GORUCK America: Tulsa Route 66 Marathon

GORUCK America: Tulsa Route 66 Marathon

I’ve known Michael Welborn since 2017. When I founded DFW Rucking Crew, he had already begun establishing Green Country Ruckers so we exchanged a lot of ideas and best practices as we both got our clubs operational. So when Michael invited me to be part of his marathon relay team for the Route 66 Marathon, I jumped at the chance.

I arrived on Saturday morning, shortly after Michael and his team had completed the Route 66 5K. They were enjoying breakfast at a local diner, and it was a great opportunity to meet a few of the folks who would be my teammates the next day for the marathon. And I was impressed to see how many murals decorate the downtown Tulsa area!

Afterwards, we drove over to see the Golden Driller statue, Tulsa’s iconic 75-foot-tall landmark depicting an oil worker. It was decorated to promote the Tulsa King series, but it was still cool to see in person what I saw in history books and maps as a kid.

Later that night, Green Country Ruckers and Blackout Rucking Crew gathered for dinner and pre-race fellowship. Both Ruck Clubs have a great group of weirdos, many of whom are also members of Team Red, White, and Blue (as am I). I handed out reflective GORUCK America patches, wished everyone well, and said I’d see ‘em out there on the course in the morning.

Sunday morning was cold and clear, in the low 40s; just brisk enough to need a jacket. In other words, perfect race weather. This event is HUGE, and the corrals span several city blocks, which feature an abundance of Art Deco murals and architecture.

There’s a lot of excitement and energy as everyone gathers for the stepoff. Some of our group were prepared to ruck the half marathon, others teamed up to complete the marathon relay, and four brave souls were determined to ruck the full marathon! As is the case with most events, the runners head out first and the ruckers are in the final corrals due to slower pace. Michael started for our relay team and I did the anchor leg.

There are a huge number of runners at this event, and the atmosphere at the start line feels like a big party. As each group was released, there were confetti cannons and music to set a festive mood. The community also comes out for this event and there are bands and groups of spectators cheering on the runners all along the course.

It was cool to see so many historic motels, filling stations, and buildings as I rucked along the race course. It’s easy to see why Route 66 remains one of the most famous roads in the United States and it’s loaded with nostalgia.

When it came time to ruck my leg of the race, I was delighted to find that a local brewery had set up a table on the course to hand out beer and jello shots! Ruck shuffles are always more fun with a little ACRT refreshment. I also rucked past the Center of The Universe, which is a concrete circle eight feet in diameter that happens to be an acoustic anomaly! Any noise made inside the circle will echo, but only those inside the circle can hear it.

I finished my leg and met my teammates Rob, Jaime, Jeff, and Michael at the finish line, where the party atmosphere made the start of the race look like a Tupperware party by comparison. After a few photos with our finisher’s medals and patches, we headed out for a lunch of tasty Mexican food!

Now I have a better understanding of the phrase, “Get your kicks on Route 66.” The Route 66 Marathon was a blast, and Michael is the reason why there’s a Rucking Division at the event every year. I highly recommend it, especially with a ruck!

Postscript: A few months after this event, our teammate Jeff passed away. I’m glad we were able to enjoy this experience together and we at GORUCK send our condolences to his family.

GORUCK America is an ongoing initiative where GRHQ sends a member of our team to visit a Ruck Club and help build community in the real world. Doug Stryker, our Ruck Club Community Manager, traveled to Tulsa for the Route 66 Marathon event.