You know, it's really kind of fascinating -- the keys to not getting knocked out in the first half of the race appear to be consistency and luck. Don't make a mistake, and don't get the wrong cab driver. That sort of thing. The key in the second half, though, is endurance, not only in the more obvious physical sense, but also in the emotional sense. Most of the teams that have been eliminated in the second half of both seasons have been eliminated because in one way or another, they ran out of steam. They lost their focus, they got worn out -- basically, they did something that they probably never would have done earlier. In other words, it's not just the racing aspect, it's the interruption of your routines. You fight sleep deprivation and irregular mealtimes and separation from everyone you know except your partner, and those are really the things that you have to overcome in the last half of the race or so. In fact, for those people who are surprised that Cha-Cha-Cha made it as far as they did, given their relative lack of racing intensity, I think this is part of how they did it. They were fairly good at finding ways to minimize the effects that the conditions had on them, which is why their whole "fabulousness" thing wasn't just cute, it was strategically significant. They sort of refused to admit that they felt dirty and tired and stressed out, and I think it sustained them for quite a while when they otherwise might have been knocked out. Anyway.
Tara and the Weasel drive grimly to the pit stop. They drive up to the airfield, hop out, and run inside the hangar to the mat. "Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand," says an older guy in a classic aviator hat, who has just become the season's cutest greeter. "Tara and Wil," Phil says. "Oh, no!" Tara says anxiously, wondering if Phil's weekly mindfuck is about to kick her in the teeth. Unfortunately, it's not. He tells them they're the first team to arrive. They high-five, and Wil jumps up and down. Phil also tells them that they are the winners of yet another vacation, provided by the World Wildlife Fund, the League of Women Voters, Doctors Without Borders, Camp Heartland, AMFAR, Project Vote-Smart, the Public Interest Law Project, and Habitat for Humanity. Bite me, corporate product-placement hookers.