Scott D. Pierce: Utah father and son win ‘Amazing Race’

By Scott D. Pierce

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: May 19, 2014 09:56AM
Updated: May 19, 2014 02:23PM
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Scott D. Pierce

Twenty-two cities,nine countries, more than 23,000 miles — and Dave and Connor O’Leary are a million dollars richer.

The Utah father and son powered their way past the competition to win “The Amazing Race: All Stars.”

“I can’t believe it! We won ‘The Amazing Race!’ ” Dave O’Leary said. “I never imagined this would be possible.”

It is the end of an unscripted story almost too good to be true. The O’Learys were forced to drop out of “The Amazing Race” a year ago when Dave ruptured his Achilles tendon; he had barely completed his recovery when they were invited to compete in this “All Stars” edition.

“Quite a comeback,” Dave O’Leary said. “Quite a comeback,” Connor agreed.

Oh, and they’re both cancer survivors. (David had prostate cancer; Connor had testicular cancer.)

“Three years ago, Connor was undergoing chemotherapy,” Dave O’Leary said, “and shortly thereafter had blood clots and was in intensive care for seven days. We thought he’d lose his life. And to be able to be here with him now …”

The O’Learys had less race experience than any of the other 10 teams in this all-star edition of the race after being forced to drop out early in the fifth leg of their first go-round.

But Dave and Connor were more than up to the task, They won six of the 12 legs of the race, including the last four in a row.

Dave, 58, became the oldest winner in “Amazing Race” history; Connor, 22, tied for the youngest winner.

They’re the first Utahns, the first Mormons and the first parent-child team to win in 24 seasons of the show.

In CBS’ long-running “The Amazing Race,” two-person teams race from country to country, performing various tasks, overcoming various challenges and trying to be first to the mat at the end of each leg. Eight teams were eliminated along the way; three raced to the finish in the season finale.

In the last leg of the race, which aired Sunday, the final three teams flew from the United Kingdom to Las Vegas. They had to dig up a box in the desert; perform an escape under the watchful eye of magician David Copperfield; find a clue at the Neon Museum (aka the Neon Boneyard); and replace lightbulbs on the Mirage hotel high above the strip.

Dave O’Leary had to jump out of a helicopter 10,000 feet in the air above Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And when he was the first to land, he and Connor sprinted to the mat for the win.

Country singers Caroline Cutbirth and Jennifer Wayne finished second; newlyweds Brendan and Rachel Villegas (the team you loved to hate) finished third after several attempts to sabotage their competition.

And Connor O’Leary is “proud of my old man.”

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.