TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum is encouraging Tulsans to take advantage and get behind the Great Raft Race.

Bynum said the Arkansas River is “the defining natural asset that we have here in Tulsa.” He hopes people will come out and support the race, even if they aren’t participating.

The mayor also announced he will be one of the people entering the race. He hopes to do well in the race, joking that the symbolism of him on a boat could be troublesome.

“It’s a high-risk thing for an elected official to be in a boat out here – the symbolism, if my raft sinks, is dangerous,” he said.

Bynum said this one event shows what could be the future of the river when it can be accessed every day of the year.

Race Director Seth Erkenbeck also made several announcements Friday regarding new and returning elements to the race.

First, Erkenbeck announced this year will see the return of the sand castle contest. He said it was a big part of the race in the 80s and 90s and was even featured nationally on Good Morning America.

He said they are bringing a world champion sand sculptor who will make a Tulsa-themed sculpture at the after party.

This year will also feature a rental zone, where people who want to participate in the race can sign up online and will receive an inflatable raft or kayak.

Also this year, the race is hosting a STEM Challenge where 10 schools will be selected to participate.

Erkenbeck said they are partnering with American Airlines for the project and said engineers will go to the schools to help students build the rafts.

He said the STEM Alliance is also creating a curriculum to help students further understand the building process.

To register for the race, or to sign up for any other programs, you can do so online.

The last day to register is August 15.