Two years ago, I traveled with a friend a treacherous 35 miles to audition for The Amazing Race. We knew we had it. We didn’t care that the odds were greater of being struck by lightning than getting on the show. How could they not want us? I mean, we are two successful businesswomen who put the “S” in sassy and social media and loved the show… so we knew we were a shoe-in.
Not only did we not get on the show, we didn’t even get a “Dear Jane” email, tweet or smoke message. We were dumped like a prom corsage by the football bleachers.
But I still watch, and when they roll out the latest teams each season, I still shake my head that I am not standing on my spot ready to race to victory.
Season 26 is getting ready to end on CBS tonight as the final four teams jet off to Dallas for their last chance at one million dollars. I had the chance to choose one team to interview and just knew that it had to be Rochelle and Mike. I conjured up nine questions that I and all their fans were dying to know.
SheKnows: You are the only team left that came from the couples group and there are three of the Blind Dates left. Do you think them not having a history together turned out to be an advantage?
Rochelle Nevedal: I think that there were advantages to either. For example, we knew our strengths and weaknesses going into the race; however, the blind dating teams didn’t have previous baggage. Also I felt that an advantage the blind dating teams had was they got to sleep in separate rooms during pit stops, so they had time away from each other where they could clear their heads. Whereas, Mike and I, although I love him to death, were stuck within 20 feet at times locked in a hotel room for the entire month we were gone.
Mike Dombrowski: In the beginning, I thought the couples would have a huge advantage just on the awkwardness of meeting someone on a “blind date” and minutes later being thrust into a worldwide race for one million dollars with them. However, it sure did turn out the opposite, as they almost started out in a “honeymoon phase” showing each other their best side of themselves, wanting to make the best first impressions they could on each other, whereas the pre-existing couples had already been there and done that.
SK: It looked like the team from The Amazing Race was really pushing for some blind date love connections. How was that perceived behind the scenes?
RN: I don’t really think they thought it out too well because going on The Amazing Race is one of the most stressful and least romantic things anyone could ever do, especially on a blind date. I heard a lot of joking behind the scenes of how they felt, like they were given the complete opposite of what they asked for, which luckily makes for great TV.
MD: It seemed like in the first few legs, Phil would always be asking the blind daters if they had a connection, and the answer leg to leg always ended up being a “just as friends” connection. As you can tell, by the final few legs Phil seemed to give up on them having any romantic connection… except that kiss between Jeff and Jackie in Monaco!
SK: What was your favorite and least favorite stop on the race?
RN: My favorite stop was Monaco, Namibia, Peru, Japan… I can’t really pick a favorite because each place was so unique and amazing in their own ways. However, if I had to pick a least favorite it would have to be Bangkok, Thailand because we had a really rough day there, and the language barrier was the most difficult of all the places we’d been to. I would love to go back without the stress of the race, though, because it was a really exciting city, and they have amazing pad Thai there, too!
MD: My favorite was, hands down, Tokyo, Japan. It’s been a place I wanted to visit my entire life, and even in all the pre-race interviews, I named it as my number one place to visit. So when Phil announced it on the starting line, I was super pumped. Even after spending hours in a park doing a dance routine, I wouldn’t trade my experience in Tokyo for anything. My least favorite place was anywhere I had to drive a stick shift, so Munich, Monaco and Namibia. Although they are amazing places, I didn’t really get to enjoy them much because of the stress of driving into the unknown.
SK: Which challenge were you most afraid to do, or thought you could never do and what did it mean to you to beat that fear?
RN: I think the most terrifying challenge was stacking the beer crates because of my fear of heights. It definitely felt good when I stacked the last crate on top, and it gave me a boost of confidence knowing that I was able to accomplish something I didn’t see myself ever doing.
MD: Actually, mine was the puzzle box in Nagano, ha ha. Not because it was dangerous or risky, but because it was our first Road Block, and I was doing it all by myself… and I’m horrible at puzzles. My fear came in the form of, if I took too long on that challenge, it could have been my fault that we were eliminated in the second leg. Luckily, I figured it out in a good amount of time and the burden was lifted off my shoulders.
