EXCLUSIVE: Race to Survive: New Zealand’s Rhandi Orme and Ashley Paulson Dish on Their ‘Gnarly Scars’ and ‘Hard Conversations’

Rhandi and Ashley racing through a field on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Brian Finestone/USA Network via Getty Images

A wise woman once said, “A good set of lashes can fix anything.” It’s true, but unfortunately, perfectly applied eyelashes couldn’t save the Cool Moms from elimination on the latest episode of Race to Survive: New Zealand. Rhandi Orme and Ashley Paulson were the last to make it to the finish line in Race 3, so they were whisked away in a helicopter back to civilization without the $500,000 grand prize.

Throughout Race 3, we watched Ashley struggle to overcome an injury to her ankle. It brought them down to a snail’s pace, but somehow, they still managed to cross the finish line. How is that even possible?

The dynamic duo chatted with Reality Tea about the incredible moment when they crossed the finish line and the tough conversations that got them there. Plus, we got a surprising update about Ashley’s “floppy, fat foot.”

Crawling to Survival Camp

Rhandi and Ashley cast photo for Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Patrik Giardino/USA Network

After Ashley injured her ankle, it seemed like it would just be a matter of time before they tapped out of the race. We already saw two other teams leave the race due to injuries. It seemed like the Cool Moms were on the fast track to the same fate. However, Ashley felt determined to stay in the race, even if it meant crawling to Race 3’s finish line.

“Every time I was able to sleep and wake up, my ankle felt a little bit better for a while,” Ashley recalled. “And we don’t know the next challenge they’re going to give us. What if it’s all kayaking?”

Meanwhile, Rhandi said that her main focus was making sure that her teammate made it home in one piece. After all, this is just reality TV. No one wants to sustain a long-term injury — especially not a professional athlete.

Rhandi explained, “It was really really important to me that Ashley knew that us being on the show wasn’t worth her career or a life-altering injury.”

“I didn’t want her to feel like she just had to keep going for me. We were definitely really vulnerable and real with each other,” Rhandi recalled. “I’m super grateful for our friendship and the love that we have because we were able to have hard conversations.”

Ultimately, when the ladies did manage to cross the finish line, they had the unwavering support of all of the other contestants. The rest of the survivalists took time away from snacking on river creatures to celebrate Ashley and Rhandi crossing the finish line.

Rhandi reminisced, “I will never forget the love and support and the camaraderie that we shared. They knew that Ash was very injured and they just finished the same course that we did, knowing that her ankle was [swollen], so they got it.”

An update on Ashley’s ankle

Ashley Paulson on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Daniel Allen/USA Network

Of course, we asked about the status of Ashley’s ankle, which, on the racecourse, she said they affectionally called her “floppy, fat foot.” While some of the injured cast members sought immediate treatment in New Zealand, Ashley opted to head back to the United States.

“When I got home, I went to a doctor. They did an MRI, and they saw that the tendon was completely torn,” Ashley revealed. “I had surgery about a week later.”

At first, the procedure seemed like it would be a simple fix. However, it turned out to be a little more complicated than she thought. They had to make a nine-inch incision and reattach the tendon using cadaver tissue.

Fortunately, Ashley quickly recovered from the surgery without any complications, and she confirmed that this saga hasn’t impacted her racing career. She broke a record in a 100-mile race six weeks later and would happily jump at the opportunity to do another season of Race to Survive Rhandi. Essentially, the only thing lingering from the New Zealand injury is the scar.

Ashley added, “The scar is gnarly. I love the scar it reminds me of New Zealand every time I look at my foot.”

Making Race to Survive a family affair

Ashley and Rhandi riding in a canoe on Race to Survive: New Zealand
Photo Credit: Daniel Allen/USA Network

Rhandi and Ashley have many superpowers, and throughout the show, they made it clear that motherhood was one of their biggest. Their communication, empathy, and problem-solving skills on the racecourse can all be attributed to their mommy duties.

Now that they’re back home with their families, they shared how the show has brought them all together. They watch along with their kids, and of course, being on TV has made the Cool Moms even cooler. For example, Ashley said that even her college-aged kids are getting their friends to watch Race to Survive.

Rhandi added, “It’s been really incredible to watch as a family unit.”

“I have five kids, and they range from age 4 to 17,” Rhandi continued. “I think one of the really cool things about Race to Survive is it brings all ages and all walks of lives together because there’s a really incredible cast, and even though we’re so different, there’s probably someone we can relate to.”

Race to Survive: New Zealand continues on USA Network, Monday nights at 11/10c.