‘The Amazing Race’s’ Dusty: ‘Elevators, rocks and cheese will haunt me forever’

Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris looked like the ones to beat on “The Amazing Race 33” for a majority of the season — they never finished lower than fourth place — but it was basically over before it ever got going for them on the final leg. Tasked with finding a lock combination code on the side of a hotel elevator, the BFFs didn’t put the clue together until it was too late. They never recovered and finished in third place while Kim and Penn edged out Raquel and Cayla for the win.

We caught up with Dusty (Ryan was unavailable) to relive the elevator drama/trauma and clear up doorknobgate.

Gold Derby: Congrats on third place, but I imagine that was kind of tough to watch.
Dusty: Yeah, but it was an amazing experience to watch it with the cast. We were at the Hard Rock Hotel in Miami. Lulu and Lala put on one heck of a shindig. It’s amazing. It’s somber it’s over, a little bit of a relief that everyone knows now. I don’t have to keep hiding this from everyone. A life-changing opportunity. Things like this don’t happen to guys like me. Not the outcome we wanted, but just so blessed to be able to do this with Ryan.

Gold Derby: That was a rough final leg from the start with the elevator. What went wrong there? You kept reading the clue, but it wasn’t clicking for you?
Dusty: It’s unbelievable. Elevators, rocks and cheese will haunt me forever now, like literally. Maybe see-through canoes as well. They’re up there. All we wanted was to start at the same time. We were super confident going into it. Prior legs, if we started in the first group, good things tended to happen. We really expected to win “The Amazing Race.” We feel like if we ran it again, Cayla and Raquel would win a season, we’d win a season, Penn and Kim would win another season. Our motto was to run it 70 percent calm, cool and collected, and I think it just got away from us immediately. When we saw the two lockboxes open, it was dead to rights. We couldn’t figure it out. It was so simple yet so hard. It’s gut-wrenching to know something like that can snuff you before you even get going. But it is what it is. “The Amazing Race” is a humbling experience. To get crippled by something so simple — I mean, we’re inside of the hotel. What are we doing?

SEE ‘The Amazing Race’ winners Kim and Penn explain how she knew the final task would be a visual memory challenge

Gold Derby: And you guys never saw anyone after that. How long did you spend there?
Dusty: Something “The Amazing Race” has taught me is that when things are going well, you think it’s going way faster than you really are, but when things are going back, you’re not going as slow as you think you are. I would have to think that Ryan and I were there for an hour to an hour and 15, 20 minutes. Kim and Penn, and Raquel and Cayla got out of there in 20 minutes, I’d say. Kind of a feeling of dread because you can’t mess up with these two teams. They are savages. It was who was gonna run the cleanest leg in the finale. Penn and Kim ran it. We had our stumble in the beginning. Sitting with Raquel and Cayla last night, watching that ending — girls, I love you. Gut-wrenching to watch. You had it! But that’s the race. One thing can take you out, and Kim and Penn just didn’t make mistakes.

Gold Derby: In one of the bonus videos, you go all the way down to the lobby and you couldn’t ride back up to the 32nd floor because you need a key, so you had to ask someone at the hotel.
Dusty: It was awful. And that was completely my doing! I was like, “Ryan, there’s elevators inside.” You see us read the clue 50 times. It was something to do with an elevator. You weren’t allowed to look over the edge of the building. That’s something I don’t think a lot of people know. We just never were patient enough to wait for an elevator to come to the top. So I was like, “Ryan, it must be inside. Let’s go.” Lo and behold, we’re stuck inside the lobby for 25 minutes with no key to get back up. I was pleading and begging with the employees there and I finally got someone to let us back up.

Gold Derby: How did it feel when you realized you rode the elevator instead of just looking out on the rooftop?
Dusty: I mean, if you see it, I’m literally standing there like, “Ryan, is this it? This is it, isn’t it?” I mean, like a moron, if I’m being honest. We squandered this over a number on an elevator. It was relief, for sure. OK, we’re not going to be here for three and half hours. Rewatching it and knowing everything that happened, we ran such a perfect leg after this. We were flawless. Better than everyone after this. It was just one thing got us out. And to know how close we actually finished behind second place, it’s just… [Sighs]

Gold Derby: How far behind were you?
Dusty: Just 20 to 25 minutes behind the girls. Talking to Cayla and Raquel, I think they made it there with a 15-minute lead on Penn and Kim. Man, the red and yellow candy wrapper got them.

Gold Derby: I liked when you guys got to the mat and you asked who won. Who did you think had won?
Dusty: At this point, with the way Raquel and Cayla were running … they played the perfect race and it all came together for them at the perfect time. I was for sure they won it. But I wasn’t surprised at all that Kim and Penn won it either. Again, if we ran this race 10 times, I think each of us would win it three times and we’d see who gets the tiebreaker. I really believe that and I think the other cast members would say that as well. It was Penn and Kim’s day.

SEE ‘The Amazing Race’s’ Raquel and Cayla reveal what they ‘literally lost sleep over’ after the final leg

Gold Derby: You guys were a very strong team, especially at the beginning, and teams were scared of you. You never finished lower than fourth. How do you look back on that?
Dusty: A lot of people are like, “15 minutes? That’s nothing.” When you’re racing against Raquel and Cayla, and Kim and Penn,  15 minutes is two hours. It was good. We ran a heckuva race. I’ll be honest, when we were through Switzerland, I was thinking, “Ryan, we could be the best team ever.” [Laughs] We were like one or two every time. Could we have the best placement of all time? I think we looked it up and it was like 1.97. It felt good. The fourth place is a stinger because it’s a non-elimination leg, but thank goodness because you never like it when it happens to another team, but when it saves you, it really brings this thing full circle.

Gold Derby: The last couple legs, you guys were in the rear a little. In the penultimate leg, you kept missing the doorknob. Why did you have to pain the doorknob and no one else did?
Dusty: Watching it, I never noticed it. But now I see on Twitter that there’s doorknobgate. I don’t know why we had to paint the doorknob. I have no clue! And no one else had to pain theirs. Theirs were over to the side. I think it was that. It was dumb luck we picked the wrong door with the doorknob in the middle. Our painting was by far the best and the most beautiful! It looked like Van Gogh did it! What could possibly be wrong? Again, thankful for Ryan. He was like, “Dusty, we’re micro, we gotta look macro at this.” So we stood back and Ryan goes, “Dude, I think it’s the doorknob.” And I scream, “Oh, it’s the doorknob!” And he gets really mad at me because Arun and Natalia were next to us, but it turns out they didn’t even have to paint the doorknob. Very interesting. It is what it is. “The Amazing Race” — 30 percent of it is luck.

Gold Derby: What was it like racing with Ryan and spending this time with him? You guys obviously missed almost 10 years together and then production was delayed for 19 months.
Dusty: The most life-changing thing was spending time with him. Our goal was to win. We didn’t go into it to lose. But our main objective was, “Ryan, let’s make sure we spend as much time together.” I’m starting a new life. I moved to Colorado, I have a child. Ryan is starting a new career in real estate. I just know these opportunities won’t present themselves again unless there’s unfinished business! Our bags are packed. I’ve said it to everyone if you need us, we’re ready. My bag is sitting in my house, ready to go.

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