Premiering just three weeks after the Season 6 finale, the seventh season of the Race marked the only time in the show's history that they aired three seasons within a single year. Building off the momentum of increased ratings, the show finally living up to the massive critical praise heaped upon it, garnering the show's highest ratings. A portion of this increased popularity was due to the Stunt Casting
of Survivor Super Couple
Rob & Amber, who were at the height of their popularity fresh off of winning Survivor All-Stars
. With them, they brought a lot of Survivor
fans who were exposed to the show for the first time, many of whom stuck with the Race afterwards. Along with Rob & Amber, the season featured a number of large, outgoing characters, who produced a whole slew of memorable moments. There were many close finishes, including a whopping three
footraces to avoid elimination, with two of them coming in the first two legs. To top it all of, the season had an ending so unbelievable, you might just believe it was scripted that waynote
. All in all a great season, it would mark the last true high point of the show's early seasons.
Uchenna Agu & Joyce Agu
Married couple whose relationship was rocky due to lost jobs and not being able to conceive children. They were relegated to the background for most of the season before finally emerging when Joyce shaved her head to win the Fast Forward in leg 8. After making their way into the Final 3, they looked like they were going to win the penultimate leg in Jamaica, only to suffer a flat tire and drop to last place, and were forced to run the final leg with no money. After falling behind early, they would pull a miraculous comeback, begging their way onto flight after the doors had already been closed to keep from falling behind Rob & Amber, and then being forced to beg for money at the Finish Line to pay their taxi. Described by Phil prior to them reappearing on All-Stars
as "the most popular team to win the Race so far" (yes, even over B.J. & Tyler
), Uchenna & Joyce made quite a splash with so little airtime.
- Bald of Awesome: Uchenna the whole race, Joyce after leg 8.
- Bald Women: Joyce after shaving her head.
- Big Eater: Uchenna scarfed down the infamous four pounds of meat like it was just an everyday meal.
- Call Back: On their way to the Fast Forward, Joyce started fretting that it was a head shaving task, having seen it previously used on Season 5.
- Darkest Hour: In the penultimate leg, a flat tire pushed them from first to last, and they went into the final leg with no money or possessions, which caused them to fall way behind the other teams for the first half of the leg.
- Defeating the Undefeatable: Their victory over Rob & Amber was played this way. Save for Rob's "early flight" gaffe in leg 9, the couple had spent the entirety of Survivor All-Stars and Season 7 dominating the other contestants. It was the first real defeat Rob had suffered since Survivor Marquesas.
- Divorce Is Temporary: Though they never divorced, Uchenna talked about how they were seriously considering separating from each other before coming on the Race. They are the rare instance of a couple whose rocky relationship was actually improved by coming on the show, albeit only temporarily (See Happily Ever After).
- Expy: Of that amicable, married African-American couple who won Season 5, Chip & Kim. They both even had the same storyline, with Rob & Amber in the place of Colin & Christie.
- Gentle Giant: Uchenna, who was the biggest contestant, and one of the nicest.
- The Good Guys Always Win: Their victory over Rob & Amber is the most Hollywood-style ending in the show's history, almost to the point of unbelievability.
- Good Is Not Dumb: As Rob found out when his "early flight" joke backfired. He thought Uchenna & Joyce were clueless, and lost without Lynn & Alex there to help them, but they managed to find a flight two hours faster than what the other teams had.
- Happily Ever After: Subverted. Though their speech and confessionals at the Finish Line gave them a Happily Ever After ending, when they came back for All-Stars, we learned that not only did the in vitro fertilization they had been looking forward to fail, nor had they gone through with adopting a kid, but their relationship had become rocky again as a result. (They eventually did end up getting divorced.)
- History Repeats: A black married couple beats the egotistical villain after a miraculous turn of events at the final airport. This is just one of the many comparisons between Uchenna & Joyce and Chip & Kim.
- In the DVD Commentaries, they say that this was their third time visiting Jamaica, and on both of their previous visits they also got a flat tire.
- Honor Before Reason: In London, Uchenna made an effort to help Gretchen & Meredith move their boats at the Detour despite them both racing to avoid last.
