Team Jumba says ‘Do svidaniya’ to The Amazing Race

(Originally published in The California Aggie)

Two taxi rides in St. Petersburg, Russia, turned out to be the kryptonite that eliminated Michael and Kevin Wu from The Amazing Race 17.

In the seventh episode of the season, which aired on Nov. 7, the father-son YouTube stars were the second to last of seven remaining teams to check in at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg for the end of the Russian leg of the race. But because they took taxis to two locations, which were not allowed for those tasks, they were forced to wait one hour as a penalty before officially checking in.

During that time, the last team arrived, and the Wus were sent home.

“It was unfortunate to get out, but we understood our mistake,” Kevin said. “We told ourselves we would try not to make any fatal mistakes but during the last episode we made two or three so that really caused us to get last.”

Kevin said he had been confident that he and his dad would be strong competitors and was disappointed to not make it farther in the race.

“It was painful to watch for both of us,” said Kevin, who is currently taking a break from his third year at UC Davis. “I think we’re happy [with our overall performance] but in the back of my mind I really thought we had the potential to go all the way. I’m a very competitive person so nothing short of the top three or being first was something I was going to be excited about.”

During their time on the race, the Wus traveled from Massachusetts to England, Ghana, Sweden, Norway and Russia. At the end of the Ghana leg, Kevin and Michael came in last but were spared by a surprise non-elimination.

As a condition of their non-elimination, the Wus had to perform an extra task, called a “Speed Bump,” during their next leg in Sweden: Sit on a chair made of ice for 10 minutes.

Kevin said this was the most difficult task he had to complete on the race.

“That was painful for me because I was wearing boxer shorts,” he said.

Michael, a computer consultant from Sugar Land, Tex., said a task in England in which teams had to paddle across a river in a small, medieval boat called a coracle was especially memorable for him.

“That was the first time we really worked together,” he said. “And dog sledding [in Sweden] – it wasn’t even like a task, I enjoyed it so much.”

The Wus said they were happy with how they were portrayed on television, and said they received a lot of support from friends, family and fans.

“Every Sunday when the show was over my daughter would call me and say ‘You did great, Dad!’” Michael said. “Monday I come to work and everybody comes over to me, saying ‘Oh, you did great!’”

Many fans have expressed their disappointment over Kevin and Michael’s elimination. On the Kevin Jumba Facebook page, one fan wrote, “I cried after watching The Amazing Race Season 17 Episode 7! I’ll be a fan forever. Don’t stop, Team Jumba!”

One hundred and three people have also joined a Facebook group called “I Only Watched The Amazing Race Cause KevJumba Was On It.”

The Wus said they will continue to make videos together now that the race is over. Despite their elimination, Kevin said he thought the race did bring him and his dad closer. Michael said the experience was priceless.

“I will always treasure these memories I have with my son, even when he’s grown up and has his own life,” Michael said.

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