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WEB EXTRA: Extended Interview with Alamo’s Amazing Racers

Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi put their new dating relationship to the test while racing around the world.


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Sonja Flemming/CBS

Alamo’s Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi put their new dating relationship to the test while racing around the world as contestants on Emmy-winning reality show The Amazing Race.  But the couple held its own against stiff competition, including Survivor champions, Olympic snowboarders, and round-the-world sailors. As of press time, the East Bay duo had survived six legs—adventuring through Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand. Here’s our extended interview, which took place before the season premiere:

DIABLO: Sandy, I understand that you were a big fan of the show and introduced it to Jeremy.

Sandy: It is true, yes: I have not missed a season from the beginning. And Jeremy watched the last two seasons with me.

Jeremy: This show is best watched from the very beginning because it introduces all the characters and dynamics—their unresolved relationships and things going on with them. When we started watching this together, I got really into it. I identified with certain teams: Some you hate, some you love.

So, was the relational aspect of the show that appealed to you?

Jeremy: The adventure with the relational aspect. It was more the competitive side: trying to go and do these things that look so easy when you’re sitting on your couch. You just think you can go and kill this thing, and it’s so much different when you’re out there.

Whose idea was it to apply as contestants?

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.

You had some impressive competition in the other contestants. When you started the race, how did you feel you stacked up?

Sandy: You don’t really know much until Phil says, “Go.”  You cannot speak to anybody beforehand.  I knew who the Survivor couple was, so seeing them, we were thinking they’d have a target on their back.  There were some really remarkable people that raced against—everyone is pretty inspirational.

Jeremy: When we were planning and training for this, we had a lot more confidence than we did when we actually got there and started seeing some of these other teams. It’s like, okay, wow, this is some impressive competition here.

Second Leg: Indonesia / photo by Robert Voet/CBSHow long were you dating before you started the race?

Sandy: We were dating about five or six months before we applied, and about eight months before we embarked on this race.

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 maybe related to travel or eating 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 in 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.

I always wonder why more contestants don’t train on stick shifts. There’s always a team who can’t drive the provided car.

Jeremy: I know! That is a question I always have had, too! I’ve had a stick shift, so I was very confident in that.

Fourth Leg: Thailand / photo courtesy of CBSGoing 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.

Was there anything about the production that surprised you? Was everything slower or quicker than you imagined?

Jeremy: Everything about the production of the show was surprising.  This is the 19th season and they really do a great job managing and getting the shots.  It is incredible to see: The whole production has to keep up with you, and they do. It’s wild to see everyone running through a small-town airport. It’s like a tornado.

Sandy: They are absolutely remarkable—hats off to the producers.  They don’t sit back in an air-conditioned office; they’re out there, doing everything with you.

So, what exactly do the contestants do during the “pit stops” and long flights? 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 even have time about that. [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.

Are you happy to be home and relieved to not be constantly moving, or are you itching to get out again and travel?

Sandy: We’re itching to go.  I wish I could work half the year and travel half the year. We definitely want to do more charity work and volunteer work. This show gives you a bigger perspective on the world, and makes you want to slow down and really cherish the little things in life.

Jeremy: It was a very positive experience. You get to see some amazing people.  I came back with a passion to help people in need. 

Seventh Leg: Malawi / photo courtesy of CBSDo you have any idea at this point what that help might look like?

Sandy: For me: medically.  I’m a part of Operation Kids, so I do cleft repair in Guatemala, and I’m planning to go to Honduras next year with a few different medical organizations. Being a nurse practicioner in a very specialized field, I’d love to be able to do more in the realm of medicine with children.

Jeremy: We’re also already signed up to run the New York City Marathon for a charity called Grassroots Soccer. We’re raising money for that organization, for HIV prevention awareness and education.

How have you grown personally through this experience?

Sandy: My biggest takeaway is to slow down. I want to focus less on being stressed out with work and making money, and really enjoy the people around me—my friends and family—and the things that I have in life.

Jeremy: One of the biggest takeaways for me was having a simpler life, one that would allow me to detach and getaway to experience the world more often. For me, it’s a matter of being able to clear my schedule in the future—to not have a complicated mess of day-to-day craziness that keeps you locked down in your own town. While this area is the best—we love the East Bay and the Bay Area—being able to get away is important. You get a different perspective on life.

And you’re stronger as a couple after the race?

Sandy: Oh, yeah, hands down. It was a very positive experience for us. We learned a lot from it.

The Amazing Race airs Sundays on CBS through December 11. View full episodes at cbs.com.

 

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