Race to Survive: New Zealand episode 5 recap: The best episode yet!

RACE TO SURVIVE: NEW ZEALAND -- "Deep, Dark, Holes" Episode 205 -- Pictured: (l-r) Ashley Paulson, Rhandi Ohrme -- (Photo by: Brian Finestone/USA Network)
RACE TO SURVIVE: NEW ZEALAND -- "Deep, Dark, Holes" Episode 205 -- Pictured: (l-r) Ashley Paulson, Rhandi Ohrme -- (Photo by: Brian Finestone/USA Network) /

Race to Survive: New Zealand episode 5, “Deep, Dark, Holes,” hands down is the best episode so far for the competition series that continues to push the limits of its contestants. While they’ve had to traverse strenuous, rocky terrain that’s resulted in multiple injuries, the third leg of the race introduced a new element–a cave!

Gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe the scenes that take place in Zone 2 as the teams descended into the cave’s depths and then had to make their way through it, in one passage on their belly crawling through a tight space. Unfortunately, as intense as this episode was particularly in the race between the Top 3, this was yet another episode where a team had to self-eliminate. And, no, it wasn’t Ashley and Rhandi despite the injured ankle the former has been contending with since the second leg of the competition.

Who went home on Race to Survive: New Zealand episode 5?

Coree Woltering and Jeff Watterson make their way down a hill while carrying their packs.
RACE TO SURVIVE: New Zealand -- "Eels, Heels and Deals" Episode 204 -- Pictured: (l-r) Coree Woltering, Daniel "Jeff" Watterson -- (Photo by: Brian Finestone/USA Network) /

Coree Woltering and Daniel "Jeff" Watterson

While the ultramarathoners tried to persevere after Coree fell and hit his head when they were getting ready to leave the first food cache at the start of the race, they ultimately had to bow out. In my interview with the team, Coree explained that he’d sustained a concussion when he fell during the second race of the leg. Due to the nature of the competition, there wasn’t enough down time between when he’d hit his head and when they had to get up and go forward with the next leg, hitting his head again exacerbated the issue.

As he’d mentioned in his video package for the episode, he and Jeff had already made a pact that they would return home in one piece. It was obvious as Coree tried to push and carry on that he would be doing more harm than good to his body if he didn’t call it. So he made the best decision for himself and his health. It’s just unfortunate since the pair had been doing well and holding their own in the race.

Team rankings ahead of episode 6

Race to Survive: New Zealand - Season 2
RACE TO SURVIVE: NEW ZEALAND -- "Deep, Dark, Holes" Episode 205 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tyrie Mann Merrill, Ethan Greenberg -- (Photo by: Brian Finestone/USA Network) /
  • 1st - Oliver Dev and Spencer "Corry" Jones
  • 2nd - Ryan Stewart and Bronsen Iverson
  • 3rd - Ethan Greenberg and Tyrie Mann Merrill
  • 4th - Paulina Pena and Creighton Baird
  • Placement to be determined - Rhandi Ohrme and Ashley Paulson, Nikola "Nik" Milutinovic and Kennedy Taylor

The MVPs of “Deep, Dark, Holes” were Ethan and Tyrie. The smokejumpers had landed in last place after they shot past the first food cache in Zone 1(Forest Run) and had to circle back. They had to make up a lot of ground but once they got past the cave and entered Zone 3 (The Green Maze) they blazed a trail past their competitors with an excellent nav through the difficult terrain.

While Oliver and Corry’s recovery of first place wasn’t as dramatic, the river guides still used their wits impressively to overcome Ryan and Bronsen who were the only team to skip the first food cache. The two friends used geofences to cut a path through Zone 3 that added two extra miles to their trek but proved effective as they arrived at the checkpoint for Zone 4 (Boulder Canyon) before anyone else. 

The problem, however, was that they had reached a dark zone and could not move forward with the next portion of the race because there was not enough time left on the race clock to safely clear it. This forced Oliver and Corry to set up camp and they were later joined by the other Top 3 teams. Their one leg up was that they would be able to enter the canyon 5 minutes ahead of their competition as entry would go in order of who arrived first.

With the father/son-in-law duo and the smokejumpers hot on their heels, the river guides raced through the canyon to the kayaks for Zone 5 on day 2 of race three. It was a tense dash that I can’t wait to see continue to play out as the teams are virtually neck and neck.

Paulina and Creighton waged their own comeback after a falling out over losing their pole position to Ashley and Rhandi because they lost a foot race to the cave checkpoint. Once again the two argued, this time because of the way Creighton spoke to Paulina after she failed to touch the checkpoint before her competitor. She pushed to get to the bottom of what was going on because Creighton had been snappish for awhile.

He admitted that running the race has been difficult because they don’t work well together. But it’s also been emotionally taxing because he’s been thinking about how this could be the last thing they ever do as a pair since they’re divorced. That’s been tough to sort through on top of the stress of the competition though he did acknowledge this is a pretty cool way to close out the chapter of their lives where they were a couple.

With the air cleared, they pushed ahead and wound up passing Rhandi and Ashley who were slowed down by the latter’s continued troubles with her ankle. “Deep, Dark, Holes” was emotional for Ashley as she pushed through the pain of her injury to continue the race but began to wonder if she was jeopardizing her racing career by competing through an injury.

She and Rhandi had a serious talk about the possibility of having to tap out but a decision has yet to be made. In the closing moments of the episode, they were up against Kennedy and Nik for placement heading into Boulder Canyon. Kennedy was trying to pass Ashley to touch the checkpoint where Nik was waiting for her but she fell pretty hard in the process. 

We didn’t get to see which team touched the checkpoint first so their rankings are up in the air until they’re revealed in episode 6. Next week’s installment of Race to Survive: New Zealand should be a nail-biter. See you then for another recap! Stay tuned to Hidden Remote.

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