By Alan Pergament


The 30,000 mile journey through 10 countries for Buffalo newlyweds Katie and Max Bichler had an all-too-familiar ending Sunday on “The Amazing Race” for local sports fans.

The newlyweds were bridesmaids, finishing second to the $1 million winners – professional hockey players Bates and Anthony Battaglia – in the competition that was taped last fall.

“Exactly,” said Max Bichler, discussing the Buffalo curse Monday in a telephone interview. “A Buffalo ending. No Goal. Wide Right. And now Wrong Briefcase.”

Bichler was referencing the key moment in Sunday’s two-hour finale on CBS that ended the Bichlers’ recent dominance in the Emmy-award winning reality show competition. After cruising to their third straight victory in the opening leg Sunday, the Bichlers fell out of first place in the final hour after Max was unable to quickly spot the phony spy who was going to exchange briefcases that contained the next clue. It wasn’t easy to find him since 50 potential spies were walking around with briefcases.

By the time Max found the guy who knew a secret phrase that revealed he was the spy, the Bichlers were overtaken by the Battaglias, who were lucky enough to find their man with a briefcase first. The Battaglias maintained the lead through a few more challenges to win the $1 million first prize.

“Yeah, it was all chance,” said Max, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. “I asked every single person I ran past. It was not as if I missed him. That was it, 100 percent. There was no catching up after that.”

Katie didn’t look pleased while Max was looking for the matching spy, at one point calling her husband “an idiot.”

“I could see the $1 million slipping through our fingers,” said Katie before the Nardin Acadmey graduate explained her reaction in the heat of the battle. “Your reactions are so out of control because of the pressure, stress and the Adrenaline, you don’t mean half the stuff you say.”

Part of the enjoyment of the show is listening to the competitors saying funny things. Max had his share of amusing commentary when Katie had to swim through a muddy bog in Scotland for a challenge, noting that his wife prefers tanning on the beach.

“Not so much swimming,” said Max. “Not so much swimming in a bog.”

When he initially thought he and Katie were going to have their picture taken with President Obama rather than a cut-out of the president, Max noted that he was a Republican for at least the second time in the series. “I thought we’ve got big problems if the president has time to talk to reality TV people,” Max said on Monday.

The Bichlers, who postponed their honeymoon to compete on their favorite TV show, didn’t go away empty-handed. For winning the third leg Sunday by using their smarts, they added a week-long trip to a resort in the Dominican Republic to their previous winnings of two new cars and $20,000.

The Bichlers couldn’t hide their disappointment Sunday when they talked to host Phil Keoghan, but they tried to sound upbeat. On the show, Max said “the race really enforced that we are a really, really solid power couple and when we put our minds together we can do some really great things and I think in life we’re going to continue to do some great things.”

In the Monday interview, they acknowledged their disappointment for themselves and for their families.

“Second place wasn’t what we wanted,” said Max. “We were especially disappointed for our family watching Sunday. We had months to cope with it.”

Now they have months to decide where and when to take a real honeymoon. Katie said the Buffalo weather is so nice now that they may wait until their first anniversary in October to go on a honeymoon to a spot they visited briefly during “The Amazing Race.”

“We’ve love to go back to Bora Bora,” said Katie.

Presumably, the tanning will be great and there are no muddy bogs to swim through there.