World Rodeo Champion, Marlene McRae, LCC Alumna of the Year

The list of accomplishments is impressive for Marlene McRae, formerly of eastern Colorado and graduate of Lamar Community College. She started riding horses when she was five, and by age 13 won the All-Around Cowgirl Award in her first Little Britches competition. McRae continued in competition events, going on to win the Colorado State High School All-Around Champion trophy before attending Lamar Community College.

“It was a situation of look and learn,” she said this past Friday, May 6, as she toured a campus different from the one she attended in 1976. “We just had a barn back then, with only 20 horses, and I literally learned by watching others perform and practice,” she added. McRae was also an accomplished musician and toured in and out of the country until she made the decision to pursue a rodeo career full-time. It paid off.

Since then, she’s been the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion Barrel Racer and has been a five time champion of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. Her dedication to rodeo earned her invitation to the 1988 Olympics and two gold medals in barrel racing and team competition. Another pinnacle in her career was her induction to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1995, along with Dale Evans.

McRae said, “It’s been a rewarding career, but it’s also a lot of hard work, minus the glamour some people believe it to be. Instead of traveling by jet, you’re riding in a truck to different competitions. You’re always on the go and only the top 1 or 2% really enjoy a glamorous life-style.” She credited her family for aiding her during her rodeo career, from her mom and dad in her early years and her son who has logged thousands of miles behind the wheel of a semi, getting her to and from competitions. She and her husband, Doug, own a retail mail order business, “World Champion Designs”, which sells equestrian related products.


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