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East Bay Couple Stars on The Amazing Race

Look for Alamo’s Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi tonight on the season premiere of CBS’ Emmy-winning reality adventure show.

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Fresh off its eighth Emmy Award win for best reality show, CBS’ The Amazing Race premieres tonight for its 19th season—and among the teams racing around the world for $1 million is Alamo’s Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi.

The couple—who met through mutual friends and were dating for eight months before filming began in Los Angeles in June—are longtime Amazing Race fans. They’re up against stiff competition, including Survivor winners Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca, Olympic snowboarders Andy Finch and Tommy Czeschin, and Zac Sunderland, the first person under 18 to sail solo around the world. But Jeremy, 35, a commercial real estate broker, and Sandy, 33, a nurse practicioner, began the race with confidence in their physical strength and friendly personalities.

Look for a profile in Diablo’s December issue, after the season wraps. But before the show airs tonight at 8 p.m., get some 411 on the team in this sneak peek:

Whose idea was it to apply as a contestant?

Sandy: It was mine. I wanted to travel—it’s my dream. I was in school until I was 28, so I haven’t ever had the time to. I thought what better way to do it?
Jeremy: Me, too. Traveling was always something I wanted to do. Sandy’s traveled more than me, but I’ve never been farther than Mexico. I really wanted to get a bigger picture of the world, outside of this great area we live in.

Were you at all concerned about how this would test your relationship?

Sandy: Very much. We hadn’t traveled together prior to this, and we were still trying to figure out our communication technique with one another. We didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be. It was a lot harder than we anticipated.

Did you have any fears or hesitations beyond your relationship, like having to eat crazy things?

Sandy: I have an extreme fear of heights, so I hoped that was something I wouldn’t have to deal with.
Jeremy: Getting sick and getting cramped on long plane rides. It’s hard for me to sit on a plane for a long period of time. Other than that, I was ready and willing to do anything.

I understand you trained at the Lafayette Reservoir, Pleasanton Ridge, and on Mount Diablo.  What all did you do to train?

Jeremy: We bought backpacks and ran with the backpacks on.We hiked up hills with the backpacks. We stuffed them full of random things. Ripped them off really fast, put them in the car, stuff like that. Also, we looked at how to buy plane tickets online and tried to get familiar with traveling last minute, with last minute details. We read world atlas books, studied geography, and learned about different types of money and exchange rates.

Going in, what did you feel were your biggest strengths as a team?

Sandy: Physically, we thought we’d be superior to other teams: We’re both really active and physically fit. We’re also pretty personable people, so we were hoping to be one of those liked teams and wouldn’t have a huge target on our back.
Jeremy: Strategically, we planned to go in and make alliances. Our plan was to make friends with as many of the teams as we could and be very likeable, so when it came to a time when we couldn’t figure something out and it was a matter of being eliminated, we could ask for help and hopefully work together with the teams. My main goal was to not get eliminated on the first leg of the race.

So, what exactly do the contestants do during all the rest stops and the long flights?  Just catch up on sleep?  Do you have any games or things to pass the time?

Sandy: Nope, you’re always playing the game. You never stop. On flights, you’re trying to get one step ahead of the next team: working on getting close to the front of the plane, or working on getting information on your destination. You never stop.
Jeremy: You really don’t. And you don’t sleep. Sleep deprivation is the hardest and most unexpected experience. I wasn’t ready for it.

Any tips for jet lag?

Sandy: I don’t think we ever got jet lag; we didn’t have time to think about. [They say] hydration, to drink plenty of water. But we didn’t because we didn’t want to have to go to the bathroom! We did just about the opposite of what you’re supposed to do.

The Amazing Race premieres tonight, Saturday September 25, at 8 p.m. on CBS. Full episodes will be available online after the broadcast at the official website, here. Connect with the team on its Facebook page, here.