the scarab) which depend mostly on luck. I believe there are better ways to incorporate local history and traditions into a race than a blind buried treasure hunt. It could end up being the difference in a leg, and I would prefer to see tasks where smart thinking is rewarded. However, that's just my opinion.
Still, it does seem the smartest teams are pulling ahead and are consistently among the top of the standings. Sometimes there are anomalies, but in the end, smart racing will almost always win out over luck.
So, with that, which teams were thinking smart in episode six?
Colin and Christie: This team consistently takes advantage of opportunities, such as getting extra sleep while waiting for the Great Pyramid to open, and attempting to get a better flight than the charter plane offered. From then on out, they made a smart decision about which detour to take, which bought them extra time at the dig site. I'm also saluting this team for refusing to be intimidated by Charla and Mirna. They wouldn't let her take their cab (with their bags still in it), and quite correctly pushed Mirna out of the way when exiting the ticket line at the temple. My PVR shows that at 24 Minutes, 58 seconds, Mirna was NOT in line for tickets - she was standing in the EXIT path right in front of them. I can only interpret that as her attempting to block them. There is only one good way to deal with somebody who pulls that kind of stunt, and that's to run right over them. I doubt Mirna will try that kind of move again.1 2 Next-->
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