Love Conquers All: An Interview with Debra & Steve from The Amazing Race 4by Phil Kural -- 06/11/2003
Married couple Debra & Steve were the first team eliminated from this season of The Amazing Race. In this interview with RealityNewsOnline, they talk about how they have become closer because of the race, where they want to go from here, and how they ended up being eliminated first. Oh, not to mention someone else being caged for six weeks!
RealityNewsOnline: Did it annoy you that the two models behind you didn't wait for you to complete the trip across the wire bridge, especially considering that the other teams waited patiently for one another?
Steve: I was just glad to see them helping Debra off the rope bridge.
Debra: Not really. I was so focused on keeping both feet connected to the rope that I really didn't know what was happening behind us. It was nice to know that we beat them up the mountain. I also had a lot of faith in the technical crew. By the time I made it across, if T & J hadn't been there, I'm not sure I could have gotten off of the rope because I couldn't kneel on my right knee.
RNO: Would you recommend TAR to other couples who are in less than top physical condition or did you feel that the demands placed on you were too tough?
Debra: Our loss had nothing to do with our physical condition. We didn't get to the airport in time to catch the first or second plane because we missed a turn. When we arrived in Milan, we were the first off of the last plane to get to the Galleria. Unfortunately, the only bus tickets we could find were for the third bus. When the third bus got to Cortina, we were the second to the ski lift. I think if you took the times of each team to complete the snow challenges, we might not have been the slowest. If we could have made it to one of the earlier flights, it would have been a very physically fit team that would have been eliminated on the first leg. It's a game of luck as much as physicality.
RNO: Did you find out that Reichen and Chip are a married gay couple before you were eliminated? Do you know if any of the other teams knew?
Steve: In a word, DUH. Everyone figured it out pretty quick.
Debra: Of course we knew and I sure most of the other teams knew as well although it was never discussed in my presence. They were very loving and caring towards each other and the matching wedding bands were certainly a giveaway.
RNO: Was there anything that the two of you could have done differently that may have helped or saved you in the race?
Steve: As a former police officer, Debra knows how to handle a vehicle flying thru traffic. She's a much faster driver than I am. If Debra had driven, we may have made it to the airport first, but to be honest, her driving is sometimes scarier than the rope bridge and the zip line combined.
Debra: The only thing that would have ultimately saved us was to get to the airport in time to make it on one of the first two planes. Maybe if I had driven and let Steve navigate we would have gotten there sooner... but maybe not.
RNO: How did you pass the time after the race was over? Were you allowed to have any sort of contact with anyone from home?
Steve: We can't really say what we did, except to say we had a great time. We were not allowed to call home. But that was fine, that means we had a great vacation. No calls, except to room service.
RNO: Was there ever a point that you just wanted to throw in the towel?
Steve: We didn't face some of the painful challenges faced by the other teams. For example, trying to keep racing even with a severe leg injury (like Dave). But I would like to think we would have continued on in any event. It's about the challenge, not the pain.
Debra: NEVER!!!! The absolutely hardest element was climbing up the hill after the mountain challenges. But even then knowing that we were most probably going to be "PHILiminated," we knew that on past shows other teams had made mistakes that saved what appeared to be the last team. If the "goats" had not found their way back or if Dave had injured his knee to the point of being incapacitated or any number of other accidents, NEVER give up... it feels great to give it your all.
RNO: Did you know that you were in last place, or did you think that you were still ahead of one or two teams?
Steve: There was always the possibility somebody's cab would get a flat, the driver would misread the instructions, Jaree would need another coffee or smoke, the goats would get lost (AGAIN!). The race is never over, until Phil raises his eyebrow.
Debra: Once T & J passed us, we knew we were in last place... but we continued on with a much effort as if they were still behind us.
RNO: Was going for the fast forward an option? Why did you decide not to go for it?
Steve: We knew going for the fast forward would be a truly stupid move by someone on the first two buses, so we just knew someone had to do it. Luckily, we didn't go for it.
Debra: I don't know why... but we just knew that it had been taken. In retrospect, we made the right choice.
RNO: What do your children think about the two of you being on TV? What was their reaction to the two of you being eliminated first?
Debra: My children are AMAZING! They were supportive from the outset and one of the reasons I wanted to do the show. I wanted to last longer to face more challenges but after the show aired my youngest called to say that she was glad we were eliminated because she wasn't sure she could take the stress of watching another episode.
Steve: We also would like to thank our beagle, Switzer (you can see him at the beginning of the show). Switzer had to endure a six-week stay at a kennel. Thanks boy, have another dog biscuit.
RNO: How does it feel to be the center of attention right now? Do you welcome all the media and press, or would you rather life to go right back to "normal"?
Steve: Aside from some kidding from my fellow reporters, we have pretty much been spared a lot of media attention. But what we have had has been kinda fun.
Debra: Other than a lot of attention on the Internet, there really hasn't been too much attention other than from our family and friends. Our day-to-day lives have not really been affected except for the time we have spent doing the show and some doing interviews.
RNO: Do either of you plan on using your newfound status to advance your careers?
Steve: If I have any hope it is that curious people will learn about the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, the artists' colony Debra runs. The Center provides a place for artists to paint, write, and whatever. If you want to learn more about the center, go to maryandersoncenter.org.
Debra: Maybe a show for middle aged married couples who like to do crazy things... or maybe a TV or radio talk show giving advice... Steve's quite the sensitive new age guy.
RNO: The two of you had a very strong relationship and that was quite clear. What would you say the key to your strong bond is? Do you have any advice to other couples explaining how your relationship works?
Steve: We love each other, we care for each other's feelings, and we know at the end of the day it's just us... million dollars or no.
Debra: Giving advice on how to have a happy fun marriage... sounds like maybe we should sit in for Dr. Phil when he is on vacation or write another relationship book... you know there are just never enough of them.
RNO: If given the chance, would you two do the race again, or is once enough?
Steve: Once is never enough. Come on, Bert, how about a Losers' edition of TAR.
Debra: I'd get on a plane tomorrow and do it again in a heartbeat.
RNO: Did you have a chance to get to know any of the other teams? Is there a certain team that you still keep in contact with?
Steve: We've enjoyed keeping in touch with everyone. (Yes, including Tian and Jaree)
Debra: Since the show has ended, we have stayed in touch with most of the teams through the Internet and on the phone. I truly hope that these friendships last a lifetime.
RNO: How would you sum up your experience on the race? Do you suggest it to other couples that would want to use the race as a way to build their relationship, or would something a little less stress-free be the way to go?
Steve: I wouldn't recommend it to couples that need relationship building. This is a very stressful activity. You need a strong bond. Not just to survive the race, but the rest as well.
Debra: While it's not the best way to begin or end a relationship, it would make for boring TV is all of the couples were as compatible as Steve and I.
RNO: Anything else to add?
Steve: I do have one request. For everyone who loves TAR and wants a TAR5, now is the time to act. We need to get more people to watch and fall in love with TAR the way we do. Organize TAR watching parties. Get your friends to watch. Remember, "friends don't let friends watch FRIENDS!"
Phil Kural is a senior at Temple University, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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