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Socially savvy team vies on 'Race'

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COURTESY: CBS - Portland-area native Zach King and wife Rachel will be watching The Amazing Race as fans after participating in the reality show.When Portland-area native Zach King and wife Rachel auditioned and then earned a spot on the 28th season of “The Amazing Race,” they only had one big concern: How would their marriage hold up?

Well, it survived, and thrived, they say, as “The Amazing Race” two-person teams get ready for the next airing of the 21-day globetrotting run — and flight, drive, cart ride or whatever — through multiple challenges in multiple locations throughout the world. It already has taken place, with the season-ending live show taped. Obviously, the Kings cannot say how they performed on the show, but they spoke in glowing terms about their experience.

It airs on Friday on CBS, and ensuing Fridays.

And the couple, now living in Los Angeles, got along fine, they say.

“We watched so much of the ‘Race’ before, we were scared. We saw newlywed couples and dating couples fighting and arguing,” Zach says. “We were nervous. We talked about it, saying we don’t know how stressful it’ll get, but we have to be patient with each other. ... We knew it would test our marriage, but it grew our marriage. Learning when and how to communicate proved to be really important.”

Adds Rachel: “We had been married less than a year, and we hadn’t had that much time to do life together as a couple. It was very fresh in our marriage relationship. We definitely grew as a couple.”

Indeed, contestants had to interact with one another for up to 21 days — no electronics, computers or cell phones allowed. The Kings can’t talk about destinations visited, except that the 28th season started in Mexico City, and the show journeyed to locations around the globe at its typically fast pace.

The Kings are looking forward to seeing the show, because they scrambled during their challenges on the ground (or sea or whatever) and don’t get the landscape and wide-shot views that TV watchers do. One of the appeals of “The Amazing Race” is showing the beautiful scenery, people and culture of the locations.

“A very high-adrenaline experience,” Rachel says. “That’s what makes it so exciting, so fun to watch and participate in. You don’t get those experiences in day-to-day life.”

Rachel, 25, hails from McHenry, Ill., and Zach, 26, from Wilsonville. He attended Wilsonville High and was sometimes home-schooled; his family owned land for berry farming at the Wilsonville-West Linn border near the Canby Ferry. He also stayed active by hiking, often in the Columbia River Gorge. Zach attended film school at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., outside of Los Angeles.

They both had traveled extensively, although admitted to some travel fears before the show’s taping.

“Language barriers and getting ripped off,” Zach said, in his online “Race” bio. Added Rachel: “Getting lost by myself in an unfamiliar country.”

Well, they returned safely to L.A., although the show contained some “simple language barriers” that threw them off, starting in Mexico City.

“What did we sign up for?” Zach asked himself, as he and Rachel ran to meet host Phil Keoghan at a Mexico City monument. “How are we going to communicate with everyone?”

The contestants in the 28th season had social media backgrounds, and Zach and Rachel run an online film/video business — Instagram, Vine, YouTube, etc. — and Zach claims about 19 million followers. It’ll certainly help the show’s promotion, featuring social media pros.

“They were casting for social media people this year, that’s why we got the invite,” Zach says. “I had talked with Rachel a few years ago about if we should apply. We never pursued it. It was our childhood show.”

We’ll have to see whether they stay alive in the show, pursuing the $1 million top prize.

“We still love each other after all this,” Rachel says.

For more on “The Amazing Race”: www.cbs.com/amazing_race.