The Sneaky Way Derek Xiao Trained for ‘The Amazing Race 34’ While Filming ‘The Challenge: USA’

Reality star Derek Xiao had quite a busy year, going from The Challenge: USA to The Amazing Race Season 34 almost immediately after. Competing in two physical/mental game shows back-to-back sounds like a challenge in itself, but the Big Brother 23 alum felt confident he could tackle both. Of course, achieving this meant some overlap in training for both shows. In a recent interview, Xiao revealed the sneaky way he prepared for The Amazing Race while competing on The Challenge: USA.

Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss on The Amazing Race Season 34
Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss on ‘The Amazing Race’ Season 34 | Kit Karzen/CBS

‘Big Brother 23’ stars Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss will compete in ‘The Amazing Race’ Season 34

Big Brother fans will recognize Xiao and his partner, Claire Rehfuss, from season 23, which premiered in July 2021. The two announced after the season ended that they were in a relationship. According to the couple, they “connected” with each other very early in the show.

“I think that we both really felt the chemistry once we got to jury house and could really connect with each other. We would stay up late talking every single night, and we just really developed a bond,” Rehfuss told Us Weekly in October 2021.

Now, Xiao and Rehfuss are returning to CBS for The Amazing Race Season 34, which premieres tonight, Sept. 21. They’ll compete against 11 other teams in a race around the world, including stops in Germany, Spain, Austria, Italy, France, Iceland, and Jordan. Along the way, Xiao and Rehfuss will have to complete various physical and mental challenges to uncover clues about their next location.

Derek Xiao and Claire Rehfuss went through an ‘Amazing Race’ bootcamp even while Xiao filmed ‘The Challenge: USA’

Before Xiao and Rehfuss embarked on their amazing race, Xiao jetted off to Argentina to participate in season 1 of The Challenge: USA. He competed against various other CBS reality show alums, including cast members from Love Island, The Amazing Race, Survivor, and Big Brother.

In another interview with Us Weekly, Xiao said he had “ambitious plans” to do both The Challenge: USA and The Amazing Race. However, he and Rehfuss had a lot of training to do for their race, and The Challenge: USA cut into that time. So, he snuck in a little language study while in Argentina to prepare for his time in Spain.

“I was like, ‘I really need to learn Spanish,'” Xiao said. “Any time I was talking to a local production person, I was like, ‘So I know this is how you say it in English, but would you mind just, like, translating that in Spanish? I’m just curious for myself.’ And I would always write down the translation.”

The ‘Big Brother 23’ couple went through a ‘bootcamp’ for ‘The Amazing Race’

Beyond Xiao’s Spanish studies, he and Rehfuss spent whatever time they had together training for The Amazing Race in other ways. They went through a “bootcamp” orchestrated by Rehfuss’ parents. That included learning new languages, how to drive stick shift, how to read a compass or map, and more.

“We had a rented car. They would literally blindfold us, put us in the back of their truck, drive us off to a random location, and then give us a map and be like, ‘OK, now you guys need to make your way back home,'” Xiao said.

The Amazing Race Season 34 premieres tonight, Sept. 21, at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Tune in every Wednesday to find out if Xiao and Rehfuss’ extensive training paid off.

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