I don’t think I’ve ever seen more deserving reality show winners. Nick and Starr Spangler ran The Amazing Raceclose to flawlessly and on tonight’s season finale they were rewarded with 1st place.

Let’s break down everything they did right.

First off, they were a perfect team. I think siblings is the way to go when picking a racing partner. The inescapable unconditional love between a brother and sister can withstand tons more pressure than the love of best friends or lovers. Brothers and sisters can demand the most from each other, push each other and take out frustration on each other and still be able to work as a team because that’s all they’ve done all their lives. Their relationship alone put Nick and Starr ahead of all the other teams.

And then there was the actual dynamic between them. Starr was energetic and slightly paranoid. Her sense of urgency kept them both (as well as cab drivers) on their toes and moving as fast as they could at all times. Meanwhile, Nick kept a cool head. He was rational and thoughtful, playing the game with brains and nerves of steel as well as speed.

They played smart. There was a reason that, unlike most teams, Nick and Starr never lost time for misreading a clue. They gave thought to the status of the other teams (making sure they weren’t giving away clues by being spotted leaving a specific building for example) but never got too caught up worrying about the others. They always double checked the fastest routes and flights, were never afraid to ask for directions, made a point of thinking ahead (like when deciding to ask a taxi driver to wait for them) and often did extra research so they were prepared for each new location and the obstacles it might present. They stayed focused, alert and on task all the time.

They were physically prepared. A musical theatre performer and professional cheerleader, Nick and Starr’s active lifestyles certainly came in handy on the race. They simply ran faster than everyone else. They were both extremely coordinated and dexterous, they picked up physical instructions well and performed tasks easily (no doubt a credit to both of their dance experience). Starr was the toughest woman in the race, one of the few who could always carry her own backpack, and often outperforming many of the men in strength-based competitions. And when Nick had to carry fifty 55 pound bags of flower into a bakery the baker exclaimed “he’s not fit” right before he executed the task just as well as Ken the former NFL player and Dallas the muscle man. Nick and Starr saved a lot of time by cutting out the huffing and puffing that less fit teams like Andrew and Dan went through.

They knew their strengths. When it came to road blocks (a task only 1 team member can perform), Nick and Starr always knew which of them possessed to right set of strengths to perform the task. It’s like when I play Cranium with my brother, we’re unbeatable because he knows facts and I know words, I can guess what he’s acting and he can always tell what tune I’m humming. In Nick and Starr’s case this meant that Nick (the stronger of the 2) completed 5 road blocks while Starr completed 3.

They supported each other. Not only did Starr’s energy keep Nick motivated and Nick’s rationality keep Starr focused, Nick and Starr, more than any other team, could be heard shouting encouragement at each other. Nick (also the faster of the 2), instead of dragging Starr along or leaving her in the dust, would literally and metaphorically carry her, constantly turning back to make sure she wasn’t hurting and that he was running at a reasonable pace. They sprinted to the finish line hand in hand, not one before the other.

They dealt with the other teams perfectly. They had a strategy going into the race to form an alliance with a strong but older team; choosing Ken and Tina early on (a very smart choice considering they went on to get second place), they called them “mom and pop”, knowing that they (Tina especially) would help them along the way. Starr’s flirtation with strong competitor Dallas didn’t hurt either; neither team would have completed that power line detour without working together. But Nick and Starr also weren’t afraid of making enemies. Tiny white lies were never beneath them if it would help them get ahead in the race. And the only team they really pissed off? Kelly and Christy, the worst team running.

They persevered. Though they were blessed with some luck along the way, Nick and Starr, like everyone else, hit some unfortunate bumps on the race. Weeks 2, 3, and 4 they placed 6th twice and 5th once, then were in danger of elimination in week 9 when they came in 3rd. The catch is that every single other finish they had was a 1st place one (7 in total). But they had their fair share of cab drivers who got lost too, and Starr seriously injured her arm while in New Zealand. Nothing slowed them down for long though.


So what does all that get them?
– $1,000,000
– “I won The Amazing Race” bragging rights
– A trip for two tBelize (for winning leg 1)
– A trip for two to St. JohnUS Virgin Islands (leg 5)
– Environmentally friendly electric cars (leg 6)
– A trip for two to KauaiHawaii (leg 7)
– 180-horsepower waverunners (leg 8)
– A trip for two to Anguilla (leg 10)
– Remembered as some of my favourite contestants of all time
– A 2008 My TV Award nominations for Nick as “Best Reality Contestant”