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The Amazing Race’s Aubrey Ares and David Hernandez Reveal They Were Alternates, Announce Engagement Before Premiere (Exclusive)

From alternates to racers! Aubrey Ares and David Hernandez weren’t supposed to be on the final cast for The Amazing Race season 34 but they got two hours’ notice before they were on their way to Europe to compete for the $1 million prize.

The dance studio owner and helicopter mechanic, both 29, who met while he took one of her dancing classes six years ago, exclusively reveal to Us Weekly that they were originally alternates for the long-running CBS series. After following up on an Instagram message they received from a producer – and going through the entire casting process – they were told they didn’t make the final cut.

Aubrey Ares and David Hernandez Amazing Race
Kit Karzen/CBS

“We went through so much work. We went through so many auditions. It was very intense,” David exclusively tells Us, with Aubrey adding, “And nerve-wracking because you’re literally sitting in front of all these CBS producers … but come to find out, we actually didn’t make the final cast, but they asked us if we would like to be alternates.”

She didn’t love that idea at the time. “She was having a little moment,” David says. “She was like, ‘No, I don’t want anything to do with it anymore. We didn’t make it. It’s over.’ And I was like, ‘No, we already went through the process. We’re already here.’”

Related: 'Amazing Race' Scandals and Controversies

A few weeks later, they got a call while they were on their way out of town and “in the middle of LA traffic,” Aubrey explains. “And I was like, ‘David, turn around, turn around!’”

Since they weren’t expecting to be racing – and had just a few hours before they had to travel to the starting city of Munich, Germany – the couple “had to stop at Target to pick up last-minute things,” Aubrey says. “We didn’t have a watch. We didn’t have certain things because I started sending things back since we weren’t going on the show.”

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Sonja Flemming/CBS

Once they were in Munich, “that’s when we actually had like a moment to process everything that was going on because we were in the car, she was on phone call after phone call after phone call,” David tells Us. “We just throw everything in our bags. We get in the car, we get to the hotel. We still have to get checked by security. And then once all of that was finally done, we were like, ‘What just happened?’” Aubrey adds, “We sat on the bed. We were like, ‘Holy crap. We’re on The Amazing Race.’”

The pair credit being alternates as an advantage “because we were automatically the underdogs,” Aubrey explains. “We had to come in and kind of catch up throughout the entire process. So that was definitely one of our strategies through the show.”

Related: ‘The Amazing Race’ Winners: Where Are They Now?

As for their relationship, Aubrey thinks competing brought them closer together. “We were tested to points that we had never been tested before,” she tells Us. “We were under stress together. I have stress at my job. He has stress at his job, but we’ve never had to work through stressful times together. And us being three years into our relationship, we’re in that point in our relationship where it’s like, ‘OK, are we ready for the next step? Are we ready to get married and start a family together?’ … I think the race definitely grew us stronger. We came back understanding each other better. And I think more in love.”

David & Aubrey TAR 34
David & Aubrey. Julia Mokhnatkina

Coincidentally, a few days after this interview was conducted, David proposed to Aubrey in Central Park in New York City.

“Aubrey and I are extremely excited to start this new chapter of our lives together!” David later told Us. “We are ready to dance down the aisle!”

The Amazing Race season 34 premieres on CBS Wednesday, September 21, at 10 p.m. ET.

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