postheadericon McCoys go from last to third in one leg of ‘Amazing Race’

Halfway through Sunday’s second episode of the CBS-TV reality series “The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business,” Jet McCoy made quite an understated comment.

Jet and Cord McCoy

Jet and Cord McCoy (PHOTO BY Monty Brinton/CBS ©2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

“Cord, this is a milestone,” said McCoy, who is racing around the world for $1 million with his brother. “We’re not in last place. Woohoo.”

Many fans, especially those who have fallen for the cowboys on the series, had been biting their nails. The Season 18 episodes feature some of the most popular tandems to have ever been part of the race, and that includes the rodeo champion brothers from southeastern Oklahoma.

But the McCoys had fans holding their collective breaths through the opening episode, which continued into Sunday night’s race across Australia. The brothers finally finished the first leg of the race, although the other 10 teams were shown doing so the week before.

“Jet and Cord, I’m sorry to tell you you’re the last to arrive,” host Phil Keoghan told the brothers when they arrived at the first “pit stop” of this season.

“We know,” Cord said.

“I want you to go redeem yourselves,” Keoghan said. “The race is still going, man. Here’s your next clue.”

The brothers took off on their next venture. Looking exhausted, they walked the streets of Sydney searching out their final clue. With darkness upon them, they finally met the challenge, though hours behind the other teams. But in doing so, they got on the second of two charter flights to the Australian outback, so they were already within 30 minutes of the race leaders.

That was a “long day today, but in this one instance, we are very glad there’s other teams on this flight,” Cord said.

“We’re just glad to still be in the race,” Jet responded.

The flights landed in Broken Hill, an isolated mining town in the far west of the outback New South Wales. The teams went to the Living Desert, where they took part in their first detour, choosing between two aboriginal customs dealing with the spirit world and the natural world. All the teams chose the spirit world, where they had to build a mosaic and dance to raise the spirits. The engaged couple, Amanda Blackledge and Kris Klicka, had to do both challenges as part of the “U-turn,” a punishment for coming in last in the opening challenge of the season.

“Everybody else was doing it,” Jet said. “We might as well, too.”

The brothers left the Living Desert in seventh place, having moved up four spots in the first 30 minutes of the hour-long show. They made their way to the Central Football Club, where each contestant donned a kangaroo outfit and had to find the answer to the puzzle involving the periodic table.

“What is Hg and Bi?” Jet asked his brother.

“I don’t know, Jet,” Cord said. “You watch way more Discovery Channel than I do.”

Their clue took them to the intersection of Mercury and Bismuth streets in Broken Hill, where they found their final clue of the leg and were directed to the second episode’s “pit stop.” While still decked out in their kangaroo outfits, the teams piled back in their vehicles and went to an abandoned mine.

Best friends Zev Glassenberg and Justin Kanew won the leg.

But there was a pretty good race to finish out the competition. While some teams struggled to take off their anti-gravity jumping boots, the McCoys took off.

“We passed like three teams,” Jet said as the brothers zoomed around parked vehicles.

Once at the mine, the McCoys sprinted past sisters LaKisha and Jennifer Hoffman and finished the leg third.

Worst to third made for a pretty good episode for the brothers, but they’ve been in a similar position before. During the 16th season that aired last spring, the brothers finished last in the seventh episode of the race, which worked out to be a non-elimination leg. The McCoys then won the eighth leg of the race, becoming the first team in the history of the reality series to go from worst to first in a single leg.

The engaged couple of Blackledge and Klicka weren’t so fortunate, though. They were the 11th team at the “pit stop” and were eliminated.

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