Cord McCoy slid across the tile-lined park in Guangzhou, China, for a kick-save in a fascinating game of feather ball. That move kept The Cowboys in the chase for the $1 million first-place prize during Season 24 of “The Amazing Race.”
In Sunday night’s episode of the CBS-TV reality series, the brothers from southeastern Oklahoma began the second leg of the race around the world in first place, then quickly slipped to last early in the hour-long show when they opted to try to run for the first challenge instead of taking another form of transportation.
“I’d hate to catch a cab if we’re two blocks away,” Jet McCoy said as the brothers jogged through the city.
They weren’t. In fact, locals tried to explain that it was a further distance, but the brothers didn’t understand. By the time they jumped into a taxi in the city with a population of 14 million, the McCoys had fallen to the bottom of the pack.
This “wasn’t the best start we’ve ever had,” Cord said.
“No,” Jet said. “We kind of slow-started it.”
As they were passed by the country singers, Jennifer Wayne and Caroline Cutbirth, the McCoys realized their status.
“That was the last team that left the mat this morning,” Jet said, referring to the start of the leg. “And that’s the way this race works. You go from first to last in a hurry.”
The father-son tandem of Dave and Connor O’Leary were the first team to the Road Block, at a district in Guangzhou that is known as the world capital for toy-making. One person from each team had to assemble a motorized toy car, and Dave O’Leary quickly went to the work needed.
By the time The Cowboys arrived, most teams were deep into their tasks. Jet jumped in the toy-manufacturing and assembled the car, finishing in sixth place. While Cutbirth complained about putting the pieces together, her partner, Wayne, kept a full-court press on Cord, pleading with the youngest cowboy for the extra Express Pass – the brothers won the opening leg and earned two Express passes; one was for themselves, and the other was to be given to another team prior to the halfway point of the race.
The pressure worked for the singers, and Cutbirth was relieved of her assembly duties.
“They was in panic mode, and we gave it to them, and they needed it,” Jet said of passing along the extra Express Pass, which allows a team to skip a challenge and move ahead in the race. “That’s perfect.
“That puts us as the only team that has an Express Pass. The other one has already been burned on Leg 2. That’s huge right there.”
Mark Jackson (with Mallory Ervin) was the first to complete the assembly, but his backpack was left near the site as he and Ervin left for their next stop, the Guangzhou Children’s Cultural Center, where the teams were to deliver the cars. Once Jackson/Ervin dropped off their vehicle to the cultural center, they retraced steps to the backpack.
Meanwhile, the teams faced their first Detour: either taking part in an ancient Chinese massage or playing feather ball, which is the country’s version of hacky sack. All the race teams chose feather ball, and the teams had to have 10 passes in a row without the shuttlecock falling to the ground. It proved to be a difficult task, but Cord made the save, and the cowboys moved toward the finish at Shamian Island.
The husband-wife team of Brendon Villegas and Rachel Reilly won the leg and earned $2,500 apiece. They were followed by, in successive order, the mother-son team of Margie O’Donnell/Luke Williams, the country singers Wayne/Cutbirth, the O’Learys, Globetrotters Herbert “Flight Time” Lang and Nate “Big Easy” Lofton and the McCoys.
They all seemed to have finished one right after the other, based on the show’s editing.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had so many teams on the mat at one time,” host Phil Keoghan said.
The McCoys finished sixth and remain in the race for $1 million. The lost backpack came back to haunt Jackson and Ervin, who finished in 10th place and were eliminated from the series.