Megan Leatham, the 28-year-old director of operations for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, grew up in Colorado Springs with a love for sports. She played Division III basketball in college and still has such a passion for hoops that she coaches the Rampart High School girls team and is the general manager for Southern Colorado Basketball. In her role as the only full-time employee handling every detail of the city’s signature auto race, she has been able to combine her sports background and her can-do personality to prepare for the biggest hill climb event ever. With fewer than 100 days left before the event, she has her hands full.

What interested you in the director of operations position for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb?

I have always had a passion for sports and event planning. Having the chance to combine two of my passions made this opportunity something I did not think twice about.

With fewer than 100 days left before the race, what are you doing to prepare?

At this point, we are working hard to finalize all of our plans and put everything in place. Merchandise, ticket production, volunteer coordination, parking plans, media credentialing, marketing, etc. are all areas of major focus. We also want to make sure that the spectators have all of the information they need to attend the race on July 8. Due to the unique venue where the race takes place (Pikes Peak), spectators need to be well informed so they know what to expect on race day.

Are you particularly interested in any of the entrants in this year’s race? Which ones are you looking forward to watching?

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I am excited to watch the electric division to see how the cars and new technology compete on the highway now that it is fully paved. We have eight cars signed up to compete in the Electric Division and the 2011 record breaking competitor, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima will have an electric car in the Unlimited Division.

Tell us about why and how the race has grown?

The PPIHC has been in operation since 1916 and I am proud to be a part of this historic event. The 2012 running plans to be one of the best events in the race’s tenure. This year is the 90th running of the event and is the first year that the PPIHC highway will be fully paved. There is a buzz surrounding this year’s race and I constantly hear Tom Osborne, Chairman of the PPIHC Board of Directors, say, “This race is on fire.”

Tom’s comment is proven evident by the number of competitors who have signed up for this year’s race. In 2011, registration was cutoff on June 1. For this year’s race, registration closed on January 31st and due to the number of competitors, a qualification procedure will be implemented to limit the field on race day.

The media coverage over the past few years has also helped propel this race to a new level. PPIHC is lucky to work with the Senior Media Consultant for the Sports Corporation, Mike Moran.

You’re a very athletic person. What other sports are you involved with or interested in?

Sports have and will continue to play a huge part in my life. I played Division III college basketball and still cannot get through a day without running, lifting, playing pickup, or attending yoga class. I credit athletics for helping me become the person I am today and the life lessons I’ve learned through sports were crucial to my character development.

Because of the impact that sports have made in my life, I continue to try to give back to others through sports. I am the head girls basketball coach at Rampart High School and enjoy working with and coaching high school players. Go Rams! Additionally, I am the General Manager of Southern Colorado Basketball. SoCo Basketball operates a youth basketball league in Colorado Springs each spring and fall. Our spring season starts on April 6th and we have 150 teams signed up to play eight games in five weekends (followed by a tournament).

What unique challenges and opportunities do you think young professionals have in Colorado Springs?

I personally have been fortunate to work with talented young professionals during my working career in Colorado Springs. There is no doubt in my mind that Colorado Springs is crawling with young professionals; it just takes networking and connections to find everyone who is out there.