Skip to content

The Soccer Field to the Mountains: Leigh Gray’s Journey 

The Soccer Field to the Mountains
Leigh Gray
Next race: August 10th, 2024/Leadville MTB 100
Favorite gear:

For Ice Climbing: Arc’teryx Alpha SL Anorak

For Mountain Biking: GOREWEAR Lupra Windstopper by GORE-TEX labs Jacket

If you ever have the chance to chat with Leigh Gray, you’ll quickly realize that her passion for sports and the outdoors is truly contagious. As an Account Marketer at GORE and a former professional soccer player turned endurance athlete, Leigh’s life has been a remarkable journey of self-discovery. This determined pursuit of new challenges would take Leigh from the soccer field to the mountains. 

Her Next Adventure 

Growing up, soccer was Leigh’s whole world. She played the sport throughout her college years and even had the opportunity to compete professionally in Australia. But after retiring from soccer, she found herself searching for her next adventure. That’s when she discovered the thrill of endurance sports. “I did a through-hike in New Zealand, and that’s when I realized I really enjoyed pushing myself in a different way,” Leigh explains. “It wasn’t team sports anymore; it was a more individual challenge. And I loved it.”

World of Mountain Biking  

Upon returning to the United States, Leigh immersed herself in the world of mountain biking. What started as short rides quickly evolved into longer, more demanding adventures. Before long, she found herself signing up for the Leadville 100 MTB, a grueling 100-mile mountain bike race in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

You Against the Challenge 

“When I got the email confirming my entry, I was both excited and terrified,” Leigh recalls with a laugh. “It lit a fire under me to start training on a serious level.” For Leigh, transitioning from team sports to endurance events has been a significant adjustment. “In a team sport, you can rely on your teammates,” she explains. “But in an endurance race, it’s just you against the challenge. You have to figure it out on your own.”

Two More Minutes

However, Leigh’s background in soccer has also provided her with invaluable experience. Injuries shaped part of Leigh’s journey in soccer. “Knee surgeries are very common in women’s soccer,” she says. “Going through that taught me to push past the point where you want to stop. I know I can do anything for two more minutes.”


A New Skill Set 

As she prepares for the Leadville 100, Leigh is embracing the thrill of learning a new skill set as an adult. “It’s really fun to see the progression,” she says. “Even something as simple as missing an adult soccer game to go for a bike ride – that’s something I would never have done in the past.” Leigh’s journey as an endurance athlete is inextricably linked to her role at GORE. “A lot of my first outdoor experiences were because of the brands,” she explains. “I got to go ice climbing and mountain biking for the first time with GORE associates.”

Account Marketer

Now, as an Account Marketer, Leigh works closely with footwear and apparel brands, helping them integrate GORE-TEX technology into their products and marketing campaigns. Her firsthand experience as an athlete allows her to speak confidently about the products she represents.

Advocate for Sustainability 

“It’s easy for me to talk about the products because I use them regularly for all these outdoor endurance activities,” Leigh says. “I get to walk the talk.” Beyond her professional role, Leigh is also a passionate advocate for sustainability, serving as liaison between GORE’s market-facing associates and its sustainability team. “Make sure to wash your GORE-TEX Gear.”

Leadville 100 MTB

As she looks ahead to the Leadville 100 MTB, Leigh is embracing the challenge with a mindset that’s equal parts determination and joy. “It’s scary to try something new as an adult and learn a new skill set,” she admits. “But you won’t know unless you try it. And it’s okay to fail – I’m just trying to have fun with it and lean on the amazing community around me.”  For Leigh, that community – both at GORE and within the endurance sports world – has been a constant source of support and inspiration. From the soccer field to the mountains, Leigh’s journey towards new challenges has only begun.