Thus the issue with the Harvard Nerds mentality - they keep spouting get rid of the strong like we did last week while not realizing there are a number of ways to be strong. Yah, brute strength can help when you need to drag something up a mountain, but not when you need to shop for items in another language, figure out how to cook, eat a bug, read a clue properly, etc. "Get out a strong team" is a strategy that can be played out midway through the race once you realize who is strong.
Re: the clue - I'm pretty sure it said "keep your items with you until you need them". So while it didn't explicitly state 'those items you literally just had in your hands', I think it was clear enough that, if actually read and focused on, would make sense but if skimmed, would not.