For fashion designer Megan Baker, 26, and makeup artist and mom Heidi Heidel, 31, the biggest part of their adventure on The Amazing Race may have been meeting Santa Monica-based brothers Brian and Greg Smith. The Oak Park, Calif., roommates bonded with the boys on a 10-hour bus ride to Arequipa, Peru. But the two teams faced off against each other in a footrace to the final pit stop at Cerra Santa Lucia in Santiago, Chile, after spotting each other’s taxis in gridlock. In the ensuing run, Brian and Greg edged out Megan and Heidi, making them the second team eliminated from the Race. Megan and Heidi spoke to PEOPLE about their relationship with the guys and how the show helped them overcome their fears.
When did you realize it would be a footrace to the finish?
Heidi: We were actually happy it was as close as it was. We could have lost by a bigger gap.
Megan: Over the last two days prior to elimination, we had gotten close to the guys, so it was really hard, not even just the separation but maybe the responsibility they felt in it, you know. It was hard.
Let’s talk about your relationship with the guys!
Megan: Usually guys in L.A. are pretty shallow and empty-minded. Brian and Greg both go to church every Sunday, they have a great relationship with their family, and they have morals and values that Heidi and I have that we wouldn’t have expected.
Heidi: We are all somewhat the same age, living in the same type of area and we actually happen to know some of the same people back at home. There were a lot of things in common.
On the show’s Web site, Brian mentioned in an interview that there was some cuddling on the 10-hour bus ride to Arequipa. What’s there to tell?
Megan and Heidi: (Laugh)
Megan: You know, I actually don’t know what he was talking about! Heidi, was it difficult to leave your daughter behind while you were off doing the Race?
Heidi: Yeah, that was probably the hardest thing for me. We were gone quite a long time and I had never been away from her like that. She’s 11. But it’s been fun for her because she got to tell her friends and her teachers.
Megan, you wanted to overcome a fear of flying on the Race. How did you do?
Megan: It went amazingly. I was not afraid at any point, I think, because of all the adrenaline. I had thought a lot about it before we left for the Race in terms of just coming to the realization that it was my mind causing the fear, you know, there’s nothing really to be afraid of.
Had you been to South America before this journey?
Megan: I had never left the country, so it was very exciting for me.
Heidi: I speak a little bit of Spanish and I’ve been to Cancun and Puerto Rico. But right from the beginning when we first landed to get on those buses in Lima – because there were people on the Race who spoke so well – we got intimidated right off the bat. They didn’t show this either but when we first arrived in Lima, there was a lady who came up to us and told us to hide our hair under our hats or people would pull it right off our head. We got scared and thought, “Is it safe to go out on our own?” Looking back we realize it was very safe but in the moment we were thinking it was hard.
Have you learned anything new about each other doing the Race?
Heidi: Megan and I have spent so much time together in the last couple of years that I don’t think we’ve learned more about each other. I think we might have butted heads a couple of times but we knew that would happen.
Megan: Heidi and I have been through so many situations that were very stressful or sad, so we were there just knowing we had each other’s back.