After 17 seasons, The Amazing Race crowned its first all-female team champs: doctors Nat Strand, 31, and Kat Chang, 35. "I just think it's hard for any team to win The Amazing Race, whether you're an all-male team or all-female team," Kat tells TVGuide.com. "I think some of our strengths were just that we've actually worked together before in stressful situations, [being] sleep-deprived. You just have to have a positive attitude too. We're also really lucky!" They were also very well-prepared for the final leg in Los Angeles. Find out what kind of research they did, what they plan to do with the $1 million and more.
TVGuide.com: Congratulations! Did you think about making Amazing Race history from the outset or were you focused on one leg at a time?
Nat: Kat and I were just focused on one leg at a time. We were under the strategy of "don't get eliminated." We knew we could potentially be the first female-female team to win and we loved that idea. But we didn't start thinking about that until the last leg and that was the first time we actually looked at each other and said, "We have to try our best to win this thing." It still pretty feels pretty surreal.
Kat: We had an idea, but as they showed, we had some traffic getting to the Pit Stop, so we had no idea if the other teams took another route. It wasn't until we were running up and didn't see any other teams there that it became more real! ... [We weren't in traffic] for too long. We both live in the L.A. area, so we're familiar with the L.A. traffic.Nat: I was 99 percent sure we were first, but that 1 percent really feels like a lot.TVGuide.com: Did being from L.A. help?
Nat: You know, there was nothing in the leg that living there gave us an edge. I mean, Jill and Thomas are in L.A. too and Brook and Claire spend a lot of time in Southern California. I think we all felt a little comfortable knowing it was Los Angeles.Kat: Actually, we did more research for L.A. than we did for any other leg. We didn't want to be overconfident about it. We actually already had phone numbers for the port of Los Angeles, just any landmarks in Los Angeles — and we hadn't been to any of those places ourselves. We just wanted to be really, really prepared.Nat: When I was on the phone, I was talking to the L.A. city tourist bureau. I have to thank them! They were really helpful!
Nat: Yes, we were on the phone with them multiple times. Them and 411. ... At first the lady said she was very busy and couldn't help, but I pleaded with her a little bit. She said, "OK, what would you like me to Google?" [Laughs] "Sancho Panza's master." She was like, [pause] "OK." ... People at home are like, "How did you not know that?!" But in the moment, when you're so tired after that many weeks on the race, you really don't know anything. Somebody could've said "what's two plus two?" and I would've called 411.Kat: We actually had three numbers for the travel bureau because we wanted to make sure, so we'd double-check with another office to make sure the information we got was correct. We were very meticulous!TVGuide.com: You blew through the memory task before any other team got there. How detailed were your notes?
Kat: We had very detailed notes of every single Detour, the order every single person came in on every leg. We didn't have what the greeters looked like. I think the thing that made it hard was that the pictures were blinking and changing on the screen, so even once you started scanning a row, it changed.
TVGuide.com: Some fans think you shouldn't have been allowed to use notes. What do you think?
Nat: I think most teams have a notebook of some sort. At this point, everybody knows there's a memory challenge. Brook and Claire had a notebook, Jill and Thomas had a notebook. ... We could've done it without [the notes]. It didn't take us that long, probably 10 minutes.
TVGuide.com: You both had to overcome some big obstacles: Kat, eating the sheep's head being a vegetarian, and Nat, bungee-jumping with your fear of heights. Did you ever hesitate doing either?
Kat: We both went into the race obviously having seen all the past seasons, so we knew what to expect. We said if it was a Roadblock, the other person would do it, but if it was a challenge both of us had to do, we were just going to do it. We came in with the right mindset. We did some meditation and visualization, all types of stuff to prepare us.
Nat: I think that's one place where our training actually helped us. ... Kat and I are used to being in uncomfortable situations and just keep going. Quitting has never been an option. I've been uncomfortable so many times during training, doing things that I've never done before. Nothing has been quite as terrifying as that bungee-jump! But I think we are used to pushing ourselves beyond what we're comfortable with.
Nat: It was really difficult. I mean, definitely doable and that's why I wanted to do it. I think the best part for me since the race is getting all these emails from diabetics' parents, saying [I'm a role model for their kids]. Kat and I probably had half of our pack filled with diabetic supplies, which meant we couldn't have some other things that we would've wanted. I had some low-blood sugar issues a few legs and had to eat something extra and wasn't as sharp mentally as I would've been. All in all, Kat and I tried to plan for it ahead. It was a pain in a butt, but it definitely wasn't an obstacle.TVGuide.com: What are you going do with the money?
Kat: We're looking at each other, like, "Oh yeah, the money!" [Laughs]Nat: We would like to donate some of it. We haven't quite decided which organization yet, but we're looking at some medical research, and obviously for me, diabetes research. We've talked about doing something for challenged athletes or immunizations for children. We're kind of having a lot of fun talking about where that part is going to go. I think for the rest of it, we probably should be responsible and pay back some of our loans!TVGuide.com: What are you up to now?
Nat: I actually was still in training during the show, so when I got back, I graduated a few weeks later. Then I moved to Newport Beach and joined a private practice there where I do chronic pain management.Kat: I've been at my same job for about a year and a half now. We're just doing our regular daily jobs, being doctors!