SK: I auditioned for The Amazing Race two years ago, and in the time that I had to wait to find out that I didn’t make it, I thought about how I was going to basically check out of life for four weeks. Were you concerned about that and what do you think life is going to be like when you do go back?
RN: My biggest concern was being away from my son for an entire month. I guess the hardest part was not even having a phone conversation with him to make sure everything was going OK. When we got back, we both definitely went through a bit of post-racer depression. Life isn’t as fun when you don’t get to rip open a clue every morning that tells you where in the world you are going to fly today.
MD: My only concern was if my cat was going to be OK, ha ha. I made sure all my bills and everything were taken care of before we left, so I really didn’t have any worries. I knew Rochelle was going to miss her little boy more than anything and would constantly be worrying if he was OK, and I didn’t want to have any worries on my end, because they would have been petty in comparison to hers.
SK: Would you audition for another reality show?
RN: I never, ever imagined myself being on a reality show, so even today it’s pretty surreal. I am pretty shy and have never really liked being in the spotlight. However, this experience has been such a positive thing. Not only has it brought me out of my shell, it has given me experiences and memories that I will carry with me forever. I would do the race again in a heartbeat! Other shows, I’m not so sure, but you never know!
MD: The casting directors actually saw my audition video for Big Brother, and that’s how I was approached about Rochelle and I doing The Amazing Race. So, yeah, I could see myself trying out for Big Brother again in the future, or you never know, Survivor might want Rochelle and I on a season just to split us up and see how we fare separated, ha ha. The Amazing Race was such an awesome experience, I would actually like to see how other reality shows compare behind the scenes.
SK: What’s it really like having cameras on you 24/7? Are they there even when you go to the bathroom? Change clothes? And what about fooling around, if you weren’t too exhausted from all that racing!
RN: At first it’s pretty weird, but it’s definitely something you get used to very fast! You are miked up at all times, even when you go to the bathroom. Your crew must go with you everywhere you go, even if it’s just to walk down the airport hall to grab a bite to eat.
SK: How does one even begin to pack for a trip like this? Did you really have only the bags we saw or did you have a secret bag stashed somewhere?
RN: Yeah, packing was a task! You learn to live minimally, though. Before we went on the trip, I piled everything I wanted to bring on the living room floor. Come to find out only about a quarter of that would fit in my bag. I am the worst packer and always feel like I need to bring my whole wardrobe with me, even if it’s for a weekend trip. Once I got it down to one bag, it was still way too much. I ended up throwing out half of the stuff I brought so I could lighten up my bag to be able to run faster. By the end of it, I was down to about three shirts and two pairs of pants.
MD: I was really concerned with the “extra” things we need to bring, like a compass, notebook, etc. Clothes didn’t really matter to me, as long as I had my trusty watermelon hat. But the bags you see on TV and the fanny packs are all we get, so you do have to pack very smart. Like Rochelle said, you’re throwing away clothes nearly every airport you’re in.
SK: If you can do The Amazing Race, you can do anything now, right? What’s next on your list when you get home and catch up on your sleep? How will anything compare to this?
RN: Since Mike and I have settled down after the race, things are pretty much back to normal. Although we aren’t racing to a new country every day, I have been just enjoying spending time with my son and Mike.
Mike: When we first got back home, as Rochelle said earlier, you get a post-race depression. You go from racing around the world to back to a normal schedule within a few days, and it takes some time getting used to. As far as doing anything goes, I am a promoter of pro-wrestling events, and this gave me an entire new outlook as a promoter. Overall, I think after this entire season is over, I’m going to re-watch it all the time. It’s all so surreal, from actually doing it, to watching yourself do it to having random strangers come up and ask about it. I honestly don’t think there is anything to compare to it; it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime thing that very few people will be able to live. From the traveling, to the bonding experience to making friends that you will have for the rest of your life, it truly is an amazing experience.
Who are you pulling for to take home the $1,000,000 prize?
More reality TV interviews
Party Down South finale: Could there be a wedding in the works?
Prancing Elites Project star squashes common LGBTQ misconceptions (EXCLUSIVE)
LMFAO’s Redfoo reveals his new DWTS BFF, and our one hint is: ThighMaster