After surviving a dip in the Ganges, a cracked rib, driving the wrong way for hours, Globetrotter bullying, lots of bickering and runny makeup, L.A.-based models Vyxsin Fiala, 32, and Kent Kaliber, 35, were ultimately taken down on The Amazing Race by a misread clue. The pair placed fifth as they had done in season 12, but argued to PEOPLE that didn’t mean they didn’t improve.
How’d it feel to have your elimination airing preempted by President Obama?
Kent: We were having a viewing party. When we turned it on and saw the big news instead of the show, we announced, “World news is a little more important than The Amazing Race.” We’re cool taking a back seat to the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Two seasons, two fifth-place finishes. Maybe five is your lucky number.
Kent: On the first Race, we survived 8 out of 11 legs. This time, it was 10 out of 11. Although technically speaking our place is the same, we made it further the second time. We can walk away proud. We didn’t win but we obviously improved.
Vyxsin: It was a lot tougher this time. There were so many rock star teams. Any team very easily could have won so placing in the upper half’s a big deal.
The game makers seemed to up the ante for the all stars.
Vyxsin: It’s not The Amazing Vacation. We had two double legs within the first five. But it wasn’t our first rodeo so we expected to be pushed and they delivered.
Kent: Absolutely the most grueling Race ever. They delighted in their torture of us.
At any point like when you saw other teams walking, did you suspect you screwed up?
Vyxsin: No, because once the cab dropped us off, we were walking too. Kent: We saw other teams running up to taxis so we assumed they were getting in not just asking for directions. A few other teams almost made the same knee-jerk reaction. That was our fatal moment. Every team except one will go home with one. They will think if only we’d turned left instead of right or run up the hill instead of down. Maybe ours was a little more dramatic than others’ mistakes, but that’s how we roll.
Had you realized the mistake, was there enough time to fix it?
Vyxsin: Probably because I was the first to finish the roadblock despite being the turtle. I was being really meticulous with the mold and therefore it held together which is why I didn’t have to redo it like everyone else. I was not going to be beaten at an art challenge. That’s my deal. We spent almost 45 minutes to get that cab and even with the penalty we were only about 10 minutes behind Zev and Justin at the pit stop. So had we realized, we probably would have beaten them at least.
There were some pretty tense moments and lots of blame thrown around. How’s your relationship now?
Kent: We’re still great. We bickered, but it was never personal. Whenever we got to a mat, we were happy. Even after elimination, we reflected and left arm-in-arm. We learned even more about each other and ourselves and became closer in moments where we overcame the odds. Moments where we weren’t so perfect were equally educational. It should be called Amazing Therapy.
Who deserves to win?
Kent: Zev and Justin. They’re incredible players who came in first more than any other teams and I have mad respect for them staying out of the chocolate melodrama.