On a cool spring day last April, Christiana Rugloski raced across 50 miles of Brazos Bend State Park, about 40 miles south of Houston.
Rugloski, then 21, didn’t know it, but that race would be a factor leading to her selection for The Titan Games, a new show on NBC hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“For the first 25 to 30 miles I held a good pace, but then I got slower,” said the Lake Jackson resident who finished the run in just under nine hours. “It’s the hardest I’ve pushed my body.”
The Titan Games, which premiered January 3, pits competitors against one another in weekly challenges to retain their status as a Titan. New competitors will be introduced each week. Rugloski, the youngest female competitor and a horse-riding clinic assistant at a therapeutic farm, could not divulge which episodes she would be featured on, but we caught up with her in the days leading up to the premiere to talk about the show, her fitness journey, and what comes next.
Tell us about your work with horses.
I work at Horses for Life in Angleton, and I’ve been there for a year. When I grew up, I didn’t do any sports, but I was outside all the time, and when I was old enough to work I wanted to work with horses because I’d always loved them. Horses are very intuitive, understanding, and sensitive creatures. It’s really neat to find the connections people can make with them, and that’s maybe easier than connecting with humans.
How has this work prepared you for the challenges on The Titan Games?
It’s a very active and physically demanding job. I’m out there working in all kinds of weather, whether it’s hot or cold; I’m moving heavy things and constantly moving. I really appreciate the work because I have a hard time sitting still. It’s helped getting into sports and competing later in life. Just in the past couple of years, I’ve seen a huge benefit in having an active lifestyle.
What made you apply for The Titan Games?
A friend of mine thought I should apply. I started doing obstacle course races a couple years ago, like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. I happened upon [obstacle course racing] and appreciated it as a well-rounded sport. You can’t just be strong, and you can’t just be fast. I started going to Grit Fitness (in West Columbia) and started training with one of the owners there. Then I heard about The Titan Games. I sent in an application, and my trainer said to plan on it not happening. They called me back, and I really did not expect it.
What was competing like?
We went out to Los Angeles for two and a half weeks in September. Competing was a huge, overwhelming atmosphere with a big crowd and huge challenges. All the other competitors were amazing. I felt privileged to be competing with incredibly gifted and hardworking people. There was a wealth of knowledge and experience. We had no idea what to expect. Training-wise, there was no way you could actually train. That added to the excitement. Right before the event we were told what it was.
Did your experience with obstacle course racing give you an advantage?
I found that being in obstacle course racing, we’re running on the trail, and everything around the sport is so unpredictable. So much of it is quick thinking and moving effectively through all kinds of challenges, so I felt like that gave me an advantage over other people.
How was working with Dwayne Johnson?
It was the coolest thing ever. He was very genuine, very friendly. On camera he’s working hard, but he still puts the time in to talk to us. Every time I tried to be cool, but then I was like Oh, he just talked to me.
What’s your next fitness goal?
I have a lot of big goals for next year. I’ll be doing a 100-miler this August, and at the end of the year there’s a 24-hour obstacle course endurance event. You can never dream too big, and you can never set goals too big. Take advantage of every opportunity you get. That’s the only reason I got on [the show]. Never say no to pushing yourself, stretching yourself, doing things you never thought possible. I always want to be pushing myself for something.
Where will you be watching the premiere?
I will be watching the premiere at my gym. We’ll have a whole watch party. That’s the gym that found me and made me.
You can follow Rugloski throughout the competition on Instagram at @krisrugloski.