In the third episode of CBS' "The Amazing Race," airing Wednesday night, a pair of Gonzales firefighter/paramedics are still in it to win it.
Eric and Daniel Guiffreda, 33-year-old identical twins who grew up in Ponchatoula, and eight other teams of two have successfully completed the Iceland and Belgium legs of the reality competition series that's part physical (such as traversing a canyon 150 feet above a swiftly-flowing river), part mental (such as analyzing and appraising diamonds to their exact dollar value), and totally challenging. The around-the-world adventure heads to Morocco tonight.
Eleven teams started the race in New York. Each week, the last team completing the challenge is eliminated. During the show's 30th season, the teams are traveling almost 30,000 miles, which will take them to 10 countries and 21 cities. The team that crosses the final finish line first wins $1 million.
5 questions for Eric Guiffreda
Eric Guiffreda and his wife, Caitlyn Guiffreda, are the parents of Gillian, 3, and Emilia, 1. The girls also are enjoying watching the show, pointing out "Daddy" and "Uncle Daniel" along the way.
What prompted you to apply for the show?
My wife's been watching it since the beginning, way before we met. When we got married, I started watching it. Katelyn kept saying 'You and your brother need to apply.' So we did our (audition) video, and they (show runners) called us 14 months later.
Did your other competitors (which included an Indy 500 winner, retired NBA All-Stars, X-Game champions, a world champion competitive eater, nationally-ranked debaters and a pair of Season 19 “Big Brother” house guests) intimidate you, with all the things they'd already done?
Everybody had done something, and they were all good in their field. 'The Amazing Race' is kind of an equalizer for everybody because it's not just about being fit; it's not just about being smart. You can train all you want to, but you'll never be ready for all the things they come up with for you.
And how was it competing against these guys?
This season, there wasn't a lot of drama. Everybody got along really good, and we actually enjoyed everybody. Unless somebody said something behind our backs. Maybe we'll find out (laughing).
Was the experience what you expected it to be?
It was kind of half and half. It was everything that we saw, but after watching the first episode and seeing how much is not on there, it makes sense now. Because you'll always see, OK, you're at the gorge, then you're at the other thing, now you're crossing the finish line, and maybe a little shot driving. We were there a long time, that was an all-day thing. You got up 6 a.m. in New York, then a six- or seven-hour flight, and then a whole day (of the race).
How did you and your brother end up in the same careers and locations?
After we both served in the Marines, he (Daniel) went in the Air Force, he picked fire and rescue training. I got into it after helping at a car accident one time. We started out volunteering for the department in Baptist, really liked it and wanted to do it as a career. I went to EMT school, and then we got hired on in Madisonville with the St. Tammany fire district. And that's how is started.
5 questions for Daniel Guiffreda
Daniel Guiffreda's third child, Titus, now 4 months old, arrived just 12 hours before his flight from New Orleans to New York for the start of "The Amazing Race." He and his wife, Kellie Guiffreda, also are parents to Lexi, 5; and Levi, who's almost 3. "My wife was awesome through this entire experience, and it's because of her I was able to do this. She supported me 100 percent even knowing it would be challenging having to be alone with the children for a month."
How did you prepare for the competition?
I prepared by working out daily and by watching past seasons constantly to better prepare for the tasks we would be faced with.
Do you think competing alongside your brother made the challenges any easier, and would you consider being in another such competition?
Being on the show with Eric gave us the advantage of not having to learn another person and what their strengths and weaknesses are. We know each other's abilities and weaknesses and can make decisions accordingly. I would consider a similar competition in the future if the timing was right. With three young children and work, things stay moving at a steady pace.
What was the hardest part about the whole experience of being on the show?
The hardest part was having no communication with my family, especially with my son having just been born the day before I had to leave.
Was the show what you expected? Were there any big surprises?
The show was what I expected in the sense that it was challenging, fun and involved traveling to unique locations. I did not expect some of the tasks to be as challenging as they were because, of course, they looked much easier when I was sitting on my couch watching them. You only see maybe 10 percent of what actually happened when you watch the episodes, and there was a lot of frustrations, unclear clues and getting turned around that happened in the other 90 percent. But it was a great experience.
What is your involvement with the Air Force?
I am a 1st lieutenant with the Air Force Reserve and serve as a chaplain.
'The Amazing Race'
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesdays
CHANNEL: WAFB, Channel 9 (cable Channel 7)