10/29/2012 06:07 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2012

'The Amazing Race 21': Devastating News From Home Only Strengthens James' Resolve (VIDEO)

This week's two physically grueling challenges proved how much "The Amazing Race" pushes these contestants' bodies to the limits. It also pushes the emotions of the players to their limits, especially since some teams have pre-existing relationships. But for James, a connection from home was pulling at him the hardest.

He revealed that his father was battling cancer before he'd come on the race, and that he and his teammate Abba received a troubling phone call before setting off on this latest leg. James' father had been determined to be in Stage 4, with no chance of remission.

But rather than give up, James only pushed that much harder, with the full support of his family behind him. He and Abba took advantage of the two-hour lead their Fast Forward in the previous leg gave them and turned in another first place finish, well ahead of the other six teams. If there isn't an equalizer soon, they could run away with it. And James said the support from home and the determination to make his father proud are only spurring him on to fight even harder.

The remaining teams battled excruciating heat and suffered through a very tough leg. In the end, Ryan couldn't find any joy in a second place finish -- he wanted to beat the record of eight 1st place finishes -- although his partner was very pleased.

Josh and Brent wound up coming in last, only to find this was a non-elimination leg. After all their hard work, it looked like they were partly hoping their struggle was over, but they vowed to keep forging ahead, and trying to make up some ground.

The journey continues on "The Amazing Race," Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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