This article contains spoilers for the first two episodes of this season of The Amazing Race.
Rooster Teeth’s Ashley Jenkins and Burnie Burns are now among the 10 teams competing in The Amazing Race’s “Internet Influencer” season, and in a field of young competitors, they’re quick to point out they’re the only team with both contestants over the age of 30. Burns and Jenkins have dated for three years, live together, work together, and are now racing together.
So far, their game has only improved, moving up from a sixth place finish to third place last week. In anticipation of episode 3, the duo revealed packing tips, their unconventional strategy for figuring out who else would be along for the ride, and what they’d do with a potential million-dollar win.
How did you prepare for being away from social media and your jobs for so long?
Burns: We’re pretty lucky because Rooster Teeth is a big company. We can set it up so other people handle our email; we don’t disappear off the face of the earth. I’m a parent, I have two boys, and leaving them for 30 days was much harder than leaving a cellphone behind.
Did you have any inkling of which fellow social media stars you’d be up against?
Jenkins: The Internet is a very big place, and social media is a very big place. We had an idea of one or two people potentially, but also figured we’d also be meeting a lot of the social media people for the first time. There’s Vine, there’s Instagram, there’s a lot of corners of YouTube we don’t know about.
Burns: When I knew we had to leave the following week, and I called people asking, “Are you able to take a meeting next week?” and they’d say, “Sure.’ And I’d think, ‘That’s good.’”
How did you prepare for the race itself?
Burns: We did tons of training. The biggest thing we did was cardio. Going into the race we were the oldest combined team: I don’t think there was another team of races that had both contestants over 30. We did puzzles, we did puzzle rooms, we went out for ballroom dancing lessons. I think the biggest amount of research we did though was we went and read tons of interviews with previous racers, and the big thing we were trying to research was what to pack. We were trying to get our pack down to 10 pounds. We didn’t quite get there.
Do you have packing advice for future racers?
Burns: [Blair Fowler] did a video after the race about what she packed.
Jenkins: She brought a hair dryer.
Burns: Then she overcompensated when she checked in last leg one. For leg two, she threw out everything, including her bathing suit.
Jenkins: She kept one change of clothes, everything else was gone.
Burns: She went from massively overpacked to massively underpacked. Which we can relate to because we checked into the board in Mexico on the first leg [when] there was an overnight before we went into the caves, and we were doing the same thing. Everything we had that was a comfort item, we threw out everything. A blow-up sleeping pad, a water sterilization pen, I just gave all that stuff to locals. When you’re facing down going home in the first leg, all of a sudden you’re sweating bullets.
So what do you think you needed most of all?
Burns: With all due respect to Ms. Fowler, a swimsuit. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of water challenges. You have to have one pair of durable shoes that dry out easily, and a jacket. Going into it we even got ideas from previous contestants. There were the dentists, and I noticed one episode they had a whistle. I got a physical counter—and it had to be mechnical, it couldn’t be electronic—but I thought that could come up for a counting challenge. Quick-drying underwear, something you can wash in the sink and dry out.
This is a very polite race between the teams. No one seems to be mean to each other yet.
Jenkins: Going into it, there’s definitely a sense of camaraderie. In a way, we all come into this feeling like kindred spirits. We really thought just the highest of everybody we raced with.
Burns: Your perspective for one race vs. another is very different, especially on early episodes because there’s only so much time you can spend with one team. This race is one of the rare instances where the first leg is a non-elimination one. Now we’re going into the third leg and this is the first time anyone’s been eliminated. That really changes the tone of the race, once you realize people are going home. We went in with a lot of goals, but our top goal was “Don’t go home first. And win.”
So things will pick up in episode 3?
Jenkins: It finally feels real, like anybody can go home at this point.
Burns: We’re interested to watch other racers. Marty and Hagan [Cobb, who were eliminated last week], we never saw them after Mexico City. There were rumors [that] because [Marty is] a flight attendant they caught an earlier flight and were already done with the leg.
Jenkins: There were all those stories we weren’t there for. We had no idea the girls [Erin Robinson and Joslyn Davis] thought about taking a penalty in the cave.
Burns: And the preview this week, you saw Erin losing it in the catacombs. We had no clue!
What were you prepared for the least?
Burns: I don’t think there is a way to prepare for the amount of stress. Watching the show for many years, yes, it seems stressful but it seems [like] surmountable challenges. But when you’re in the situation, it’s just this recipe for this enormous amount of stress. I don’t know if there’s a way to prepare for it. I don’t know what I could tell someone to prepare to do that.
What do you think your fans are learning about you by watching the show that they didn’t know before?
Jenkins: The biggest thing our fans have learned so far, as far as they’re telling us, is they didn’t realize we kiss so much!
Burns: We don’t think of it that much because that’s just the way we interact with each other, we’re just a supportive couple. But the people who’ve seen us in our shows for Rooster Teeth, we’re not interacting like that.
Jenkins: We don‘t interact that much on camera for Rooster Teeth. Those opportunities to make out don’t come up that much.
How are fans responding in general to your participation?
Burns: A portion of our audience is younger people, and I get tweets every day of people discovering The Amazing Race. Our audience is almost tailor-made to like this show because it takes the entire world and turns it into one giant game. That’s the way Ashely and I approached it. I think we’re making a lot of lifelong race fans.
Jenkins: We hear a lot of very cool stories from the younger members of our audience who are watching The Amazing Race with their parents who are fans. This is something they can do together and bond over.
Let’s assume you won it all. What do you do with the million dollars?
Jenkins: One of the things I would like to do is take the boys to some of these places around the world and show them how amazing it is.
Burns: We’re sitting down with the boys and watching the show with them every week. We say, “We’re going to all these different places. If you see a place you like we’d like to go there with you.” We’d take a great family trip.
Jenkins: I’d love to take the boys to Cartagena. It’s such a beautiful place, and if they mouth off we can throw them in a mud pit. I know where one is now.
The Amazing Race airs Fridays at 8pm on CBS and online on CBS All Access.
Screengrab via The Amazing Race/YouTube