We first met Morgan last year when Scott participated in the Ironman 70.3 Branson. We’re thrilled to announce that Morgan has kindly accepted our invitation to participate in the TRIFEST for MS. Read her story below!
Q1. What was your path to become a professional triathlete?
My story is probably quite a bit different than most other professional triathletes. I grew up playing tennis and golf and was considered overweight until my junior year in high school. I also smoked cigarettes and had the nickname, “Chimney Chaffin”. The major lifestyle turning point for me was loosing my father and best friend at the young age of 45.
My dad suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and the bleeding was unstoppable. Saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. I turned to exercise and health as a way of coping with his loss. I started walking around a nearby lake and soon that turned into running and from that point on I started to take exercise and living a healthy lifestyle seriously. In 2005, I purchased my first road bike and cycled competitively from 2005 to 2008. I was in a bad road racing accident where I suffered a concussion, needed staples in my head, and broke my clavicle. From that point on, I was very hesitant about pack riding so I thought I would do my first triathlon. I was hooked!
Q2. If you weren’t a professional triathlete what profession would you pursue? Why?
I finished my masters degree in Exercise Science and was accepted to do my PhD, but decided I wanted to purse being a professional triathlete. If not for this opportunity I would have finished my PhD and sought out a faculty position in a health related field. I really enjoy exercise physiology and found conducting research challenging and exciting!
Q3. What cities or countries have you travel to or competed in? Any favorites?
My favorite race is Ironman Racine 70.3. I always have a lot of family there and it’s such a good time and the venue suits me very well! Last year, I kicked off the season with Ironman San Juan 70.3, but dropped out during the run due to hip pain. Later I found out I had a partially detached/torn labrum. I had a successful surgery last May and have fully recovered!
Q4. What is your favorite event of the three disciplines of triathlon? Which is your fastest?
My favorite is cycling and it’s definitely my strongest, but my swimming is getting close!
Q5. What are your goals for this year?
My goals are to finish top 5 in major triathlons/Ironman 70.3 events, set a new PR at the half distance, and to complete my first full Ironman.
Q6. What is your advice to someone participating in the TRIFEST for MS for the first time? What should the spectators look for from you and your professional triathletes?
Have fun, be confident in your abilities, and keep positive thoughts in your head the entire race to keep you moving forward! The spectators should look for good sportsmanship, friendly attitudes, and our willingness to share our stories and training tips.
Q7. Any race rituals or routines that you follow?
I don’t really have a strict ritual other than being prepared to race about a week out. I like to be ready to rock ‘n roll!
Q8. Last one, what is your motivation for attending the TRIFEST for MS and what are you looking most forward to?
I’m looking forward to being part of such a great cause and meeting the people that are associated with the Rampy MS Research Foundation. It’s great that an organization is reaching out and putting on athletic events to support MS, health and fitness.
Q9. How do you support your pro Tri lifestyle, do you have coach, sponsors, etc?
I also coach competitive youth swimming at a local community college twice a week. It’s very satisfying watching the kids improve both their stroke technique, speed, and endurance. I’m currently on the Snapple Elite National Triathlon Team and we have a variety of different sponsors that cover most of our needs: Champion Systems and SweatVac for apparel, Nuun and Accerlade for nutrition, HED wheels, Kswiss, Xterra Wetsuits, Rudy Project, etc. Immunotec also supplies me with a high quality protein powder (Immunocal Platinum) and liquid energy shots that have really been beneficial to my training and racing.
My bike sponsor this year is QR- I will be riding their new amazing development, the Illicito. In addition, I have the great support of a local bike shop, Phoenix Cycles, the guys there are great and their support has been amazing! I can’t thank them enough for helping me out with all my bike needs. Swim Bike Run St. Louis has also been a great partner. They have done a variety of things for me from professional bike fitting to getting me in the proper shoes to providing me with fitness and nutrition assessments. They have an expert staff when it comes to anything triathlon specific!