Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic
April 05, 2010 12:00 AM

On the eighth leg of The Amazing Race, the six remaining teams race from the Seychelles Islands to Penang, Malaysia. At the Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas, teams had to choose between a Buddhist Tradition of running towering incense burners up the steep steps of a temple or a Chinese custom of running while balancing flagpoles on your head. Once the task was complete, and one team member completed a coconut-smashing ritual at the Koil Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple, teams made their way to the pit stop at Pining Peranakan Mansion.

Jet and Cord, who previously finished last, started with a distinct disadvantage and had to complete an extra task, identifying tea by sense of smell. But with good decision-making, teamwork and humor, they went from last place to first, blowing away all the other teams by a wide margin. The former first and second place leaders went the other direction and battled each other to avoid elimination, and in this leg — spoiler alert! — Dan and Jordan survived but Steve and Allie’s run came to an end.

What happened? The bottom two teams put themselves there because of one bad decision. Steve and Allie, Dan and Jordan, and Louie and Michael all faced the same dilemma as they sat in traffic on the way to Thnee Kong Thua Temple. Steve and Allie and Dan and Jordan abandoned their taxis and proceeded on foot. Louie and Michael see them but decide to stay put, which ended up being the much better choice.

Go on foot or stay in the car? That conundrum not only defined the outcome of this leg but it highlights a dilemma every racer faces. When things are not going as planned, do you quit what you are doing or do you stay put?

Admittedly, it is easy to judge the decision to abandon the taxis with the benefit of hindsight and the calm of the living room, but I do think we can find fault for two reasons. First, Steve and Allie and Dan and Jordan didn’t know where they were running to in the first place. It is one thing to race ahead on foot when you see the destination; it is quite another when you can get hopelessly lost. Second, there was no reason to race ahead since there were two other teams in sight. Even if the three teams were falling behind the others, it is more important to prevent elimination than to race recklessly ahead. There is safety in numbers. The decision to leave the taxi put both Dan and Jordan and Steve and Allie in jeopardy. But Steve and Allie’s fate was sealed by another decision involving quitting.

Stay on task or try another? When Steve and Allie could not find the location of the Buddhist Tradition detour task, Steve opted to go to the Chinese Custom task. That I don’t have an issue with. But once they got there, Allie saw what they have to do, thought it was too difficult, and implored her father to go back and search for the other location. Steve relented, and that decision to quit the second task proved most fatal.

No matter how difficult the task seemed to be, the team should not have quit. I personally think Allie did not give herself enough credit. Jet struggled with the flag-balancing task but was able to learn it rather quickly. Even if Allie took much longer to learn, the flag task was faster by far. More importantly, it probably took Steve and Allie 15 to 20 minutes to get to the task. To backtrack puts them at least 30 minutes behind Dan and Jordan. It is unlikely Steve and Allie could ever catch up to Dan and Jordan with that type of time deficit. Their only chance at survival was to stay put, gut it out, and conquer the Chinese Custom task. Even so, Steve and Allie did their best and finished with grace. –Victor Jih

Tell us: If you were stuck in traffic, would you have gotten out and raced on foot? Why did everyone shy away from the Chinese Custom task? And who do you think is the next to be eliminated?Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

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