- Important Haircut: Joyce shaving her head for the Fast Forward in leg 8, which was the point at which Uchenna & Joyce stepped out of the background and became serious contenders.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Gretchen & Meredith.
- Lightning Bruiser: Uchenna was not only the biggest and strongest racer, but, as Phil would say multiple times on All-Stars, he was once the fifth fastest man in the world. He was the most acrobatic too, apparently, as while begging for money, he would do back flips, and in Botswana he zoomed through the head balancing Detour at a walking pace while everyone else was either inching along or stumbling at the beginning. In the DVD commentaries, Lynn & Alex discussed how they picked Uchenna to win the Race after seeing how good he was at everything, not that we got to see everything they did, as Uchenna & Joyce were kept in the background a lot early on, and subsequently played as underdogs later.
- The Load: Rob & Amber and Rob & Kelly accused them of being information leaches while sitting around the Dubai airport, waiting for their flight. Uchenna & Joyce were busy getting a two-hour lead on them.
- Manipulative Editing: They actually won the finale by 45 minutes, not the few minutes it looked like in the episode.
- Miracle Rally: Their comeback in the finale, which they did despite not having any money to start the leg, having to beg their way onto a closed flight, then beg for money to pay their cab at the Finish Line.
- No Sense of Direction: They got lost several times in South Africa, only finishing in front of Meredith & Gretchen on the leg where Gretchen fell and split her head open.
- Out of Focus: They didn't get any major airtime until the ninth episode, when Joyce shaved her head to win the Fast Forward.
- Read The Freaking Clue: Uchenna did not complete the driving Roadblock in leg 7 correctly, not taking a post he was supposed to, when Joyce read him the clue wrong while he was driving, and therefore was sent back to finish it after reaching the Pit Stop. Luckily, it didn't cost them any spots.
- Tears of Joy: At the Finish Line. It started with them and spread to the other teams during their speech.
- Underdogs Never Lose
"Boston" Rob Mariano & Amber Brkich (Romber)
Rob: I didn't think I could do it, but I found a way to plot and scheme in The Amazing Race.
Super Couple who went through connections to get a spot on the Race. Though their presence upset some fans, there is no denying the effect they had on the show. Not only did they bring fans over from Survivor
, but they also helped compile the modern Metagame
by studying the tactics of former teams and copying the ones they found most effective. They dominated the season, using techniques and tactics that upset the other teams and the fans, while making some some truly entertaining television in the process.
They would jump out to a huge lead in the finale, and even though equalizers would negate this lead, they still managed to talk their way onto the first flight to Miami. Though the season looked over and their win assured, Uchenna & Joyce also talked their way onto the flight, and they fell behind when they didn't think to speak Spanish in Little Havana, and they took forever to find the "King of the Havanas". After creating such a huge splash, they would naturally be invited back for All-Stars
Ronald "Ron" Young, Jr. & Kelly McCorkle
Kelly: Your patterns in life show that you don't make commitments.
Ron: You're right, I was only committed to the military.
Kelly: And you got out of that one.
Ron: How'd I get out of that one?
Kelly: By being a POW, you left your commitment early.
Former POW and Miss South Carolina 2002 who met when he escorted her for an event. Good racers in their own right, they teamed up with Rob & Amber, and were unfortunately seen as Rob's lackeys from that point out, never able to step out of his shadow. Their relationship dissolved over the course of the season, culminating with them all but breaking up at the London Heathrow Airport in the penultimate leg. They would make it to the Final 3, where they missed the turn to the San Juan airport, putting them on a later flight to Miami than the other two teams, guaranteeing them a 3rd place finish.
- Commitment Issues: A complaint Kelly had against Ron, which led to her infamous quote above.
- Failed a Spot Check: Ron didn't see the signs leading them to the San Juan airport in the finale, effectively costing them the Race.
- Long Distance Relationship: Their status prior to the season.
- The Masochism Tango: They fought a lot, and their relationship fell apart over the course of the season. Phil said on the DVD that Kelly got probably one of the most unfair portrayals ever, and that she was just a young woman upset at having her relationship fall apart on national television.
