Sunday was a million-dollar day for a Madison couple.
Well, to be accurate, that winning day was sometime in December, but Madison's contestants in the CBS show "The Amazing Race" were officially revealed as the winners when the season finale aired Sunday night.
On their way to victory, Dave and Rachel Brown scaled skyscrapers in Honolulu and paddled their way twice across a pond while standing on a surfboard-like raft. The couple won eight legs in all, making them the most successful team in "The Amazing Race's" 20-season history.
"It was even more exciting (than winning in December), because we could actually talk about it," Rachel, a project manager for Epic Systems, said in a phone interview Sunday night.
In the "The Amazing Race," 11 teams of two race around the world for about 25 days, completing challenges along the way. The teams lagging behind are gradually eliminated. Rachel and Dave entered Sunday's two-hour finale as one of the final four teams.
Their journey, which took them to five continents, nine countries and 22 cities, wasn't without hiccups.
The win was in doubt when the Browns arrived at the final destination, only to be informed by host Phil Keoghan they had missed one obstacle.
"We thought he was kidding," said Dave, who is in the Wisconsin Army National Guard and served in Iraq. "We were under the impression that there was just one roadblock."
Coincidentally for a couple of Wisconsinites, the contest came down to bowling skills. After running into another team at the missed obstacle, Rachel had to roll a stone down a dirt field into a makeshift goal. After only a few tries, she came up with a strike.
"Dave and I were actually in a bowling league at Schwoegler's one year and we were terrible. We were one of the worst teams in the league," she said.
The couple, both in their early 30s, spent Sunday watching the finale with a group of other teams and meeting with members of an "Amazing Race" fan club in New York. They were scheduled to do media appearances today before returning to normalcy.
Rachel said she is flying to Seattle on a business trip this week. Dave is returning to UW-Madison, where he is an assistant professor of military science with the ROTC detachment.
The couple agreed that between Rachel's business travel and Dave's military deployment, being together throughout the competition was one of the most rewarding aspects.
"Just being with each other 24/7 was awesome," Dave said.