There can be an upside to being eliminated from “The Amazing Race.” For engaged couple Amanda Blackledge and Kris Klicka, that means having more time to tend to the unfinished business of their upcoming nuptials. The duo, who were only engaged weeks before their return to this year’s all-star season, couldn’t focus on marriage when they had a “Race” to prepare for. But after getting the boot in Australia Sunday night, they’re throwing all their energy into planning for the big day. And although having an extra million bucks would’ve helped with wedding costs, they have no regrets about being sent packing. On Monday, Amanda and Kris called from their home Pismo Beach, Calif. to discuss how they’ve grown as a couple, how it felt to be a ‘roo for a day, and when they intend to wed.
On where they watched their elimination:
Amanda: We were actually supposed to watch it with some family, but there was a crazy storm here and it was snowing, so we couldn’t get away.
Kris: Which I think is for the better. We knew we were going out on this one, so we didn’t really want to be around a bunch of people when it all went down. We were definitely on the phone with our parents talking about everything, though.
Amanda: It was hard to watch the whole thing knowing how it ends. It was interesting watching it and see the other teams. For example, we didn’t know Ron and Christina took quite as long as they did at the Mosaic. The other hard thing to watch was when Margie dropped part of her costume. The clue actually said that you had to check into the Pit Stop with all the pieces of the costume. So, we knew we were in last place going into the Pit Stop, but our hope was maybe somebody got lost or dropped some part of their costume. Watching Mel hand it to her was hard to watch, especially since Luke just told her to keep going. If Mel hadn’t done that, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here having this interview right now.
On the embarrassment of wearing kangaroo costumes:
Kris: We looked liked a couple of backwoods Okies with all this red clay in our teeth and this ridiculous kangaroo outfit on.
Amanda: When we first saw it [the costume], it was kind of intimidating. Having never tried them before, they were kind of funny because you couldn’t actually stand still. You always had to keep moving or you would just fall over.
On the format changes this season, including the non-Pit Stop in the premiere:
Kris: We’d been running non-stop. One thing they didn’t show a lot of, is that we were traveling just to get to Australia alone. It was like a nineteen-hour flight. And you’re not sleeping since you have adrenaline pumping through you and you don’t know what lies ahead. It’d been a couple of days since we’d had any shuteye.
Amanda: And between the Ocean World aquarium and where we had to do the sailing, and Shelly Beach, it had to have been miles and miles that we ran. Then when we were heading to the Pit Stop we actually saw Gary and Mallory running, and we said, “Oh, is Phil not over there?” And they said, “No, he is, it’s a continuation leg.” So we knew when we stepped on the mat that we had to keep going. We were exhausted. I almost actually got sick from running around so much.
On the lessons learned the first time around:
Amanda: The number one thing we changed, as far as our strategy, was that we weren’t going to trust anybody. We were lied to about the stupidest things last time. So many people were giving me bs all the time. And if we found somebody who gave us information and we had time to double check it, then we were going to double check it. We did more of our own research, like at the airport and stuff.
On why so many teams are helping each other this season:
Kris: Obviously there were a lot of people from our season. We’ve all gone to parties and watched episodes together, so we do have a relationship already. I guess that’s part of the game, too. You get to certain points and you know you’re struggling a little bit, if you know someone next to you who you know is going to help you out, then by all means why not ask them?
Amanda: I also think too that it’s on a case by case basis. For example, when I helped Keisha after the scuba diving, I started seeing other teams come out and complete the task with their compass. I looked at Keisha and thought, If her and I can get it and get out of here before the other teams start coming and asking us for the answers, then better for us. I think people help each other depending on the situation.
Kris: One thing that does kind of annoy me is The Redheads, they don’t seem to do anything on their own. They’re always asking Margie and Luke for help. That kind of pissed me off a little bit, but whatever.
On why they decided to return:
Kris: We didn’t have to think about it at all. They asked us and we were just like, “Abso-freaking-lutely.” Just the last time when we got U-Turned and we always had it in the back of our heads, What would have happened if we didn’t get U-Turned? Would we have won the damn thing or would we have gotten eliminated in the next couple of legs? So when they called us, we were ecstatic about it.
Amanda: No matter how grueling it is and out of your comfort zone you are, it’s still incredible. The places you get to go and the things you get to experience, all on somebody else’s dime. We would definitely do it over and over and over again.
Kris: If we get a call tomorrow asking us to come back we’d say yes again, too.
On how they grew as a couple from this experience:
Kris: For her and I, in both experiences, we just learned how to work together as a team and figure out how to stay cool and collected and respect one another, and go from there. Really it made us stronger in our relationship. Most couples don’t get to go through this together. I think if they did they’d figure out a lot more about their partner.
Amanda: Before the first season, we’d never really worked together as a team in anything. We were both competitive before that but not together. It definitely made us stronger and we realized how well we worked together.
On adjusting to normal life after the “Race”:
Kris: What’s next, is the kind of thing. Am I going to Siberia tomorrow or going to my office? It’s difficult to adjust to at first.
On what lies ahead:
Amanda: Planning our wedding! We got engaged just a couple of weeks before we got the call about “The Race,” and initially we tried to plan for both “The Race,” and our wedding, and we realized that was completely impossible while working full time and trying to prepare for ‘The Race.’ So we put it off ’til 2012.