Getting kicked off a reality show first is never a fun thing, but someone has to be the first to go. On Tuesday night’s premiere of The Amazing Race Canada (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV) it was retired Air Force pilots Mark “Happy” LaVerdiere and Corey “Chewy” Liddle who were forced to bear that title when they lost a footrace to the leg’s finish line in Squamish, B.C.
Between having to line up again to retrieve a stuffed beaver in the cliff-diving challenge and then having to go back several times to grab crabs from a trap in the water, the duo just didn’t have the opportunity to make back their time and were promptly eliminated by host Jon Montgomery in the first episode.
We caught up with Happy who is currently on a gig overseas. He told us why it was important for him to fail in this particular instance, what it meant to him and Chewy to represent the Armed Forces and the special present that they gifted the rest of the teams.
Happy: It didn’t show in the episode but in the crab challenge we had to find a crab that was big enough and it was just pure luck. We were back and forth five times while other teams were going out once and getting it on their first try. We were back and forth, back and forth, which took 10 to 15 tries every time. We were spent.
Have you feasted on crab legs in retribution since?
Happy: We actually made up t-shirts and it says, “Got Crabs?” On the back it says “We got crabs in Squamish and they weren’t Happy crabs, they were Chewy crabs.” We gave them to all the contestants — everyone has them. Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself what’s the purpose, right?
Has your definition of what it means to be a hero changed in doing this race?
Happy: Well not really. We’re just average, ordinary Canadians. Chewy and I don’t think of ourselves as heroes. We’re just small town, average Canadians. Because we served in the Air Force we were very grateful and honoured to serve our country for a long time. I guess by definition, because we’re military, we served our country, but that doesn’t make us heroes. We try to put the needs of others ahead of our own, but I think any Canadian would do that. We’re just average guys that got a chance to do extraordinary jobs.
Was there anyone in particular you met on the race that inspired you?
Happy: We didn’t know what to expect going in. We knew we’d probably get some police officers, firefighters, the standard stereotypical type hero. But what we found — especially being the older people on the race who are dads and pushing 50 — we connected with a few of the teams. The energy and the real purity of everybody, if that makes sense. There was no one who was false, they’re all very real and down-to-earth people. We were humbled by the fact that we were even included.
Were there any other moments where you came close to experiencing a breaking point?
Happy: It all happened so fast, we were only racing for a number of hours. Our race experience was literally only a few hours. When Chewy missed the beaver in that challenge, that took a long time. It took hours to go back and do it again. And then the pole challenge, that was like 10 minutes. Of course the crab challenge, even though we had to go out there five times we were only there for about 45 minutes total. So there just wasn’t enough time to catch up. As far as breaking? We served for many years in the Armed Forces and have been through a lot of stressful situations where we’re trained to keep our cool and to not let our emotions get in the way. We’re logical people and problem solvers by definition. We’ve done the search and evasion courses where they come after us with helicopters and police dogs and being shot at while we’re flying, so we’re somewhat used to being in stressful situations. It’s only a race, so I don’t think we would have gotten to a breaking point, but we weren’t on it long enough to know.
What’s your biggest takeaway from doing this?
Happy: I’m using it as a learning experience for my children. Sometimes in life you don’t always get what you want, but in order to achieve success you have to put yourself out there. It was a little humbling to be kicked out first but I went home and said to my kids, “You’re not going to hit home runs unless you swing for the fence.” Put yourself out there in order to achieve success and sometimes it won’t work out, but pick yourself up and move forward. Learn from it, take away the good points and get rid of the bad stuff. I have twin 14-year-olds and a 21-year-old and for the most part they’ve never seen Dad fail. I’ve had a pretty successful career, so they’ve never really seen me not achieve a goal I’ve set for myself. So the fact that they saw me not achieve this goal I set for myself is probably a good thing for my children, to see it’s normal and okay to fail sometimes.
Where is Chewy?
Happy: He had to fly tonight. We’re in different bases. We’re on different schedules right now.
Is there anyone you hope will win?
Happy: It’s funny, every team brings something different to the table… flip a coin and you could take a guess!
Anything you’d like to add?
Happy: We were trying to do our best for our families, that was our motivation to do the show, but we also wanted to put a face and represent the men and women who serve our Armed Forces. It was important to us, even though we’re retired, we wanted to put our best foot forward to represent them. Even though we got kicked out first and it’s somewhat embarrassing, we hope that we did well to represent the men and women who are serving our country.