Marijana Rajčić and Chelsea Randall joined the race as the first team of stowaways, arriving several weeks after the race had officially kicked off. As professional athletes, the pair were physically intimidating and sailed through many of the legs, proving early on that they were going to be strong contenders.
In the 18th leg, teams continued to race around Tasmania and, starting off with a physical challenge, MJ and Chelsea were happy in first place. But that lead almost immediately slipped through their fingers when they hit traffic and, arriving at the next task, found themselves behind Jaskirat and Anurag and Skye-Blue and Jake.
“If you beat someone in a running race by, like, a minute,” Chelsea told 10 play, “a minute is nothing when you jump in a car and hit a traffic jam. All of a sudden it blows out and you’re back in different positions.”
That slight switch in positions meant MJ and Chelsea were vulnerable when it came to the U-Turn later in the leg.
So far, there had only been one U-Turn in the fourth leg of the race where Shane and Deb made the decision to U-Turn Holly and Dolor, justifying their choice by saying they knew the power couple could make up for lost time and avoid elimination.
This time around, with three of the four teams that make up the originals alliance in the leg (and Ashleigh and Amanda skipping the leg due to a First Class Pass), it meant that the choice was likely between MJ and Chelsea and Chris and Aleisha.
“We expected a U-Turn to be there and, depending on the teams, we expected to be U-Turned as well,” MJ said.
“Coming in as stowaways was a shock to a lot of the teams” Chelsea continued. “To be fair, we didn’t even realise we were stowaways until 24 hours before jumping into the race. So we had this target on our backs from the word go.”
Missing the first few weeks of the race, MJ explained, the pair missed out on the core bonds that teams formed in the first legs.
“They call themselves ‘the originals’ alliance, you can see it’s a friendship. That’s hard. That’s something hard to break into so we knew that and I guess we expected that U-Turn to come to us,” MJ said.
“At the end of the day,” Chelsea said, “it’s a game. It’s part of the race. We’re absolutely heartbroken that it happened to us but… it is a compliment on one hand because teams were threatened by us.”
Looking back there are no hard feelings about Jaskirat and Anurag’s decision. MJ and Chelsea said they knew a U-Turn was almost a certainty at that point in the race and, due to how strong the alliance has become this late in the game, there was a strong chance they’d be the ones targeted.
And, ultimately, it wasn’t the U-Turn that ended their time in the race. Having completed both detours and with the final clue in their hands directing them to the Pit Stop, Mj and Chelsea were neck-and-neck with Chris and Aleisha.
Asking a passing car for directions, MJ was given “a bum steer” and the duo was taken in the wrong direction. Finally realising their mistake, MJ and Chelsea turned around and got to the Pit Stop as fast as they could, only to see Chris and Aleisha still in the midst of checking in with Beau.
Despite their best efforts, they had missed out by a minute or two at the most.
“That was the hardest thing for me to deal with,” MJ admitted. “I feel like I let us down. But the fact that we did get U-Turned and we were still able to overcome that was awesome.”
Watching the show back, the pair have been able to see what a strong team they make, how well they communicate and how they overcame so many challenges throughout the race.
“To be able to do this while the country was in lockdown,” Chelsea said, “we were very grateful for the opportunity to be able to travel around Australia, our home, and see some amazing things, do some incredible things that money just can’t buy.
“It was bloody tough, definitely harder than playing a game of footy,” she added. “We spend our lives preparing for football, we know what to expect on game day, what’s going to unfold and every morning you jump into The Amazing Race, you just don’t know what’s going to come at you… but that’s the exciting thing!”
Watch The Amazing Race Australia 7.30 Sunday to Tuesday on 10 and 10 play or catch up on every episode so far on demand on 10 play