I grew up around sports – my dad was a high school coach (football, basketball, and baseball) and I went on to play college golf and was part of the women’s basketball team (my freshman year we won the Div III National Championship). I got my degree in elementary education but chose to pursue a career as a golf professional. After 13 years in the golf business, I was burnt out and ended up moving into the motorcycle business, doing marketing, event planning, and running the motorcycle school at a Harley-Davidson dealership. While working at the dealership, I missed being competitive, I missed being an athlete and that’s when I found OCR.
In 2009, I ran my first race, the Chicago Muddy Buddy. I was instantly hooked. I ran a few local races and a Warrior Dash in 2010 and 2011, when I discovered Spartan Race at the end of 2011. I did my first Spartan, the Midwest Sprint in Oct 2011 and 3 days later I had major knee surgery (microfracture). I was on limited activity for almost a year, rehabbing and determined to run the 2012 Midwest Spartan Race, which I did. A few weeks later I road tripped to Boston for the first Spartan Stadium race and never looked back. In 2013 I spent most weekends racing – I finished 20 Spartan Races, got a quadruple trifecta, completed 4 Hurricane Heats, finished 43 races/events that year, and at the end of the year I was in 1st place on the Spartan Race Open Leaderboard. While at these races, I always tried to give back, whether by volunteering or by sweeping the last racers. I got to know the racers and even the staff pretty well.
Prior to flying out to the 2013 Dallas Beast, Tommy Mac and Laura Plourde reached out to me to see if I would be interested in joining the Spartan Staff. Tom McCormick and I sat at the fire jump in Glen Rose for well over an hour discussing racing, staffing, and the potential of me making the switch from racer to staff.
I started working as support staff the beginning of 2014 while still working my job at the Harley dealership. Mid 2014 I quit that job to have more availability to work Spartan Races. Not having a guaranteed job and no full-time work was tough but I was able to do something I was passionate about so I did what I could to make it work. On Jan. 2015 I was promoted to Festival Manager, overseeing the festival operations for particular races. Then by mid-2016, I was moved into more of a production leadership role, Festival Quality Control, and Training, overseeing the onsite festival operations for all races. I was asked for the first time, back in 2015 if I had any desire to be a race director and at the time I didn’t. I didn’t feel I had enough overall knowledge of race production, especially when it came to the course and backend side of things. Then a few times in 2016, the subject came up again and by the end of last year after having a pretty in-depth conversation with someone in leadership, it was actually something that I was considering. It was the next step for me to take. In April of this year, I was formally asked to be the Race Director for the Atlanta 2 race – it scared the crap out of me, but also excited me – it was something out of my comfort zone and I was ready to take it on.
It was a great experience for me – learning all of the backend planning that goes into a race was eye-opening – from the site visit to google earth maps, to budgets, to rooming lists – there’s so much that even I had no idea about. Thankfully I had a great planning and production team to help me out.
Episode 77 – Missy Morris
Twitter Account? @cheeseheadproud