As cowboys who rode bucking beasts for a living, Jet and Cord McCoy learned a long time ago to hang on tightly.
They’ve been doing that through seven legs of Season 24 of “The Amazing Race.” On Sunday night, the brothers began the seventh episode of the reality TV series as one of seven teams still in the race around the world for the $1 million first-place prize. When the show concluded, they held on to fourth place and advance to the eighth leg, which will air Easter Sunday, April 20, on CBS-TV.
More importantly, the brothers held on to their Express Pass, which was their reward for winning the opening episode of the race. By having it, they will be allowed to skip a challenge during one leg of the race; the one wild card with the Express Pass is that it must be used by the eighth leg of the race, which is next week.
“Holding on to the Express Pass this long, I think, has been huge for us,” Jet said.
It has. The McCoys, who grew up in tiny Tupelo, Okla., have handled all the challenges that have come their way so far. In fact, they’ve won two heats. Of greater importance is that they are one of six teams remaining in the around-the-world marathon.
“On the very next leg, we have to play the Express Pass,” Cord said. “Then, on the other hand, I think we’ve got the bulls-eye on us, so we’re going to have to beat everybody the next leg of the race.”
The seventh leg of the race began in Sri Lanka, but the scenery quickly changed. The brothers were the second team to leave the mat in the country’s largest city of Colombia and quickly figured out that the Eternal City was Rome; teams were directed to the Hadrian Bridge to find their next clue in the race.
“Hadrian was one of the emperors of Rome,” Jet told his brothers as they made their way to a travel agent.
Each of the teams was on the same overnight flight. Once they arrived at Hadrian Bridge, the clue directed the teams to the Detour, where they were to either be gladiators or charioteers; The Cowboys chose the horses. The thing was, the horses plastic-like creatures that were part of remote control vehicles, and teams had to race around the obstacle-laced track with one team member steering and the other controlling the speed.
“The chariot race was crazy,” Jet said. “There were rocks, and you really had to watch out for all the other racers who were driving around like Sri Lankans.”
The McCoys were the fifth team to arrive at the chariot race and the second to leave. The next clue took them to the Piazza Di Spagna, and the clue referred to poet John Keats’ former home. Unfortunately, most of the Roman cabbies interpreted the clue as to a street, not the plaza; therefore, most teams had to backtrack to the Piazza Di Spagna.
There the teams had to face the Road Block, where one member had to count the number of steps at the plaza and add that figure to the roman numerals on the monument, which indicated what year the monument was erected. The total then had to be rewritten in roman numerals for the teams to advance to the pit stop at Piazza Del Popolo.
Jet did the counting for the McCoys, then the brothers raced to the finish. The married tandem of Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly were first to the mat. Dave and Connor O’Leary allowed The Country Singers, Jennifer Wayne and Caroline Cutbirth, to finish second, while the father-son team finished third.
The Afghanamals, Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran, placed fifth, then they and host Phil Keoghan watched a mad race to the finish. The Globetrotters, Herb Lang and Nate Lofton, edged the engaged couple, John Erck and Jessica Hoel, to the mat; Erck and Hoel were eliminated.
“This race has been so super competitive,” Keoghan said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a season where teams are so close running in to the mat.”