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USA Insider Race to Survive: New Zealand

Oliver and Corry Explain the Shocking End to Their Race to Survive: "A Cloud Over Our Heads"

The dominant white water river guides looked like they were in the lead to win this season ... until the big twist. 

By Tara Bennett
No Preparation for Hunger: Race to Survive: New Zealand E8 Highlight

Spoilers for Race to Survive: New Zealand Episode 8

Race to Survive: New Zealand, USA Network's competition survival series, often inspires gasps. Be it the landscape of the race legs, the difficulty of the individual challenges, or the competitors' personal injuries, there's a lot to yell at your TV about.

How to Watch

Watch new episodes of Race to Survive: New Zealand Mondays at 11/10c on USA Network

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Arguably, the biggest "What?" of this season occurred toward the end of Episode 8 when the series producers collected the teams still competing and revealed that white water river guides Oliver Dev and Spencer “Corry” Jones would be disqualified due to a rules violation. Earlier in the competition, a starving Corry killed an animal to eat on New Zealand's no-kill registry. The penalty would be eviction from the race right before the start of Survival Camp 4. 

USA Insider got on a Zoom with Oliver and Corry to discuss their dominant game up to that point, what happened when they were told the news, and their plans for the future. 

Oliver and Corry Dominated from Race 1

Race to Survive: New Zealand contestants race on land in Season 2, Episode 1

While Oliver and Corry were already long-time friends before the show, they admitted they didn't think they would be as strong as they turned out to be race leg after race leg. 

"The first day we did this shoot in the beginning on the traditional canoes and that's the first time we ever saw any of the other teams," Corry said. "We really did not know how we were going to stack up. There was all this anxiousness and nervousness and kind of competitive angst about the whole thing. Then I remember coming into the pack raft finish on Race 1 and Oliver's like, 'If nothing else, we have this!' And then it happened again. And then it happened again. It was surprising, honestly."

"I was like, 'Oh my God, these people look like actual athletes,'" Oliver added. "I was so nervous that the night before that, I didn't even eat dinner. And that was like one of my biggest regrets. I was like, 'God damn, I missed that food! I should have eaten!'"

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Assessing their overall performance, they do credit their navigation skills as helping put them ahead time after time. "That was something I took on and it went really well for me," Corry said. "Honestly, there was one mistake that was inconsequential that didn't really get shown. But other than that, nav went really well. I think it did put us in a position to be very dominant. Especially in Race 3 in the green maze, we had this two-hour lead on our most competitive rivals. 

"The other part where we got ahead was in transition," he continued. "Oliver and I were very decisive and very methodical, intentional with how we packed our bags based on that day's transition, whether it be pack raft, kayak, climbing, whatever. I think that was something we really put a lot of thought into and for a lot of this race, big chunks of time were won in transition."

The River Guides vs. The Smokejumpers

Closeup of Tyrie Mann Merrill and Ethan Greenberg in Race To Survive: New Zealand Season 2, Episode 1

By Episode 6, it was clear the biggest rivals to Corry and Oliver's race were the Smokejumpers, Ethan Greenberg and Tyrie Mann Merrill. Oliver confirmed that's how they saw it too when they were on the ground racing. 

"There were times, like the first race when we both were going up for that food cache on the ridge, and that was one of those times using our transitions," Oliver explained. "We had made a plan before we even started up that hill and we just kept their pace. They ended up having to unpack their bags to split the food bag. But we were able to basically use one of the rules to our advantage. When Corry opened the food bag, I was already ready with my pack open. We just shoved it in and then we could just keep going and that's how we got to the canyon before they did."

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Corry said they also had the benefit of long-established trust in their outdoor adventures. "Having had this relationship and this friendship field tested here in Wyoming, we knew how we would function in a lot of these challenges," he said. "This is what we do on our days off.

"We also stayed really composed," Corry continued. "And that was something we had talked about together quite a bit, is how we would be in transition, how we would be going from foot to kayak, or foot to pack raft, or onto the road challenges. We stayed really composed. We managed our time well in those transitions. And even when we got direct pressure from the Smokejumpers, we were usually pretty easily able to drop them again."

What Happened Before Oliver and Corry's Disqualification?

Oliver Dev and Spencer "Corry" Jones appear in Race to Survive: New Zealand Season 2, Episode 4

Having done so well through more than half of the 150-mile race, Oliver and Corry were clear favorites to make it to the ultimate finish line first. But then that dream disappeared when instead, the team was taken off the course for the field violation of killing a no-kill native New Zealand species. 

When did they get the first warning that act might come back to haunt them? "Before Race 4, we were told that there would be a decision made — an outcome essentially — dropped on us at the end of Race 4," Corry explained. "About halfway through the race, after the co-steering challenge, Phil, [a crewmember] who you see in the scene, mentioned that we would know at the end of the race what the outcome of this decision was going to be. I posed the question to Phil like, 'Come on, man. Like, give me something?' He couldn't meet my eye and couldn't speak. And that's kind of when I felt like I knew. From there to the end, I think we slowed down."

Oliver concurred, "We kind of raced that last bit with a cloud over our heads."

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Considering how well they did in every leg, would they do it again knowing their potential now?

"It's a question we get asked a lot," Corry answered. "Obviously, ending it in this way has been super, super difficult. If Oliver would have me back as a partner, and this opportunity presented itself again, and it wasn't in New Zealand, I would probably say yes."

Keep watching new episodes of Race to Survive: New Zealand every Monday on USA Network at 11 p.m. ET/PT!