Thousands of cyclists are expected to take over the streets of Tulsa this weekend for the 13th Annual Saint Francis Tulsa Tough.
Eric Brunner and his team are in town from Boulder, Colorado, and it is their first time experiencing Tulsa Tough.
“It is a really well-known race,” said Brunner. “Everyone I talk to says it is a pretty tough race and I have to get ready for it, so I’m pretty pumped.”
Over the past four years, the race has grown by more than 1,000 entries.
This weekend, folks from 25 states and 45 countries will be in Tulsa.
“I saw a social media post of a team of riders from California left yesterday and put stuff in a van and said, ‘we are on our way to Tulsa, baby!’” said Malcolm McCollam, executive director of Saint Francis Tulsa Tough.
Saint Francis Health System held the annual kick-off event Wednesday and says Tulsa Tough is a perfect event to be part of.
“When we really began 13 years ago, who would’ve known it would become almost iconic,” said Jake Henry, Jr., the President and CEO of Saint Francis Health System. “For us as a health system, it really speaks to not just being about sick care, but about well care.”
And, of course, Sunday is Cry Baby Hill, which is one of the first things Brunner heard about.
“I hear that Cry Baby Hill on Sunday is one of the hardest hills on the U.S. criterium circuit, and I hear it’s the craziest party at any bike race,” Brunner said.
Andy Wheeler, one of the race organizers, says, “we coordinate with police and EMSA and be responsible adults. We used to be part of the problem, but now we are trying to stem the tide and be responsible and have a good time.”
The criterium kicks off with the first races Friday night, with the start and finish line downtown on 3rd Street just east of Elgin.
The festival fun opens up at 5:00 p.m.