- Masochist's Meal: Ron said the four pounds of meat Roadblock was the worst eating experience of his life, even worse that when he was in an Iraqi prison.
- Out of Focus: Like Brandon & Nicole before them, they were shoved into the background in favor of the Uchenna & Joyce vs. Rob & Amber storyline late in the season.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: With their alliance with Rob & Amber and way the season ended, the fact that they were pretty good racers was forgotten.
- Shirtless Scene: Ron during the corn pounding Detour in leg 6.
- That Came Out Wrong: In leg 9, Kelly essentially accused Rob of deliberately getting captured by the enemy so he wouldn't have to complete his commitment to the Army. It's safe to say she didn't actually intend that meaning.
- Universal Driver's License: Ron said that he could have completed the Double Decker Bus Roadblock in leg 10 faster than Kelly because he used to fly helicopters in the Army. When Kelly mocked him for saying he could drive anything, he said he would turn around and go back to the Detour and do the course to show her.
- Women Drivers: Mentioned during the Double Decker Bus Roadblock (leading to the Universal Driver's License moment above). It was one of several sexist comments he made near the end of the season.
Meredith Smith & Gretchen Smith
Elderly married couple, who are collectively the oldest team to compete on the Racenote
. They cruised along at the back of the pack for most of the race, proving to be surprisingly resilient despite both suffering severe injuries over the course of the season. Despite never looking like a real threat, they managed to make it to the final four, where Meredith was beaten on the Double Decker Bus Roadblock by Joyce, causing them to finish 4th.
Lynn Warren & Alex Ali
Boyfriends, they were the most vocal team of the anti-"Rob & Amber" sentiment that permeated the season. Though they were mostly a middle of the pack team, finishing above 4th only once, the other teams, including Rob, saw them as a big threat. They were going strong in leg 8, and should have survived the leg, but their cab driver took them to the wrong temple while looking for the Pit Stop, allowing Gretchen & Meredith to pass them, and resulting in their elimination in 5th place.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Lynn, to his cab driver in the first leg:
Lynn: Muy, muy, muy... What am I saying, "Very, very, very"?
- Call It Karma: They often said that karma would eventually catch up to Rob for his behavior.
- Camp Gay: The opening title has Alex in a purple cowboy shirt.
- Driving Stick: Alex, which only mattered when he chose to do the driving Roadblock in leg 7.
- False Protagonist: They took over the role of Rob & Amber's main opposition after Debbie & Bianca's elimination in leg 3.
- Honor Before Reason: They stopped to help Brian & Greg after they flipped their car in leg 6. Now, stopping when someone is lying by the side of the road, injured, is excusable, as some things are more important than a game, but they continued to stick around even when Brian & Greg were practicality pushing them back into their car to continue the race.
- Keet: Lynn.
- Loophole Abuse: They were the first team to think of putting on as many clothes as possible in case they got non-eliminated and hit with the mugging penalty. Though they were eliminated, this would become a handy strategy in Family Edition.
- Odd Friendship: With Brian & Greg.
- Stubborn Mule: They switched out of the llama Detour in leg 1 after their llamas refused to move and kept spitting on them.
Lynn: I swear to god we got the gay llama, it was very bitchy.
Brian Smith & Greg Smith
Brothers, they ran the Race well enough, even climbing to 2nd at one point, but they flipped their car in Botswana, injuring their cameraman and pushing themselves to the back of the pack. Even though they managed to survive the leg thanks to beating a disintegrating Ray & Deanna in a footrace to the Pit Stop, the next leg did not have an equalizer, and their ten minute deficit behind Gretchen & Meredith was apparently enough that they never saw another team after that, eliminating them in 6th place. Brian has since appeared on The Big Bang Theory
, and in several dozen commercials, some of which have aired during subsequent seasons of the Race.
- Down to the Last Play: They are the only team in Race history to win not one, but two footraces to avoid elimination, beating Megan & Heidi in leg 2 and Ray & Deanna in leg 6.
- Foregone Conclusion: Their final leg started with them only 10 minutes behind Gretchen & Meredith, but they had such trouble navigating themselves through Botswana that they never saw another team.
