SHARON SPRINGS The Fabulous Beekman Boys were underdogs every step of the way in “The Amazing Race,” until they weren’t.
In Sunday night’s two-hour finale episode of the CBS network’s globe-trotting reality competition’s 21st season, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell emerged as the winners and the recipients of a $1 million prize. The two men are a couple who operate the Beekman 1802 farm in western Schoharie County, raising goats and selling goat’s milk soaps, other skin-care products and decor at Beekman Mercantile in Sharon Springs.
The win was a surprise to casual viewers of the show, as the narrator noted at the onset of the finale that Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell almost got sent home multiple times this season, struggling with heat exhaustion, missed flights and time penalties. “The couple of 14 years drew on the strength of their relationship” to make it to the finale, said the narrator.
That strength was on display in Gotham Hall in New York City, where the team arrived first and was declared winners, before embracing. Addressing the teams that had been ousted before the finale, they said their win proved that no matter what adversity you’re facing, it is possible to win.
Megan Holken, who manages the Beekman shop, hosted more than 50 people of the community at her house on Sunday for their weekly viewing party. “Everyone was screaming and hollering,” she said of the atmosphere at her house in Sharon Springs. “It was really exciting. We’re so happy for them.”
Holken said Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell have been on the brink of elimination all season, but were able to just pull it out in the end. “It’s good when the underdog wins,” she said.
At the start of the final episode, the Beekman Boys appeared to be the odd team out, as the three other teams had formed a secret alliance. They learned about the alliance early in the episode and described it as “demoralizing,” saying it reminded them of high school. But Ridge wouldn’t let it get them down and said it became a motivation for the first hour of challenges, which took them to Spain and then France.
Once in France, their ability to speak and comprehend French became a key asset, prompting a member of one team to note, “You can never count the Beekmans out.”
Despite this edge, it was their ability to slice and dice meat that enabled them to survive the first challenge of the night. They cut up food for hunting hounds faster than the team of twins, which gave them enough of a head start to really struggle with a challenge that required them to hunt for mushrooms in a cave.
“You all look alike,” announced Ridge, as he struggled to find distinct varieties of mushrooms in a dark series of caves. The team left the caves in last place and seemingly destined for elimination, but they survived when the team ahead of them got lost.
The final elimination challenges were in New York City, where Kilmer-Purcell joked they would have a leg up, as they still maintain a residence there. Even if they lost, he said, they would only be a cab ride away from home.
The first challenge required Ridge to escape from a straightjacket while dangling 15 stories in the air from a crane. Before donning the jacket, he said, “I’m not scared. Heights don’t bother me.”
They emerged in second place after that challenge and then had to deliver pizzas to various neighborhoods. A mistake by Kilmer-Purcell set them back, although they didn’t fall out of second place, as they headed to the United Nations headquarters for the final challenge.
It was a language test that required the contestants to call on their memories from previous countries, where they learned how to say “hello” and “goodbye.” Once a team identified each phrase from a handful of counties, it was just a race to Gotham Hall and the $1 million prize.
Kilmer-Purcell represented the Beekman Boys in this challenge, which he turned into a mathematical process-of-elimination project after he answered the first few easy countries, like France and Spain. As he got closer and closer to finishing, he said his motivation became how close they were to the final prize, with victory a real possibility for the first time all season.
They finished the challenge first and held onto the lead for the win.
The second place finishers were two Chippendales dancers, Jaymes and James.