From the start, Kristen McKenzie and Steph LeClair had one clear goal: to be the first girls to win The Amazing Race Canada. The fourth season came with plenty of challenges (including Steph almost losing her finger in Havana after a machete accident), but in the end they managed to cross the finish line just ahead of Jillian and Emmett to fulfill that goal.
Tuesday night’s finale was a nail-biter for sure. In Montreal, the teams were faced with some of their hardest tasks yet, including a Cirque du Soleil training camp, Montreal bagel deliveries, repelling, climbing and of course the big challenge — recalling phrases from all along the race.
In the end the dating couple and former varsity softball players proved they had the strength, endurance and mental toughness to beat out the dudes, and won themselves two new cars, a trip around the world and that awesome quarter-of-a-million dollar cash bonus for doing it.
We caught up with them the morning after the finale to chat all things race, playing “like a girl” and what they plan to do with all that tax-free cash.
Was there a point along the way you thought to yourselves, “Man we might win this thing”?
McKenzie: We never want to get to0 far ahead of ourselves so throughout the whole time we were never like, “We’re winning this, we’re winning this.” We knew we could, but we didn’t want to think like that. The first time we actually thought we had it was when we got the final task done and saw “Access Granted.” We were like, “Oh my gosh, we might actually have this.”
LeClair: It wasn’t until that last task.
How far ahead of Jillian and Emmett were you, actually?
LeClair: We were close, but not that close. We knew leaving that last challenge that we did have a bit of a gap, but anything can happen. Our cab could have gotten lost. Until we saw Jon, we knew there was a possibility that maybe we weren’t winning it. Until you step on that mat you have no idea.
It seemed like most of the eliminated teams were rooting for you too – did you get that sense?
McKenzie: We had so many great relationships on the race so it felt amazing to be able to step on that mat and look around and see friends cheering for us. That was a really special moment and it meant a lot to us.
LeClair: And honestly, it felt sincere too. It wasn’t like they were clapping because they were told to clap. All the teams really looked sincere and excited for us and that’s what made it even more emotional. It’s like, not only were we on the mat first, we did it for each other, to be the first all-girl team to win, but everyone else looked like they were proud for us too. Even the other teams thought we deserved it, which was nice.
What was the key to keeping your relationship in check?
McKenzie: We had a sincere respect for one another and we always have. We were worried going in; we’re both super competitive, maybe we’d butt heads, but that didn’t matter. Our competitiveness just melded together and we worked super well as a team. It came down to the fact that we were having fun as much as we honestly could and we supported each other. Not everyone has perfect moments but we just made sure that when one of us was struggling the other one was lifting the other up.
What’s your best memory or moment from the whole thing?
McKenzie: That’s the hardest question – every moment, leg, even the stuff you don’t see on TV, like having time in the hotel room and talking about what we just did the last day… everything is the best experience ever. If there was one moment it was probably stepping on that mat in the final leg. Nothing will ever feel like that again. The moment we stepped on that mat or even running up to that mat, knowing that we had it… it’s hard to describe. So many emotions, so many feels.
LeClair: This is a side story but when I was done university I planned on moving to Montreal. So I moved there and lived there for a couple of weeks and went through a weird transition phase where I had just moved back from the States and I didn’t know where I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. I actually went for a long run up Mount Royal and I stood in the exact same spot where that pit stop was and I remember looking out at Montreal and wondering what I was going to do with my life. To have that come full circle I got goosebumps. It was insanely cool.
McKenzie: And then weeks after she had that moment she moved back to Toronto and then we hung out!
If you had to lose to any other team, which would it be?
LeClair: Frankie and Amy deserved it because they worked hard and they were the fourth team. If you’re going to go out the first team in the race is hard and the fourth-last team in the race is hard because you’re right there. We would have loved to see them win, but we had good relationship with everyone.
McKenzie: Just from knowing the challenges Julie and Lowell had, it would have been cool just to see him overcome and go forward too.
What does the term, “Play Like A Girl” mean to you guys?
McKenzie: Play like a badass, you mean?! Girls probably kick boys butts. You can be a girl and kick butt, you can be strong, independent and just work for everything.
LeClair: I’ll take it as a compliment!
What are you going to do with the cash?
LeClair: I have a lot of law school debt so this is going to be really awesome to help clear that – and I think Kris is really excited about that too. And then we’re going to take some of it to go travelling, and maybe put it towards a property or do some investment with the rest of it.
Where else can we see you now?
McKenzie: We’re on social media and we have some plans to travel coming up, so we’re thinking of maybe documenting our travels and our experiences and making some videos and blogs and see how that goes.
Softball is returning to the Olympics, any chance we could see you as commentators or something along those lines?
LeClair: Probably not – maybe they’d get someone more recent? We’re washed up now! We’ll watch though. It would be cool if they chose us – we would do it!
McKenzie: We’ll be in the stands drinking!