- Miracle Rally: They looked done for after their jeep overturned and left them stranded and their cameraman injured, but Ray & Deana spent so long on the corn pounding Detour that they were still there when the brothers finally arrived. Brian & Greg wisely went with the Detour choice Ray & Deana weren't bogged down in, filling ostrich eggs with water, completed it quickly enough to leave right on Ray & Deana's tail, and beat them in a footrace to the mat.
- No Sense of Direction: They quoted the trope name in their final leg before proceeding to turn a 10 minute deficit to Gretchen & Meredith into a gap they could never make up.
- Odd Friendship: With Lynn & Alex.
- Read the Freaking Clue: They wasted a lot of time looking for a clue at the wrong water tower in their final leg, as they did not read that they had to drive through Maun before finding the clue.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Invoked when they ran into their final Pit Stop wearing bathing suits, knit caps, and scarves hoping that Phil would non-eliminate them so that they would have to run the rest of the race in their ridiculous getups.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Much of their airtime was spent with them goofing around.
- Shirtless Scene: They were eliminated in their swimming suits.
- Shoo Out the Clowns
- Sibling Team
- Token Romance: With Megan & Heidi, though it only lasted two legs.
- Who Is This Guy Again?: They're not twins, but they're still one of the hardest teams ever to tell apart.
Ray Hosteau & Deana Shane
Dating couple, they came in with high expectations for themselves, but spent most their time in the back of the pack. They would finally jump to 1st place when they won the Fast Forward in leg 5, but would ultimately get eliminated on the following leg when they fell apart at the corn pounding Detour (mostly because they couldn't get into a good rhythm), putting them into a position to lose a footrace to the long trailing Brian & Greg, finishing in 7th place.
- Call Back: Ray references Colin's famous line (in response to his inability to control an ox in Season 5) by telling Deana that the horse she is struggling on is not broken.
- Competition Freak: Ray came in expecting to win every single leg. Deana called him such in their introduction.
- Death by Irony: Ray spent a lot of time talking about how Gretchen & Meredith didn't belong on the Race, and how he wanted to "put them out of their misery." In their final leg, they would get passed by Gretchen & Meredith on the mostly strength based corn pounding Detour.
- Down to the Last Play: They lost a footrace to the Pit Stop to Brian & Greg and were eliminated.
- Driving Stick
- Genre Savvy: When flying to South Africa, Ray took the initiative to move them up to first class so they would be the first ones off the plane. Unlike Dan & Jordan, they did it in leg 5 instead of the final leg, meaning all they got themselves was a jump in getting to the Fast Forward.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It did not take much to set Ray off.
- The Masochism Tango: Especially apparent during the corn pounding Detour, when they could not get into a good rhythm with each other, resulting in the more in sync Gretchen & Meredith passing them.
- May-December Romance: Ray is 17 years older than Deana.
- Paper Tiger: Despite all of Ray's muscles and big words, they mostly spent their time at the back of the pack.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Ray came into the race expecting to win every leg, and when he was on the second flight during leg 4 (due to Deana quitting the four pounds of meat Roadblock in the previous leg), he constantly talked about how he didn't belong in the back of the pack, and Gretchen & Meredith were old and didn't belong in the same race as him.
- Sore Loser: Ray.
- Tempting Fate: Ray had a lot of opinions on why Gretchen & Meredith were not in the same league as him. Guess which team made it much further.
Susan Vaughn & Patrick Vaughn
Mother and her gay son. They teamed up with Debbie & Bianca early on, the girls' fluent Spanish allowing them to finish 2nd on the first leg. Patrick would later end up having to battle Debbie during the four pounds of meat Roadblock just to stay in the Race. Though he would win, they would only last one more leg, as their boat broke down during the leg 4 Detour, causing Patrick to give up, and they finished 8th.
- Camp Gay: Patrick
- Jerkass: Patrick. See Rage Quit.
