Ryan Rettke won the special four-stunt Fear Factor. Read what he had to say about cow brains and high-beam balance.
What was your first impression of your competitors?
I knew that everyone would have to be taken seriously in this competition, so I knew everyone was a tough person to actually make it on the show. I didn't overlook anyone. Based solely on first impressions, I thought Carrie and Jessica would be my toughest competition.
Which one of them surprised you the most and why?
During the first stunt Erin definitely made a statement. I knew from that moment that she was going to be my competition. She rocked the first stunt. No one even got 3 dummies and she got all the way to the 4th one (even though she didn't get it out to the raft). Way to go Erin!
I was really surprised at Carrie since she gave up after only one dummy.
When did you find out you'd be doing 4 stunts, instead of three? How did you feel about that?
I found out we were doing 4 stunts at the beginning of the 2nd stunt.
When I found out we were having 4 stunts, I was thrilled. I wish I could have stayed out there for a month and done a hundred stunts! I love competition. I hope they have a champions' Fear Factor and invite me to participate. I would be thrilled to be able to do it again.
Why do you think the first stunt was so difficult? Was it hard to hold your breath?
I was really excited when I saw the first stunt. I have a little bit of a swimming background and I felt pretty comfortable underwater. Going 3rd I knew I only needed 1 dummy in a little less than a minute. So once I accomplished that I slowed down a little, but I still wanted to get all 4 to send a message to the others. When I was coming out with the 2nd dummy, I drilled my head on the top of the bus just like Ross did. I was a little disoriented but refocused. I went in looking for the 3rd dummy but was not able to see it anywhere. I went underwater a few times, but I still couldn't see it anywhere. I knew I was moving on, so at that point that was all that mattered to me.
What was tougher...drinking the vile liquids (stunt 2) or chomping through the cow brains (stunt 3)?
Drinking to the vile liquids was by far the grossest thing I have ever done. The smell, consistency and taste were completely rancid. I have a bad sense of smell but you could still taste and feel the texture in your mouth. Even when I slammed it down my throat I could taste it and gagged big time, but I wanted to win the trip.
The cow brains actually weren't that bad. The spinal fluid itself was far worse than the brains. I was in a zone doing that stunt. I was just biting into the brains looking for the yellow discs. Sometimes when you would bite into one you would come across something hard and I would have to double check to see if it was a disc or just part of the brain.
Did you throw-up after either stunt?
No I didn't throw-up, but I wished I would have. I know both Jessica and Ross threw-up right away. By the time I realized I should probably get it out of my system it was too late. The next day wasn't that fun if you know what I mean!
Were you disappointed that you didn't win the trip to Brazil?
I wanted that trip to Brazil bad. My best friend and I have always talked about going to Brazil. I did that stunt as fast as I could. I knew I beat Jessica's time as soon as I finished and I felt really confident in my time because I felt I couldn't do it any faster. Ross really stepped up and did this stunt in a ridiculously fast time. After I heard his time and knew that he beat me I was literally in a state of shock. I couldn't believe his time. Looking back maybe I could have shaved off about ten seconds, but I still would not have beat Ross's time.
You jammed on the final stunt! Did you have a strategy going in? Did you have any existing fear of heights?
I wouldn't say I have a fear of heights, but any time you are 9 stories up in the air walking on a beam about 8 inches wide you are going to have some hesitation. When I actually stepped out on to the beam and was waiting for Joe to tell me to start, my legs were trembling so bad I didn't think I would be able to do it.
I knew going first I had to set the bar so high that it would freak out Jessica and Erin enough so that they would start doubting themselves. My strategy going in was not to even think about the fact that I was that high in the air and just to keep focusing on the next flag. When I was actually doing the stunt, I wasn't aware of anything except the next flag. I didn't hear Joe, the other contestants, or wasn't aware of the fact that I was dangling 9 stories in the air. All I did was concentrate on the next flag, then the next flag, and then the next flag. When I grabbed the last flag it was the biggest rush of adrenaline I have ever experienced. My whole body was pumped full. I knew I had a great time that was going to be hard to beat. I only had two hesitations during the stunt. I lost my balance in between the 1st and 2nd beam and right at the end grabbing the last flag. I figured that Jessica and Erin could only go as fast as me and if they were to beat me it would come down to fractions of a second.
What will your students think of you now?
I think a lot of my students only see my in the classroom being a science "nerd". They don't get to see the competitive, crazy, athletic side of me. When they see that I won, I think they will have a new respect for me. They all have been extremely excited about me being on and not a day has gone by that one of them hasn't asked me if I know the air-date yet.
$50,000 can buy a lot of science books. Any big plans for the cash?
Well, I have a motorcycle, but I have always wanted a bad-a$$ one. This might be my opportunity to do that. I have a little debt to pay off from making improvements to my house. I also plan on taking a nice trip to somewhere exotic sometime in the future (Hope you have fun in Brazil, Ross). We'll see. I have some time to think it over.
I definitely want to thank every one at Fear Factor for this opportunity and am hoping that there is a champions' Fear Factor in my future.