”f*ck it why not”: Exclusive with Race Across the World finalist

With the grand finale of Race Across the World putting an end to the journey last night, contestants James and Betty found themselves crossing the finish line in an impressive third place. Messy was lucky enough to catch up with James, a fellow 20-something who still has no idea what is coming next.

James Mukherjee, 21, signed up as a contestant on the BBC TV show with his sister Betty, who filled out the application form last minute on the day of the deadline.

‘’I just thought, f*ck it why not, and I think that applies to anything in life”, James told us.

Surprisingly, brother and sister duo soon found themselves flying to Japan for the start of the race.

This year, the show challenged competitors to race from the northernmost Japan, to Lombok Island in Indonesia.

Contestants had no access to phones and had a limited budget of £1,390 to get them across nine countries.

James and Betty agreed that as brother and sister, if they had arguments while taking on the challenge it wouldn’t really matter, as they would always come home as family.

What have been your highs and lows of the show?

”I think for me, losing the money and for Betty losing her passport. But, I do think we dealt with the second one better because of the first one. Some of the transport was absolutely shocking and I hated it”, he said.

”But as far as the good bits go, the homestay in Cambodia was a big one for me. I never really imagined myself enjoying it as much as I did. We are so comfortable in our fixed ways and the way we go about our routine, but their way of life is so different. Moving in with a new family for a whole day was quite hard, a tough thing, but they were so nice.

”All the people we met were such a joy and helped us in whatever way they could. The highlight of the whole thing was the people”, James says.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

‘‘I think just to try and enjoy everything, we sort of rushed through it at the start for the race, but then spent a lot of our budget and had to work to get it back. Vietnam for example, we didn’t get to see it, James said.

I think it relates to everything in life, whether you’re at University or at work, I’d say squeeze every little drop out of every opportunity.

James is a firm believer of the fact that everything happens for a reason, and if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

One particular moment that stood out for viewers of the show, was episode 7, which saw siblings James and Betty open up about Betty’s experience living with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKH).

BBC iPlayer – Race Across the World – Series 4: Episode 7

Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKH) is a rare condition that affects the female reproductive system.

Betty shares her experience with the condition, which effects 1 in 5000 women, on her Instagram ( @bettymuk_).

We are part of a generation that is becoming more open and more in speaking about our mental and physical wellbeing, and having more people being vulnerable on our screens is undoubtably a step in the right direction.

Thinking back to that episode, James said : ”That’s the most natural I’ve ever reacted to anything in my life, I fully just started crying and I couldn’t control it. I hate cameras and TV and being recorded, I’m usually the person who doesn’t want to be in the group photo. But the support we’ve received and the congratulations has been amazing”, he says.

”It’s disappointing a lot of people think the show is staged or fake, but it’s the most natural and raw thing I’ve ever done or seen in my life. Everything you see is so us, the show brings out the personalities of the people actually on it”, he says.

Since he has been home, James says him and Betty have found themselves coming to each other more when they need someone to speak to.

James’s mindset also changed since the race, and wanting more independence he has moved out from home.

Have you picked up any advice for being in our 20’s?

Our 20’s is a stereotypical time in our lives, and many of us feel stuck with what path to follow next.

”Life is too short to let it drift by, if you want to do something do it, if it upsets other people f*ck it”, James tells us.

”I mean, I know I have no idea what I’m going to do. When I was younger, I thought I was going to do cricket and sport, but once that gets taken away from you, you feel a bit lost”, he says.

”But it’s fine to feel like that, and it’s not wrong to be lost and feel like you’re in a bad place. We’re all human, we all have feelings and that’s important to remember. The race really taught us that, there were times where we were so upset, so frustrated and we just didn’t want to carry on”, said James.

So, despite successfully travelling across nine countries, on a broadcasted TV show to the entire country, even James admits even he doesn’t have it all sorted out – but that’s all a part of being in our 20’s.

For more atm content, click here: atm – Messy (jusmedia.co.uk)

To learn more about MRKH, visit : MRKH Connect – Lifelong Connections Start Here

James Mukherjee’s Instagram : @Jamesmukherjee1