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‘Amazing Race’ couple got fit for show

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Martinsville couple selected to appear on The Amazing Race television program started getting in shape for the challenge months before they were selected to be on the show.

Preparation or advance planning typically goes against their grain. "We're spur of the moment people," Steve Cole said of he and his wife, Linda.

The new season of the show premieres tonight, and the Coles will be one of 11 teams competing in The Amazing Race 14 to mark the 14th race.

When Steve Cole hit on the idea in May to apply for The Amazing Race, they committed to getting ready physically for what could be a grueling ordeal if they were selected.

A reality TV game show, the Amazing Race features two-person teams who have some form of personal relationship. The teams follow clues to travel to and within different countries to try and finish the race first. The winners are awarded a large cash grand prize - typically $1 million, according to online information.

An application and eligibility requirements can be downloaded at the Web site of CBS, which airs the program. Applications for the Amazing Race 15 must be received by 5 p.m. Feb. 24.

While the Coles admit winning the prize money would be nice, the adventure was a bigger lure. They realized preparation was key.

"I lost 35 pounds. I wanted to make sure I could run. Steve also taught me to swim," Linda Cole said.

They went to the YMCA "three or four times each week" for 60-90 minute sessions, Steve Cole said. "We would walk and run the track some. We practiced walking. We were constantly swimming and walking," he said.

The two wanted to be ready "just in the rare instance that we did get picked. We thought it would be best to be prepared, to be the best we can be," Linda added.

They could not discuss specifics, such as whether the training paid off.

Two or three months later, in May, the Coles were called to Los Angeles for an interview. While there, Linda Cole said they also received physicals and other medical tests.

"After LA, we knew we were part of the way (toward being picked for the show), but we didn't know" if they would make the final cut, Steve Cole said.

Four to six weeks later in midsummer, "we got the call" and learned they had been selected to compete, Linda Cole said.

The wait for that call "was the hardest part," Steve Cole said, but a second challenge then presented itself.

"We had to be quiet about everything," Linda Cole said, adding it was hard "to have such a big secret."�

Only two family members - one in each of their families in case of an emergency - and their employers knew the truth, Steve Cole said. He is a carpenter, and Linda Cole works at a call center.

On The Amazing Race, teams will be shown "traveling one of the most grueling courses ever assembled on the race - spanning 40,000 miles and nine countries in just 22 days," according to CBS.

The Coles will compete with a group of racers that include "brothers who are stuntmen, a pair of flight attendants, a brother/sister team who are Harvard lawyers, an accomplished feature film writer/producer/actor and his father, a team of former NFL cheerleaders and the race's first ever deaf contestant and his mother," according to CBS.

For the first time, teams will travel to Romania and Siberia, as well as Switzerland, India, People's Republic of China, Thailand and Russia "before hitting the finish line in Maui, Hawaii," according to CBS.

Team members "will be faced with a multitude of extremes, including the world's second tallest bungee jump, bone-chilling Siberian temperatures followed by the suffocating heat of India, and an Olympic-sized challenge that leaves teams gasping for air," the network stated.

Although the Coles cannot talk about their experiences on the show, and more specifically whether they won or lost, the couple still can hardly believe their good fortune in being selected.

"We were shocked when we got picked," Linda Cole said. "We're just regular people."�

Cole met his wife, who is a native of Michigan, in his hometown of Lynchburg. They have lived in South Carolina and moved to Martinsville about a decade ago.


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