Character is not made in a crisis—it is only exhibited.

—Robert Freeman

And how!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what I have found most interesting while watching the fifteenth season of The Amazing Race:  how humans react under pressure.  When life squeezes you to the nth degree, then whatever you're made of—whatever is truly at your core—rises very quickly to the surface.  And sometimes that's not a pretty picture.

As I have pointed my finger at others this season, of course there have always been three (and a thumb) pointing right back at me.  I've just commented on what I've observed and how I've interpreted each week's events.  But maybe what I haven't blogged about is how it's caused me to ponder my own circumstances and how I would (and do) react when under pressure or caught in unfavorable and uncomfortable situations. 

I know that I lash out, too.  I'm not as kind or compassionate to others as I should be when I am in the grip of a life squeeze.  And I imagine had I been racing through 8 countries in 21 days and traveled more than 25,000 miles that I might have been a little cranky, treated others poorly at times and been short-tempered, too.

But … had I won the $1 million prize … now that would have been a different story, right? 

So let's get to it.  Who did win in last night's finale?  Well, don't hold your breath any longer, ‘cause you've probably already guessed it.  It's the team who was consistent and kept the bar high, week after week after week.  Yes, Team All American (Meghan and Cheyne) were the first to cross the finish line in the last leg of The Amazing Race 15.

But during the final episode, it really was anyone's race to win.  And challenge to challenge, we were all kept wondering what the outcome would be.  Here's a mini rundown of what happened:

• VIVA LAS VEGAS … In Prague, Czech Republic, where teams finished last week's leg, this week's first clue pointed to Las Vegas, Nevada.  All teams were on the same flight from Europe back to the States, and once there, teams had to travel to the Graceland Wedding Chapel where "Elvis" handed them their next clue.  All teams arrived at the same time, heard a little "'Amazin' Grace," got the next clue and then scurried back out the chapel doors to their waiting taxis.

 CLIMBING MT. MANDALAY … Next up:  "Make your way to Mandalay Bay."  Or, in other words, "Who's ready to climb down a mountain?"  Yikes!  Teams had to rappel face-first 600 feet down the side of the Mandalay Resort hotel/casino building.  Yep.  And you'll never guess who came in first in this challenge.  Ericka from Team Jungle Fever!  Unbelievable.  But this team's too-good-to-be-true lead didn't last for long …

• IT'S ALL AN ILLUSION … After the rappelling challenge, the next clue said:  "This desert has only one mirage.  Go to it."  Teams figured out they should go to the Mirage hotel, and once there, the next clue instructed them to "join the cast of 'Love.'"  As in the Cirque du Soleil show.  One team member was hoisted in the air via bungee cords while the other stood on the ground and catapulted him or her through the air in efforts to swipe a flower bouquet that was hanging from the rafters.  And this is where Ericka had her biggest meltdown of the entire season.  To call it a temper tantrum would be putting it mildly.  Cursing, accusing, screaming, kicking her feet and lashing out at husband/teammate Brian … well, this was not her finest hour.  And unfortunately, her outburst-ing and lack of focus allowed Team All American to get back into the lead.  (Team Bro also bickered a little during this challenge, but were able to get it together and pass up Team Jungle Fever.)