I get my Sunday nights off now that Battle of the Blades has wrapped, but my TAR correspondent Astrid Lange doesn't. Here's here latest recap:
The teams began the 10th leg of the Race immediately after arriving at the gazebo Pit Stop in Brussels. Despite last week's preview that led many viewers to think Bill and Cathi would be eliminated at the beginning of the leg (the preview conveniently left out any scenes with the grandparents), all teams got the chance to continue racing.
Amani and Marcus left the Pit Stop first and headed for the Ford proving ground in Lommel. But Ernie and Cindy, and Jeremy and Sandy were not far behind. Amani and Marcus wasted time at a store that couldn't print a map and directions for them, allowing Ernie and Cindy, and Jeremy and Sandy, who received directions at a hotel and stationery store respectively, to easily pass them.
Still back at the bodybuilding venue, the snowboarders (who were humbled by a task that they couldn't complete with ease) and Bill and Cathi finally received the 12 points they needed to move on. On the way to the Pit Stop, the grandparents were convinced they were going to be eliminated but were pleasantly surprised when Phil informed them they were still racing.
Remember when product placement on television shows used to be subtle? Certainly not on this show, as teams arrived at the Ford proving ground, a testing environment for Ford cars. At this Road Block, one member of each team got the chance to master a Ford Mustang by taking it through three different courses: speed, slalom and doughnut, with a Ford test driver in the passenger seat. Have I mentioned this Road Block is sponsored by Ford?
Ernie was the first to tackle the Road Block. He performed the speed test well but had to do the slalom challenge over and over again (at least 15 times by his count) because he was either not fast enough, or he knocked down a cone, or he hit the big inflatable balloon at the end. He finally performed to the satisfaction of the tester, but only minutes before Jeremy did, too.
Despite Amani and Marcus's initial lead, they arrived at the proving ground third and just seconds before the snowboarders. Andy reluctantly let Tommy do this task even though he said he loves to race cars almost as much as snowboarding. Apparently, they decided that since Tommy had such a hard time with the poem memorization on the previous leg, they would leave all "mind" challenges for Andy and Tommy would do everything else. Fair enough, but you could tell Andy was seething with jealousy.
Marcus got his adrenaline going on this challenge, comparing the feeling to scoring touchdowns and the birth of his children. Andy did not want to hear Tommy talk about how much fun it was to put pedal to the metal and began bickering with his teammate after he finished the task. Quickly realizing the sin in his heart, Andy asked Christ for forgiveness. Jesus must have said, "Yeah, OK, you're forgiven" because the snowboarders quickly got back on track.
Bill and Cathi? Yes, they were there, too, but lagging behind at the bottom of the pack. Though Bill did get some nice compliments on his driving from the test driver.
From the proving ground, teams made their way to the city of Ghent, where their Detour was a choice between building a raft out of logs and barrels and then paddling up the canal to find two pieces of a clue, or building a waffle stand and making 18 perfect Belgian waffles.
Ernie and Cindy, and Jeremy and Sandy decided to take on the waffles, as they have not had much luck with previous water challenges. But the waffle task was a little more challenging then they had expected. Ernie and Cindy struggled with building the stand, claiming they weren't tall enough. And those 18 perfect waffles? They weren't just making plain old waffles, they had to make waffles with elaborate toppings and placed in the same order as a set of waffles at another stand which they were using as a guide.
Seeing what a tough time the waffle teams were having with batter thickness and presentation, the snowboarders and Amani and Marcus decided to build rafts instead. The snowboarders were back to their old selves and zoomed through the raft task, and became the first team to get the clue for the next stop: de Muur van Geraardsbergen. Ernie and Cindy finally got their waffles in order and followed in second place. And even though Marcus weighed down his team's raft quite a bit, they got their clue before Jeremy and Sandy finished their challenge.
Bill and Cathi? Seeing how much Jeremy was struggling with the waffles, they decided to go for the raft challenge instead but, unfortunately, they were still quite a bit behind the pack. You've got to love them though, still having fun after all these years, as they got onto their homemade raft, Bill shouted to a man on the shore that he and Cathi were on their first date!
At the next location, teams had to help release homing pigeons (apparently a big thing in Belgium) and then follow those pigeons to an address given to them by the pigeon trainer. "Helping" was nothing more than standing there while the pigeons were released. Good thing for Cindy, who didn't want to touch the birds because they're "gross."
The snowboarders and Jeremy and Sandy had no problems finding their pigeon's address, but Ernie and Cindy, and Amani and Marcus somehow got off track. Attached to the pigeon's leg was a picture of the Pit Stop, the Atomium, a huge replica of the atomic structure of iron in Brussels.
Arriving first at the Pit Stop and back on top, Andy and Tommy. And what did they win for their first-place finish? Customized Ford Mustangs for each of them! Jeremy and Sandy arrived second, followed by Ernie and a disappointed Cindy, and Amani and Marcus.
Bill and Cathi? As night fell, viewers did not see the grandparents perform the pigeon challenge, as they must have been told they were in last place. Though they were eliminated, Bill and Cathi were in good spirits, happy that they had the chance to run the Race together as best friends and happy to show viewers that older Americans can be competitive. Competitive they were. It's a shame to see them go.
I will be out of town next weekend until late Monday night so will have a shorter recap later in the week. We're getting close to the finale, Race fans!
(The photo of Bill and Cathi is by Sonja Flemming by CBS.)