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The Amazing Race: How the winners finally ran their perfect leg

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Robert Voets/CBS

In a season of big personalities with even bigger dreams of winning The Amazing Race, Kelsey and Joey (a.k.a. The Reporters) flew under the radar by doing something that ended up being pretty remarkable: just getting along with each other. Their race-mates in Friday’s final leg might have been louder (ahem, Justin) and feistier (AHEM, Paparazzi), but The Reporters knew how to assert themselves where it counted… because doesn’t it just always come down to the cabs on The Amazing Race?

Kelsey and Joey finished in second place a record-breaking five legs in a row leading up to the finale, but they said all along — with only a hint of bitterness in their TV-ready voices — that there was only one first-place finish that mattered. And that’s the one they got, beating out the dominant Green Team and the Paparazzi to claim their million-dollar finish on that Final Mat in Southampton, with Phil Keoghan — and the eight teams who didn’t make it to that final New York leg — waiting to cheer the clear Miss Congenialities of season 27.

That’s not to say the Reporters made it out of everyone’s favorite rrrrace around the world without at least one fiery moment. EW caught up with Kelsey and Joey before the finale aired to get some behind-the-scenes clarity on that finale taxi drama, hear how they gave Justin a run for his TAR historian money, and find out how they finally ran their perfect leg:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’d said after one of your many second-place finishes that you knew it would take running a perfect leg if you ever hoped to beat the Green Team to first place… was the finale that perfect leg?

Joey: We kind of feel like the last three legs we ran pretty perfectly, but Justin and Diana just happened to be in front of us for those other ones. I think us running close to perfect, plus the little mistakes of the other teams, is what sold it for us … keeping that cab is what really kept us in front.

Oh yes, we must talk about that cab. That was certainly the most fired up we’d ever seen you — maybe with the Paparazzi that’s bound to happen. If you hadn’t been running up at the exact right moment, do you think they would have taken your cab?

Kelsey: Well, we had just been in the cab … we just had to go drop off Joey’s fire boots, so we literally were out of the cab for maybe 30, 45 seconds, and then I see the cab door shut. So we start booking after it, and there was no way, there was no possibility that cab was going anywhere. We would have been standing in front of the cab, knocking the doors down…

Joey: They would have had to run me over to get that cab. The driver was also very confused, like, “Who are these two other people in my cab?” And then we’re running up, yelling, and I just lost it. We hadn’t been in any confrontations in this entire season, but I knew this was a pivotal moment where there was no way that could happen.

Those cabs at Randalls Island absolutely determined the placement on the Final Mat. So how did you guys manage to get your cab to stay put when no one else could?

Kelsey: We didn’t pay him! We looked him eye-to-eye, we said, “We promise we’re coming back, just keep the meter running, and we’ll pay you when we get back.” We knew if a cab is waiting on a $100 fare, they’re not going to go anywhere. It was a bit of a risk, though, because we didn’t know if we were going to have another cab ride, and I think after we paid that cabbie, we had less than $20 left. But we knew going into the final leg, especially being on an island, losing our cab was not a risk we could take.

Joey: In general, I think being kind to taxi drivers comes across no matter whether you speak the language or not. These people are trying to help you out, they’re trying to get you where you’re’ going … just treating people with a certain amount of respect along the way really went a long way for us.

Your cab knowledge sounds extensive — have you always been big fans of the show?

Joey: Justin’s not the only superfan, we want to make that very clear! Everybody might think he’s the only one who’s ever seen the show before. Kelsey is major. I’ve watched The Amazing Race every season, but…

Kelsey: I’ve been watching it since season 1, episode 1, as it aired on TV. The Amazing Race is the family show we sat down to watch together every week. And it’s been on so long, I grew up with my parents saying, “You need to learn how to drive a stick shift for The Amazing Race, you need to learn another language for The Amazing Race,” never thinking I’d actually be on the show. So for it to actually come true, and then to win it… oh my gosh, I can’t wait to see their faces tonight.

Joey: And we never thought we’d get it when we sent the video in, but when we did, we automatically went into training mode. We started running stadiums in our backpacks and learning all those things you see on the race — using a compass…we went repelling and rock-climbing. [Laughs.] We even went and shot a gun just to see what it was like and have a little bit of knowledge of everything that we possibly could. Of course, barely any of it helped out. But we thought we were pretty prepared going in!

Sounds like maybe you weren’t as prepared as you thought…

Joey: [laughs] The Amazing Race is so much harder than you could ever imagine… There are 500 things we would have loved to have done to get in better shape for it.

Kelsey: Joey and I pushed ourselves, 200 percent — we went past what we thought we could give. We collapsed on the mat, literally. We were sick because we put so much into it.

Joey: Once we got home, we were in bed for the next five days just trying to recover. I’d lost 17 pounds on the race! We were just physically beat up — I mean, it paid off, but yeah. Exhausted. We dug deeper in that final leg than I think either of us knew we could dig.

What did that newfound strength teach you about yourselves and your relationship?

Kelsey:  I think we went into it knowing we were in love, that we were in a solid relationship, but we made it the entire race, through all 10 countries without really getting in a fight — and I was surprised. Because we don’t know what we’d be like with 24/7 of being together, but we actually loved it, and it was hard to even separate when it was over.

So, last question, then: Would you do it all again?

Joey: Tomorrow.

Kelsey: If they told us they needed us to leave in the morning, we would.

Joey: We’re hoping season 30 will be a Winner’s Edition.

Me. Too.