The final three teams in the CBS television show “The Amazing Race: All-Star Edition” include Salt Lake father-son team Dave and Connor O’Leary, who won the 11th leg of the race during Sunday’s episode.
Reading clues carefully and driving from place to place in England proved to be key for the duo in this leg of the race.
This season of “The Amazing Race” includes returning teams racing around the world for $1 million by following clues in yellow and red envelopes, navigating transportation and completing challenges called Road Blocks and Detours along the way to get the next clues.
Teams started the leg in Seville, Spain, and because the O’Learys, who are both cancer survivors, won the 10th leg of the race that took teams to and through Seville, Spain, they were the first to open their clue and leave Plaza de Espana.
Their clue told them to make their way to Liverpool, England, first by train to Madrid, then by plane to London and then to drive one of the Ford Focus cars to Liverpool where they had to find Anfield Stadium, home to the soccer team Liverpool FC.
Dave O’Leary, 59, a real estate investor, and his son, 22-year-old Connor O’Leary, who is a professional cyclist and a University of Utah student, had about a half-hour lead on the other teams, and all teams were on the same train and flight into England.
“It’s unbelievable to be in the top four,” said Dave O’Leary, who is a prostate cancer survivor. The O'Learys are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Holladay 25th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake. “I feel like I’m running with a bunch of young bulls.”
Two of the remaining four teams, country singers Caroline Cutbirth, 30, and Jennifer Wayne, 31, and the Afghanimals, cousins Leo Temory, 27, and Jamal Zadran, 26, made the final four when they competed previously, on Season 22 and Season 23, respectively, and both had been eliminated before making the final three.
Temory and Zadran were the first to make it to Anfield Stadium where teams had to get four penalty shots past professional goalies.
Zadran injured his knee during a challenge in the last leg. He had a brace on it and was able to run, but it bothered him as he kicked his shots.
“We’re so excited. We both love soccer. Soccer is one of the biggest sports in Afghanistan,” Temory said. “Liverpool is one of the greatest teams they have, and knowing we are going onto the actual field and score some goals on a goalie — like, wow, another dream come true.”
Cutbirth and Wayne were second to arrive and were followed by newlyweds Brendon Villegas, 33, and Rachel Reilly, 30, nicknamed the Brenchels. The O’Learys were the last to arrive — just as the Brenchels were leaving.
“Being the last ones to the stadium did not invoke a lot of confidence on our part,” Dave O’Leary said. “They could have my grandkids guarding the goal and I couldn’t hit it.”
Both struggled with the challenge.
“How uncoordinated could I be?” asked Connor O’Leary. And his dad got in two shots before he did: “It humbled me to have my dad beat me.”
From there, teams went to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, known as the stream in the sky, in Wales, and at the Road Block challenge, one of the team members had to work with an instructor to learn and memorize a verse of Welsh poetry during the 15-minute ride on the aqueduct and then recite it to a linguist.
Cutbirth and Wayne were first to arrive, followed by Villegas and Reilly. The O’Learys pulled up at about the same time as Temory and Zadran. Connor O’Leary did the challenge.
It took reciting it at least twice — in the chilly rain and wind — before any of the competitors got the next clue. Connor O’Leary was just a little bit off each time, and both he and Zadran took four times to get it.
From there, teams had to find Boleworth Estate in Cheshire, where they had a Detour. Teams dressed in period costume and could either “Shoot It,” where they had to shoot 16 clay pigeons with a 12-gauge shotgun, or “Boot It,” where they had to pick a pair of rubber Wellington boots, or Wellies, that were either size 9 or size 11, fill them with water and throw them along a course.
The Brenchels were first to arrive and chose “Boot It” because they were concerned with the wind.
“It was like we were in ‘Downton Abbey’ playing some games with the Downton Abbeyers,” Reilly said. “It was really cool.”
Then they got to the finish line and found out they had picked a pair of size 10 boots, when they needed to pick a size 9 or 11, and had to redo the entire course.
It was misreading the clue in their previous season that put them out of the running for the $1 million prize.
Cutbirth and Wayne were second to arrive and picked “Shoot It,” as did the O’Learys, who arrived next. The Afghanimals struggled to find the estate and had difficulty finding someone who knew where it was.
“Taking out all that stress on those clay pigeons was absolutely exactly what we needed,” said Connor O’Leary, who is an Eagle Scout and earned the shooting merit badge.
Cutbirth and Wayne were first to the leave with the O’Learys not far behind as their next clue told them to go to Peckforton Castle where the Pit Stop and host Phil Keoghan was waiting.
The Brenchels had to repeat the challenge — this time with the right-sized boots — and that was the break the Afghanimals were hoping would help them. The Afghanimals chose to “Shoot It.”
The O’Learys were surprised when Keoghan told them they were in first place and had made it to the final three. They won a seven-night trip for two to Fiji from Travelocity.
“You had to bow out of your last race. This time, you have the chance to race into the finish line for $1 million,” Keoghan said.
In their previous run on “The Amazing Race” in Season 22, Dave O’Leary had detached his Achilles and another tendon running to the mat during the second leg, and they ultimately withdrew during the fifth leg of the race. Dave had to have surgery and physical therapy.
“After our first season, when I ruptured my Achilles, we never thought we would see (compete on) ‘The Amazing Race’ again,” Dave O’Leary said. “I feel grateful to be in a position to hopefully win ‘The Amazing Race,’ be the first parent-child team to do so and the oldest person to do so.”
Cutbirth and Wayne were second. The Brenchels — Villegas and Reilly — were third. The Afghanimals were last to the mat and were eliminated.
“Sorry to see our good firiends (sic) @LeoTemory and @JamalZadran leave @AmazingRace_CBS #raceallstars. Two great and really funny guys,” Dave O’Leary tweeted. He also tweeted a photo of their family with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome as they watched Sunday’s episode.
Previews for next Sunday’s finale show teams headed to Las Vegas with their challenges including working with magician David Copperfield on a disappearing act and changing lights out on a hotel’s sign.
“The Amazing Race” airs Sunday evenings on CBS.
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