When Nancy and Mellisa set out on The Amazing Race Canada (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET, CTV), they knew each other but not really on a personal level. Unlike the other teams they were up against, the women didn’t have a shared history other than their similar competitive sports backgrounds. Yet they still managed to make it more than nine legs of the show, all the way to the top five.
Sadly their journey came to an end on Tuesday night, thanks to some slow taxis and a difficult pico de gallo challenge in Mexico City. While Dylan and Kwame secured their first win, it came down to a footrace between Nancy and Mellisa and Courtney and Adam for the fourth-place spot. Unfortunately the ladies were just steps behind, and host Jon Montgomery was forced to eliminate them as a result.
We caught up with the duo the morning after their elimination to find out the secret to racing with a relative stranger, what made them break down during the competition, and the way they represented the Humboldt Broncos on this race.
In your own words, what happened?
Mellisa: We were a little bit unlucky, to summarize it. We were racing super strong. In the market it was super overwhelming with lots of people, lots of vendors… there were about 2,000 different merchants there. But we did really well, we just didn’t have any competition there with us, so it may have set us back. And as you saw, when we got done with the Mexican soap opera we didn’t have the speediest cab so unfortunately luck was not on our side to get to that mat.
How heartbreaking was it to have this thing come down to a footrace and lose?
Nancy: The way I look at it, I don’t see it as being super heartbreaking just because we saw some really good friends of ours, Courtney and Adam, do really well. So if it wasn’t going to be us to keep racing, I sure wanted them to keep racing. I wasn’t too heartbroken, actually.
You were essentially strangers diving into this race, what was the trick to racing while getting to know each other?
Mellisa: It was pretty condensed, but we had lots of time together not being able to do anything else. As we were prepping for the race we were getting to know each other and it was funny that we were ordering the same thing off the menu. Coming from similar backgrounds, having success in our respective sports, we just felt it would definitely be an asset going forward in this journey?
Is that the trick, finding commonalities? What other advice would you give people in your situation?
Mellisa: We’ve talked lots about not having any baggage coming into the race. Personally I have a lot of experience travelling the world with strangers, being in a World Cup environment, having to share, train, eat, sleep alongside people that I didn’t know, but by the end of the season you would get to know them very well. The unique thing about the situation for me is that I had a teammate instead of just racing on my own, so I guess you just stay open-minded and try to work together and what’s best for your partner is always the way to go.
Nancy: We had a goal in mind, and when I barrel race for example I’m. pretty focused and my mind is set on the goal. You just have to do what you have to do to get through those challenges. We just did it. I tried to keep emotion out of it and just get the job done and move on.
That’s definitely an athletic mindset, but given the stress of the race, the lack of eating and that all-around go-go-go nature, were there moments you experienced a bit of a mental breaking point?
Mellisa: There were probably several points, but we supported each other regardless of who was maybe having an off day and I guess that comes from my experience with World Cup or even family dynamics. You always try to lift the person back up.
Was there a specific challenge where you thought, “Man, this is either going to make me or break me?”
Nancy: I was gung-ho to do every challenge, I wanted and craved to do them all. I wasn’t too concerned about the challenge. But I missed my family. Come the third week in, I was ready to go home. I’ve never been away this long ever and it was super, super hard with no communication. The other thing was, I’m intense. Mel knows this… now. I’ve grown up in a family that’s been intense and I think that’s why my whole family has been successful. I had a hard time figuring out how hard to push Mel. If it was my brother for example, I’d say, “F—ing get going.” But with Mel, I know I couldn’t do that.
Mellisa: It still comes down to communication and respect. Kindness is always number one when you’re working with somebody.
Who else inspired you guys?
Nancy: I had lots of inspirations on this race. One is my daughter Kate. The reason I did this race was I wanted to show her that at any time in your life you can do anything. Anything you put your mind to. Make no excuses, go out and do it. Try something new and don’t be fearful. All of these things I wanted to show my girl. And I wanted to show other 50-year-olds in this country that you’re capable of doing anything. Anything!
Mellisa: Lots of inspiration. We wore the Humboldt Broncos ribbons on our hats, that was something that was fresh off of coming into the filming of the race. A lot of those kids are from Alberta and it struck me, being from that athletic world. And Ryan Straschnitzki, what his story is going to be now, after the tragic accident. So lots of times I was thinking about that. And other young kids that have touched my story or been a part of my story in the Olympic world. My one cousin who is in a wheelchair, her dad died of cancer… there were lots of connections with that story who helped motivate along the way. So you’re thinking about those people who are close to your heart on this journey and they give you the energy when you’re really tired.
Who are you hoping will take this thing home?
Mellisa: Adam and Courtney. We started working with them loosely—there wasn’t an alliance or anything—back in Dawson City. So we felt we had a great connection with them through our race.