The latest "Amazing Race" winners Cindy Chiang and Ernie Halvorsen of Chicago credit their $1 million victory to the fact that they left nothing to chance.
Yet, they feel their chance meeting led them to the amazing adventures they’ve shared.
The newly engaged Chicago couple put their wedding plans on hold to compete on the show, tossing aside guest lists and seating charts to make way for backpacks and maps of the world as they visited 4 continents, 10 countries and 20 cities, traveling 35,000 miles to victory. “This competition was the best premarital counseling!” Cindy says. “We really found out how we can work together to conquer anything,” Ernie adds.
Sweet Home Chicago
The couple met while Ernie was living in Germany for work, and home in Chicago for a short visit. He and his father were in Wrigleyville, enjoying a post Cubs game beer and crossed paths with Cindy and her girlfriends who asked Ernie to take their picture. After a short chat and exchange of information they parted ways. The next four months were filled with daily email exchanges as the couple, who have cemented their relationship while traveling the world, originally got acquainted from across the world.
“It’s actually a great way to discover somebody,” Cindy confides, “there is no time for playing games, we just asked and answered direct, honest questions.”
Making Their Own Destiny
Fans of "The Amazing Race," the couple sent in an audition tape, and before they were even cast, began a rigorous training that included rock climbing and triathlons, but also creative strategic preparation. Their entire apartment became an operations center for their Amazing Race dream. The living room wall was covered in a world map of different color-coded Post-its that designated each of the countries already visited in the shows previous 18 seasons.
“We knew that the show was unlikely to visit the same locations again, so we were able to eliminate certain areas and focus on others, learning key tourist destinations and basics of the language,” Ernie says.
They also listed all of the challenges from previous seasons and broke them into categories, deciding who would be best suited for each task. “In so many ways, it really helped us to see how one’s weakness could be balanced by the other’s strength,” Cindy says with a smile, and it’s easy to see that this amazing couple has plenty more victories ahead.
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