Although Ron’s seemingly endless quest for the meaning of life in India ultimately cost him and daughter Christina their lives on “The Amazing Race” Sunday night, the often temperamental dad shared a surprisingly zen philosophy about their elimination during a call Monday. “I just appreciate this grand opportunity to spend time with my daughter before she got married. It was really truly a gift,” he said. Below, the two discuss their hardest challenge this season, why they credit the show with improving their relationship, and how Christina found her husband Azaria (they married earlier this Spring) on the Race.
On where they watched Sunday’s episode [Christina was in Washington D.C.; Ron was in Tacoma, Wash.]:
Christina: I watched with family and friends and so did my dad. We call each other after every episode. [Last night] I just said “I’m proud of you.” My dad and I raced for the experience. It just brought back such happy memories of us traveling together, despite the elimination. Varanasi [India] was beautiful chaos.
Ron: It was a wonderful experience. Even though it was disappointing to be eliminated, and all the smells and sights and frustrations all came back in one big emotion, it was wonderful to see it with our family. I sort of relived the whole woulda coulda shoulda, and I knew that my downfall was spending too much time on the river Ganges, where I thought the holy men should be. It was frustrating to see that, but nevertheless I saw little snippets where even though I was racing intensely, I said “Hey, I enjoyed asking this guy, because he has colorful garb on,” and the smells and everything just came back. It was a mixed emotion, but most of it was happy memories.
On whether they confronted the Globetrotters about their misplaced fanny packs:
Christina: It was totally smoothed over. We’d gotten to the mat, and it was not a big deal. The Globetrotters were our friends before and after the incident. It was a huge misunderstanding. We talked with them on our way to China and we were all just like, “We’re all so sleep deprived.” It was fine. There wasn’t really a confrontation. When we checked into the Pit Stop, we had no idea they would get a penalty. We would have never ever wished that upon them. It was funny watching it because the reality is we’re really good friends with them.
On their least favorite challenge this season:
Ron: In hindsight I should have taken that dinosaur challenge because Christina was the shortest and the lightest person there. That was very difficult for me to see her.
Christina: No regrets, but I think that waterfall was really tough. I definitely felt like there was a point where I couldn’t breathe under it. I was told later that that’s the first sign of hypothermia. It was so cold. The Race this time around was physically more demanding and exhausting.
Ron: That was tough. It was like twenty-five pounds of rocks on my bald head!
On why they decided to return for a second time in light of Ron’s recent back surgery:
Ron: I was sort of a bionic person with a fused back. But I walked without any pain. I know I’m not as physically fit as the younger Racers, but it was an opportunity to be with Christina right before she got married – to travel around the world and bond with my daughter. We only see each other once or twice a year; she lives three thousand miles away. I had such a neat time, being there 24/7 with her. We were lucky to be on.
Christina: We accepted in a heartbeat. For us, it’s always been about the experience. Of course winning is great, and we always have our eye on the prize – we have that competitive spirit. But we’re never going to compromise who we are because of the Race. What ultimately led us to the Race in the very beginning was just a love for travel. My parents have instilled that in me and my sister. Absolutely, even though we don’t spend that much time in each city, seeing new places, smelling new smells, and meeting new people is really a hobby of ours. I saw sides of him I’ve never seen. He was a really fun partner. It was awesome. We were cognizant of his health, and he insured me he was physically safe.
On Christina’s wedding to former Racer Azaria:
Christina: Earlier this Spring we got hitched. I was so proud and blessed to have my parents walk me down the aisle. It was really a beautiful, emotional moment. We didn’t have anything “Amazing Race”-themed at the wedding, but there was no avoiding how we met! It’s funny – Azaria and I met as competitors. There’s no way that three years ago when we first met we would have thought we’d be where we are now. But he’s my best friend and we’re just so happy together. It’s kind of crazy, but when you know, you know.
Ron: We’re so grateful for the Race. Christina had the opportunity to meet her soul mate. They’re a wonderful family.
Christina: Azaria and I were just friends on the show. I was actually a lot closer with Hendekea [his sister]. We talked on the phone more. But it wasn’t until after the Race aired, Azaria and I started clicking. It was long distance for a while. But when your conversations start going from twenty minutes to four hours, you kind of wonder, Maybe there’s something here. Having my dad there – although it sounds weird – was a blessing in disguise. Azaria and Hendekea were a team we gravitated toward because we shared the same family values. They were also there for the sheer fun of it – not fame. We really bonded over enjoying seeing new cultures.
On their strategy this season, and how their relationship has grown:
Ron: [There's a lot of] Pressure of the Race. I love it, and wanted to make sure that we didn’t get eliminated, and I wanted to make sure not to disappoint Christina, [but also] keep things in perspective. We wanted to be more uplifting. We wanted to enjoy the moment and each culture. You race at such a frenzied pace that you don’t always get to enjoy the scenery or the sights and sounds. We tried to do as much of that as possible.
Christina: We did change our game plan. As my dad said, it was all about keeping things in perspective. We decided to go on the Race because we wanted to spend time together. If most of that time is spent frantically, then it’s really not fun. Our relationship has improved because of the Race, and we’re grateful for that. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from my dad, which is: take time to smell the roses. Get a meal in India, it’s okay – we’ll still make our flight.