- Rage Quit: Patrick was almost ready to do this during the meat Roadblock until Debbie & Bianca showed up, and after their boat breakdown in the next leg, he constantly insisted they should just give up against his mother's wishes to keep going. It led to one of the more unpleasant exit interviews where he chided his crying mother for being overly optimistic while insisting he was being realistic about their eventual elimination.
- Team Mom: Susan to Debbie & Bianca.
- Unknown Rival: To Rob & Amber, as Patrick planned on getting close to them then stabbing them in the back later, only Rob & Amber did not remember who they were upon reading their nasty letter during their final Roadblock in All-Stars.
Debbie Cloyed & Bianca Smith
Lifelong friends. They became early favorites when they used Bianca's fluent Spanish to win the first leg, becoming the first all-female team to win a leg without a Fast Forward since Mary & Peach in Season 2
. However, their Race would be cut short in the third leg when they drove two hours in the wrong direction, and were never able to quite make up the time lost, even with Debbie's magnificent performance at the meat Roadblock, and they finished in 9th. Post-race, Debbie wrote and published a novel, The Summer We Came To Life
, partially based on her experience on the Race.
- Action Girl: Both of them, and they were presented as Rob & Amber's biggest competition early on as a result.
- Big Eater: Debbie scarfed down that four pounds of meat, and was the only woman to complete it.
- False Protagonist: For the first three legs they were the only team to stand up to Rob & Amber, and it looked like they were building a rivalry that would last the entire season.
- Genre Savvy: At LAX, Bianca first pointed out that the later flight to leave is sometimes the first to land (true in this case), then, when none of the other teams bothered to ask which landed first, borrowed a cell phone to find out. At the end of the leg, they pulled out a map which allowed them to navigate their cab around the traffic jam that hindered the two teams in front of them.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Greg got a bit overexcited over the apparent "closeness" they exhibited at LAX during the premiere.
- Miracle Rally: They came close, but ultimately failed, in leg 3. They got lost early in the leg, drove two hours in the wrong direction, and then had to drive two more to get back on course. Still, when they got to the four pounds of meat Roadblock there were still four teams sitting there (three having already quit the challenge, while the fourth was contemplating it). Debbie scarfed down her four pounds of meat, yet they were ultimately eliminated by a matter of minutes.
- No Sense of Direction: Driving two hours the wrong way got them eliminated.
- Stubborn Mule: Debbie's inability to get her llama moving in the first leg Detour caused them to switch tasks and fall from 1st to 3rd (the other eight teams were an hour and a half behind them).
- That Liar Lies: They openly accused Rob of lying to them at the bus station in Peru, which Rob took offense to for some reason.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Self-Described in their introduction.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Debbie almost died in a white water rafting accident a few months before the race, so of course there was a rafting Detour.
- Worthy Opponent: The only compliment Rob gave out the entire season was to Debbie during the four pounds of meat Roadblock. He said that if anyone could pull that comeback, she could, because she was tough enough to stand up to him. In the next leg, Ray even said he was happy to see them go because they were so strong.
Megan Baker & Heidi Heidel
Friends and roommates, much of their time on screen was spent flirting with Brian & Greg. They fell behind early in the second leg, ultimately losing a footrace to the Pit Stop to Brian & Greg, finishing 10th.
Ryan Phillips & Chuck Horton
Good Old Boys and lifelong friends from South Carolina, they are one of the most popular first outs. When doing the Rope a Llama Detour in the first leg, they made the decision to only guide one llama at a time, and struggled with their second one, dropping them into a three-way tie for last place. They subsequently lost a footrace to Ron & Kelly, eliminating them in 11th place.
- Big Fun: They were big guys, and though they were only around a short time, they brought a lot of laughs.
- Down to the Last Play: They lost a footrace to Ron & Kelly.
- Good Ol' Boy: They were from rural South Carolina, though they had a lot of Hidden Depths.
- Hidden Depths: Chuck's Portuguese for one, but apparently they were the smartest team judging by the pre-Race tests, and the early pick to win for a lot of the production crew.
- Leitmotif: They had a banjo theme.
- Manly Tears: Ryan, upon their elimination.
- Self-Deprecation: During the zip-line task, Ryan said that they were going to be the first people to load test the rig.