Talk about overcoming the odds.
On their way to victory, doctors Nat Strand and Kat Chang coped with diabetes, a vegetarian's worst nightmare and a debilitating fear of heights.
So how'd they crack The Amazing Race gender barrier? Here's what TAR's first-ever all-female winners told us about their amazing experience...
Congrats on making The Amazing Race history! How does it feel?
Kat: We're so, so excited especially now we're able to share it with people, it makes it more real, and we're just honored.
Nat: It feels amazing.
What gave you an edge in the final leg?
Nat: The real thing at the Rose Bowl was picking the right taxi. They had 10 taxis there, and I don't know if it was on purpose or not to have a few in there that were particularly awful. Kat went down the whole list and it took us to the very last one to find one that was suitable to get in.
Nat, what particular challenges did your diabetes present during the race?
Nat: We had to get a little creative, starting with the supplies: My insulin pump was a little bulky, and along with packing clothes for anywhere from the Arctic Circle to Africa, we had to bring duplicate diabetic supplies—Kat had full supplies in her backpack just in case one of us lost a backpack. We had to keep the insulin cold in extreme heat, and carry a month's supply of sugar tablets and snacks to treat low blood sugars, and lot of blood testing. I probably pricked my finger 8-12 times a day to track it and keep up with all the changes that were going on. It was a team effort between Kat and I in dealing with it, but I was really happy to show although it was a challenge it's definitely not a limitation.
Was your fear of heights as debilitating as your diabetes?
Nat: Diabetes is chronic thing I manage on day-to-day basis. My fear of heights...I like to say I'm a strong, independent woman, but apparently I turn into a 5-year-old whenever I see anything over three stories tall. I definitely think in short term my fear of heights is more debilitating. Lucky for me I only had to do that one thing at the end of the race. It wasn't something I had to overcome again and again.
Kat, what was it like, as a vegetarian, having to eat a sheep's head in the Norway challenge?
Kat: Nat and I knew there was a possibility of having a food challenge in the race, and we decided before we went that if it needed to be done we were going to do it. We came in mentally prepared. I'm not gonna lie, it didn't taste very good—it's not what I remember meat tasting like—but we also did it really, really quickly.
Did the sheep act as a gateway drug to eating other meat again?
Kat: [Laughs.] No! That gave me no motivation to go back to eating meat. I can't believe I actually did it..
Nat: People say to us, "Oh, now you've overcome your challenge or your fear," and we both are like, "No." I feel valid in my fear of heights now, and Kat can feel completely valid in her decision not to eat meat. That has really supported our original decision.
Do you think the challenges this season were more fair to women?
Nat: The race is about a lot—it's about endurance, it's about teamwork, it's about navigation. Before I think there were some challenges that women were probably at a severe disadvantage. I don't think this season was devoid of that: climbing up from the bottom of the bridge and carrying those bricks took a lot of upper body strength. But I do think when we were gluing flowers on a Rose Parade float, I was like, huh, this doesn't seem very hard.
Kat: Then again it seemed Thomas struggled a little bit more with that than Nat or Brook, so maybe instead of saying it was more female friendly, maybe it was just a little more fair.
Nat: When you have one strength challenge after the next, eventually odds will have it that a male-male team will do better because they do have more upper body strength. I think when you add all sorts of challenges it's just more fair for everybody. But I don't think everybody had easier challenges this season by any means.