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December 11, 2012

Beekman Boys take home amazing prize

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — The new year promises to be a good one for the Beekman Boys of Sharon Springs. Come to think of it, this year hasn’t been too shabby, either.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, who hadn’t won a single leg in the 21st season of “The Amazing Race” — a 25,000-mile, nine-country endurance test across three continents — were declared the overall winners Sunday night, taking home $1 million.

And given that the race was decided six months ago — it was filmed in May and June — they’ve already started to make changes in their lives.

“As of January, Josh is planning to move to the farm full-time,” Ridge said Monday during a phone interview arranged by CBS.

It will be the first time they’ve lived together in Sharon Springs full-time during the past five years of their 14-year relationship, they said.

They’ve paid off the mortgage on their farm and are planning to move their business, Beekman 1802, across the street into Sharon Springs’ former village hall, they said. In addition to winning “The Amazing Race,” Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge star in the show “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” on the Cooking Channel and have written several books.

But it wasn’t easy. After barely avoiding elimination from the race in France, the goat farmers got what some people may have thought was an advantage when the race moved to New York City — where they had lived for years.

It didn’t turn out that way.

“We had pretty good luck with our cab drivers all around the world until we got to New York,” Kilmer-Purcell said. “When got our cab at JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport) … he actually could not find his way to Coney Island. We had to get out and switch cabs to get ourselves to Coney Island.”

And they nearly blew the pizza test — twice.

First, there was the pizzeria’s location.

“What was funny about this is we used to live in the West Village and use a pizzeria down there that’s very old, called John’s Pizzeria,” Kilmer-Purcell said. “In the clue, it was kind of a trick clue, because it said, ‘Go meet John at the oldest pizzeria.’ And so we were went, ‘Oh, it must be John’s Pizzeria.’

“But because we had always second-guessed ourselves throughout the entire race, Josh said, ‘Well, let’s just look it up on somebody’s iPhone to make sure.’ And had we not done that we would have shown up at John’s Pizzeria.”

Then, they delivered the wrong pizzas to two customers and had to retrace their steps.

“Josh did that,” Ridge said.

But the most terrifying part of the neck-and-neck race, they said, took place at the former Brooklyn Navy Yard, where a member of each team was dangled — in a straightjacket — 15 stories above a dry dock. Not only did they have to get out of the straightjackets, but they also had to endure a surprise bungee-cord plunge that immediately ensued.

“I think that for me was one of those moments in the race where I’m like, ‘Am I actually really doing this?’” Ridge said. “I must say I was able to keep myself very calm.

“Before they started hoisting, I tried to go into a very Zen place. And probably the most terrifying thing for me was when they were suiting you up.”

He said it took about 10 minutes to get out of the straightjacket.

The team’s most nerve-wracking test, they said, came at the United Nations building along the East River. There, a member of each team was asked to recall the words for “hello” and “goodbye” in each of the nine countries the race passed through.

“My immediate focus was just trying to get the ones that I knew up in the air,” Kilmer-Purcell said. “And once I got those up in the air, I played around with the ones that I sort of knew, that I could figure out.”

But then he realized the truth of the test.

“The only way to solve that problem was literally try every mathematical combination of flags,” he said. “That was a tough moment, because I knew it was going to take hours.”

Competitor Alexis “Lexi” Beerman of Texas broke down during that test, Kilmer-Purcell said.

“I could see she was struggling,” he said. “I think she just had the same moment I did, when you realize there is no quick solution to this, in that it was literally going to be hours of struggle to get it right. And I think she just had a hard time accepting that.”

Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge have invited all of their competitors to their wedding this spring in Sharon Springs.

They downplayed any deeper meaning their victory had in advancing gay rights.

“I think what’s great is that the show shows us as just another couple competing on the race and our strengths that come from a 14-year relationship, just like anyone,” Kilmer-Purcell said.