Life in Varanasi, India, is considerably different from life in Tupelo, Okla., and the McCoy brothers know that better than most after taking part in the seventh leg of “The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business.”

But they also found there are a lot of similarities.

“We come clear across the world to haul some hay,” said Cord McCoy, who is on the 18th season of the CBS-TV reality series with his brother, Jet.

The brothers from southeastern Oklahoma began the leg in Kolkata, India, in second place. But they didn’t stay there long. In fact, while the other six teams got the earliest flight to Varanasi, the McCoys took a flight that put them an hour behind.

“The competition … it just keeps getting tougher and the game gets more intense as we go,” Jet said. “Our game plan from the first has been to minimize mistakes. Seems like we kind of got the kinks worked out these last three legs, and hopefully we can keep that momentum going. No room for error here.”

The brothers, though, didn’t realize their mistake until it was about time to board their plane when they didn’t see any other racers.

“If nobody else gets on this one, that means they’re all ahead of us,” Cord said.

“It’s going to be a long day,” Jet replied.

It was. Once the cowboys landed in Varanasi, they realized they were 30 minutes to an hour behind the other teams. Their goal was to go as quickly as possible during the leg’s “road blocks” and “detours” to hopefully make up ground. In fact, as they arrived at the first challenge, only half the teams were still there, the father-daughter teams of Gary and Mallory Ervin and Ron and Christina Hsu and the Goth couple, Kent Kaliber and Vyxsin Fiala.  

“We see the cowboy hats bobbing over the crowd, and I think all three of us girls were concerned because the cowboys are so efficient,” Fiala said, noting that each team’s men handled the “road block” challenge in which they searched for religious men and completed a puzzle. “I think everyone feels pretty intimidated and threatened by them.”

The challenge meant the competitors had to tour the streets of Varanasi in order to find the pieces to their puzzle; Cord tackled the task for the McCoys.

“How fast you run is how fast you’re going to get through the road block, but you don’t want to miss anything either,” Cord said. “So you’re whipping your head back and forth, and your feet are going 9.0 and your hands are in front of you in case you hit a car.

“The profession that Jet and I grew up doing, competing in rodeos and riding bulls and bucking horses, you don’t get paid unless you win. So you’ve just got to leave all your cards on the table while you’re here.”

Cord rushed through the challenge and finished ahead of Ron Hsu.

“I knew the cowboys would catch up,” Christina Hsu said. “I was just hoping they wouldn’t catch up to us.”

The “detour” involved India’s relationship of livestock. Teams could either feed the fire, making 50 traditional fuel patties made out of buffalo patties, then slapping them onto a wall to dry in the sun; or crossing the Ganges River to retrieve hay, then cross the Ganges again to deliver it to the address that’s listed on each of the bundles of hay.

Three teams made the fuel, while the other four teams, including the McCoys, hauled hay.

“The crap I do for a million dollars …” said manure spreader Jennifer Hoffman, who is on the race with her sister, LaKisha.

The teams then had to cross the Gange River again to find the “pit stop” at Ramnagar Fort. The Globetrotters, Herb Lang and Nate Lofton, finished first. The McCoys finished the leg in fifth place.

“Every time we had a chance to bust it and get back in the race by pure grit and try, that’s what we did,” Cord said.

The Hsus finished last and were eliminated.

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