Heading into The Amazing Race, gamers Burnie Burns and Ashley Jenkins knew that it would require a lot of prep. Unfortunately the one thing they seriously thought about prepping for — unicycles — was the one thing that helped do them in in the end.
The couple just missed out on their chance to compete in this week’s season finale after they switched Detours in China, and wound up getting lost on their way to the Pit Stop. It was a 45-minute setback that wound up placing them on the mat five minutes behind Sheri and Cole, solidifying their exit on the series.
Here they look back on their time on the show, which countries they’re heading back to and what viewers really don’t see from their couches every Friday night.
Are you kicking yourselves for changing detours or have you gotten over it yet?
Burns: There were a lot of things that day that added up to us being eliminated. The toughest part about that is that the unicycles was probably the thing we had the most control over. So if we could change anything that’s the one thing we could and we definitely would. It’s crazy. One of the things we had on our list of preparation activities to do before the race was to ride unicycles like that — just like those unicycles. We just didn’t get to it.
As in you were going to buy one?
Burns: Yeah. It was $800 and I just couldn’t pull the trigger on doing it. When I got back from The Race I showed Ashley, it was still in my shopping cart sitting there. I couldn’t believe we passed on that. There were a couple of weird things like that. Before we went on The Race we also had Chinese food one night and opened fortune cookies. We said, ‘Okay, this will be the fortune of how we’re going to do.’ And the front of it was like, ‘Just hold onto your dreams and everything will work out.’ But the back of the fortune said, ‘Learn Chinese.’ That’s the advice we should have followed — learn Chinese!
Do you plan on learning Mandarin or Cantonese then?
Jenkins: Yeah I’m actually learning Mandarin right now. I can ask where the library is any day. I’m going through a lesson plan so it’s got its own agenda, but I took a little detour to make sure I knew how to ask for those directions. I just can’t not find a library ever again.
Burns: That’s one of the things about The Race, you tend to speculate as you’re opening clues as to what something is going to be. But you can only base it on knowledge that you have previously. The unicycle thing is so crazy to me because that is one thing we guessed right. And that just doesn’t happen — you never actually guess what something is going to be.
Jenkins: That would have been our only right guess the entire Race, too. Every other time we were completely wrong.
How hard was it to come in second so many times but never first?
Jenkins: We were fortunate to get second so many times. The important thing was to just stay in it because that’s how we got to have all the experiences we had.
Burns: It is kind of heartbreaking to miss out on some of the trips that were awarded to people that came in first place, especially when we were standing right next to them…
Jenkins: Hearing about all of the awesome, amazing experiences they were going to get!
Burns: But the greatest adventure is to be on The Amazing Race and being second meant we got to do that for another week. It was a little disappointing, but it wasn’t depressing.
How much of the world do you feel you actually got to see given that you were racing through these countries?
Burns: Ash was way better at stopping us and looking around.
Jenkins: To the point where Bernie was dragging me around sometimes like, ‘Yes, it’s a beautiful view. We have to GO.’ The Race was very much a sample platter of some of the most amazing things you could ever see. I would love to do the whole Race again, but maybe be able to spend a week in each place.
Burns: We watch the show every week with my boys because we had to leave them for 30 days, which was so freaking tough. We made a deal with them that we’d watch the show with them and then they could pick one place we went on The Race to travel to together as a family.
Have you picked your place yet?
Jenkins: So far Dubai… we think.
Burns: Or Chamonix. They’re going back and forth.
Jenkins: They’re weighing it very heavily — they want to get the most out of their trip.
Burns: I’ve had to inform them we’re not going to race camels on 10-speeds.
It looked like you guys clashed a little with Tyler and Korey over helping other teams – looking back do you regret helping?
Burns: The episode shows us telling Sheri and Cole where the clue box was, but we also knew that right before they were walking away they had gotten the information from the currency exchange lady as well. I don’t want anybody to think we shepherded them through any kind of legs or anything like that. We definitely wanted to be in the finals with them because a lot of teams severely underestimated them. But they totally made it through on their own.
Jenkins: No one can say they didn’t earn this Race through that leg. They got lucky a couple of times earlier on but this leg they earned for sure.
What’s the most difficult thing that viewers at home don’t see?
Burns: The hardest thing to describe and probably to show on TV is just the absolute fatigue that starts to set in. You’re just racing — look at the Armenia to Georgia leg when we had to keep on racing. We started on top of a mountain in Chamonix, we went all the way to Geneva. Flew to Armenia. Raced all day there. Then we get to the mat and they say, ‘Nope, keep racing.’ So we get on a train at midnight, travel to Georgia, all over the place there and then ended up on the mat. It was just gruelling. It wears you down over time. It’s part of the reason I made so many bad decisions, we were so fatigued by the end of it.
Jenkins: The other thing that’s very difficult is the challenge of getting from Point A to Point B. We see the challenges and the Detours and the Road Blocks, but it seems like people get in a taxi then get out and do the next thing. But you spend so much time getting from one challenge to another and that’s absolutely nerve-wracking because that’s the part of The Race you have the least control over.
Burns: It looked like we lost this leg because of the Detour, but we were out of that before Sheri and Cole. We lost the leg by five minutes because we spent 45 minutes looking for the Pit Stop, it was just so hard to find.
What’s Phil Keoghan really like, in one sentence?
Burns: Yeah. He’s awesome. One of the coolest parts of being on The Race was seeing Phil for the first time, it was so surreal. He’s great! He’s a world traveler and really down-to-earth. I don’t know if most people know this but he writes all of his own scripts and everything. He’s very hands-on. He’s a really great host for the show.
Are you looking to parlay the show into anything else?
Jenkins: We already do a lot of our own video content, but the show has definitely given us more of a travel bug. I expect to do a lot more travelling. We’re going to be travelling to India very soon because that’s another country that we’ve always wanted to go to — China being the other one. So we’re going to check it off the bucket list since we had such a great time on The Race and such a great time travelling and seeing the world.
Burns: As far as the TV show goes, we see a really big shift where it seems like there’s a line about where most of the people over 28 years old get most of their entertainment from television. And most of the people under that age get most of their entertainment from online experiences. The reaction from audiences when it first came up was like, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t know who any of these celebrities are.’ So it’s really interesting to have these groups that have huge audiences, but a lot of people who watch traditional shows on TV just weren’t aware of them they had to be introduced to them, so that’s been really cool.