Although Laura Morris has been the XTERRA Pan Am Champ for two years in a row, she isn’t returning to Utah this year to defend her title.
“I love that course,” said Morris. “I know I won last year and the year before that, but I wasn’t trying to win. The only reason I go to XTERRA Nationals is because it’s so much fun!”
As the 45-49 age group champ, Morris doesn’t go to Snowbasin with any expectations, either.
“I was a competitive runner for ten years,” she explained. “And then I started to slow down. That was tough. So I did a short stint in triathlons, but I didn’t really like it.”
Morris is a pharmacist, and when she was in her late thirties, a friend at work suggested she try mountain biking.
“I loved the other athletes,” said Morris. “I loved the atmosphere at the races. And I love that mountain biking makes me think. You are constantly thinking. You just can’t check out.”
Morris, who lives and trains in Costa Mesa, California, was mountain biking with her friend Diana Greenwood, who suggested they try XTERRA Laguna Beach in the fall of 2015.
“We were like, ‘Let’s do this!’ Of course, I had to get back in the pool. I’m a terrible swimmer but I really enjoy it. And we ended up having a great time. I mean, it’s the three sports I love the most.”
Morris and Greenwood swim in the ocean at least once a week and in Greenwood’s pool at least two other times a week, putting in about 2000-2200 yards at a time.
“I double up about twice a week swimming and running and swimming and biking. I usually get up at 5:30 and get a good one to two hours in. I work from 10:30 until seven. Then I come home and eat and go to bed every night. I know you aren’t supposed to do that, but that’s how it is.”
For a while, when Morris was training for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race with her husband on a tandem, she was strict about her diet.
“We had to be as light as we could to get up to the top of the mountains,” she explained. “But it was too much. We were riding about eight hours at a time on the weekend. And when we got married, I had bones sticking out of my chest. That’s another thing I love about XTERRA races. Girls with a little more back can really kill it on the trails.”
During the week, Morris eats well to fuel her training. “But on the weekends I kind of blow it, which is fine. You gotta have a life.”
She and Greenwood both have a particular affinity for Popeye’s chicken. “When we found out Ogden had a Popeye’s, we didn’t even go back to our room after the race,” Morris admits. “We ran to Popeye’s.”
This year, Morris will be returning to the XTERRA National Championship, but she isn’t concerned about defending her title. “I’m just there for the course. The ride is perfect.”
As to whether she will be at the XTERRA World Championships – for which she has already qualified twice – Morris is more ambivalent. “Maybe one of these days I’ll save my dollars and go.”
Morris is equally mellow about what happens on the course. “Yeah, you’re going to fall. You’re going to crash. But it’s OK. You’ll get over it.”