'Amazing Race' 's Linda & Steve: At Least We Weren't the First To Go!

Photo: Michael Becker/FOX(2)

Although they’re bummed they didn’t bring $1 million home to Martinsville, Va., Steve, 43, and Linda Cole, 52, were relieved they weren’t the first team eliminated on The Amazing Race 14. The self-described hillbillies will be remembered for their ample tears, a wrong turn down a mountain path in Germany and a genuine love that steered them through an on-air argument, a stressful race and 17 years of marriage. — Carrie Bell

Why did you want to run the Race?Linda: Steve is crazy about the Amazing Race and really wanted to do it. I didn’t think I could but he wanted it so badly that I said, “Fine, we’ll make the video tape.” Steve: For me, it is one of those things where you sit at home and watch make the stupidest mistakes and you say, “I can do that and I can do it better.” Linda: No matter what we didn’t want to be the first ones eliminated and we accomplished that.

Knowing that physically you would be outmatched by the inevitable team of models or athletes, how did you prepare?Steve: Linda is very good at booking tickets and working deals, the stuff that requires more thinking. I was more the physical person. That’s why I thought we’d make a good team and be a huge success. I seriously thought we had a good opportunity of winning but there was stiff competition. Linda: We started preparing before we got picked just hoping CBS would give us a shot. I lost 35 pounds. Steve taught me to swim at the Y and I started climbing ladders so I could get over my fear of heights.

Would you both agree that it was harder than you anticipated?Steve: A lot harder. It is so much easier to sit at home and call someone an idiot than it is to be out there being the idiot. At first, you are still in shock that it is actually happening yet you have to do something immediately or you’ll be eliminated. Linda: You don’t know what it’s really like unless you’ve been there.

What went wrong?Linda: I was on that mountain for four hours. Steve: I graciously lose, but I feel like we lost because we made a mistake and that’s how most teams get eliminated. Linda getting lost on the mountain was a big setback but she wasn’t the only one who did. There were four or five other teams that did.

You called yourselves “hicks from the sticks” but did the hillbilly pigeonhole ever bug you?Linda: It makes for wonderful TV. I can totally understand why CBS would portray us the way they did because I did do a lot of crying and carrying on. I can’t say I didn’t do those things. I am from Michigan but have lived more than half my life in the south so I have adapted southern ways. But being southern doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Steve: People hear the accents and think you’re slow. I don’t think we’re slow but I knew a lot of would perceive us that way. That said, I am probably a country bumpkin. I grew up in the south. I’m not from the big city. We live in a small town. I am proud of who I am. But it can get a little hurtful.

You did have the smartest strategy (turning your carrier into a sled) during the cheese challenge, one of the most difficult in the show’s history.Steve: I was proud of that. I thought we would have an advantage because I am so used to doing stuff like that. I work with my hands as a carpenter and am used to working by myself that I thought we could gain time by being smart.

One thing can’t take away from you is your obvious love for each other despite an early fight.Linda: He really does love me. I wanted to keep going as soon as we got off the mountain and he said, ‘No we are getting you some water and you are going to sit down.’ I wished they showed that. The Race is just so stressful and it doesn’t bring out the prettiest side of you. Steve: Granted, we did get in an argument and it had every right to be on TV. But stress brought that on and I didn’t cuss her out or degrade her. I was just hugely disappointed. We didn’t sleep that night. We sat by the campfire and we talked. I changed my whole attitude after that. I was wrong.

What was your favorite part?Linda: I loved the pie throwing. Steve: The bungee jump is on the top of my list but the cheese challenge was incredible for me because we proved we were capable of being there and we weren’t just picked to be the dumb hicks.

What has the reaction been like since you returned home?Steve: The local newspaper did and article on us. Everybody has been real positive. Linda: Where I work as a customer relations supervisor, there are 800 and everyone has been so supportive. It’s going to be hard to go to work today. I’m going to put a sign on that says eliminated.

Michael Becker/FOX(2)

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