1st Phorm Monster Games to bring more than 800 athletes to Joplin in July (2024)

One of the largest competitive fitness events in the nation — the 1st Phorm Monster Games — kicks off July 12 at Missouri Southern State University, with more than 800 athletes matching their strength, stamina and speed against others, some from as far away as Italy and Brazil.

Director Jason Ansley said the games allow competitors to display their talents in an environment that celebrates the individual athlete.

“I named it Monster Games because there is that monster inside of us all that can sometimes overtake us or we can overtake it,” Ansley said. “Are you going to tame that monster, or is the monster going to tame you?

“It’s about doing things that make you nervous and stretch you a little bit,” he said of the competition. “If you’re not nervous, you’re not living. I think it creates a better way of life.”

Ansley said the three-day event begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 12, with a swim at Schifferdecker Aquatic Center.

“We’ll have 820 athletes out at the pool, off-site,” Ansley said. “We’ll get through more than 800 athletes at the pool in about four hours.”

After the swim, athletes exit the pool and go for a run, stopping to lift heavy sandbags in Schifferdecker Park. From there, athletes go to MSSU’s Leggett & Platt Athletic Center for the remainder of the games.

The competition features eight scored events, including swimming, lifting, running, pull-ups and handstand walking.

Ansley said the competition has added a shooting event with air rifles that will take place at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

All athletes had to earn their spot in the Monster Games by competing in an online qualifying stage in February.

“We had 1,700 athletes apply, and we brought 800 here,” Ansley said.

The athletes represent 40 states and eight countries, including Canada, Mexico, Italy and Brazil.

Just 10 athletes from the Joplin area qualified to compete this year. Three of those 10 are from one family: Chelsea Cross qualified in the women’s elite division, and her husband, Marcus Cross, and their son, 14-year-old-Jace Cross — the youngest competitor in the games — qualified in the lower divisions.

Ansley said there are numerous divisions depending on ability and age.

“We have the elite divisions, which is the cream of the crop,” Ansley said. “That’s a very limited sliver of people that we could call elite. Then it basically stages down from there.”

He said there are numerous individual divisions and four team divisions, and the athletes range in age from 14 to 60. Winners in the masters division, ages 35 and older, qualify for the national championships in Tempe, Arizona. The Monster Games are the only in-person qualifier for The Legends Winter Championship, which will be at Arizona State University in December.

Athletes in each division who finish in the top three spots earn a share of a $28,000 purse.

But it’s not just the winners who benefit financially from the games. With more than 800 athletes — many of whom bring their families — the event is a boon to the Joplin economy.

“It’s about a $2.2 million economic impact to Joplin,” Ansley said. “The 800 athletes typically travel with 2.5 people each. They all stay three nights and some stay four, so you have a really good base of people that are staying in the Joplin community, eating, drinking, hotels, Airbnb, all that stuff.”

The games also benefit charitable organizations, with 100% of ticket sales going toward a charity. The event in the past has benefited organizations such as Joplin-based Rapha International and Black Box International. Ansley said this year’s recipient is God’s Resort in Joplin. He estimated the event will raise close to $15,000 for the charity.

All costs associated with the event and all prize monies awarded come directly from the athlete’s entry fees.

This year marks the seventh straight year for the Monster Games in Joplin.

Spectator tickets for this year’s event can be purchased before July 1 for a discount through Eventbright. Advance tickets are $40 for three days or $15 per day; entry will be $50 for three days and $20 a day after July 1.

Ansley’s wife, Heidi Ansley, is co-director and said the games are a great way of showing the larger Joplin community all the things competitive athletes can do.

“It ranges from beginners to the elite of the elite,” Heidi said. “It’s incredible to see the gamut and the age variances. It’s incredibly motivational. They are all trying to do something outside of their comfort zone. It’s fun to watch people do what they didn’t think they could do.”

Heidi said the event is not possible without the help of more than 100 volunteers, including 40 judges who come from as far as California and New Jersey to help. The games get the bulk of their help from two local gyms, Midwestern Built in Carthage and Joplin.

Jason said the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Joplin Sports Authority have helped the Monster Games flourish.

“They have been great partners for us,” he said. “They help us feed our volunteers, help us with facilities, they help us with hotels and getting restaurants lined up.”

1st Phorm Monster Games to bring more than 800 athletes to Joplin in July (2024)
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