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My Tulsa Tough Experience - Part 1: Meeting Shawn Brett

I met Shawn Brett last Memorial Day weekend in Boise, Idaho.   Thanks to him, I recently experienced my 1st (and definitely not my last) Tulsa Tough.  Since I told this story several times in Tulsa, here’s how someone in Park City ends up in Oklahoma the 1st weekend in June.
Me and Shawn
In early 2012, I volunteered to work full-time at the Exergy Tour in order to show my support for women’s cycling and be part of the inaugural (and hopefully not last) UCI Women’s Tour only 5hrs from home.   When asked if I’d be a Course Marshal, I was a little tentative, but agreed.  

I showed up for the initial meeting on Thursday afternoon and stood around like all the other locals.  We were asked to pick a team van for the next 5 days and I moved a couple steps to #1, the closest by me.  I didn’t know anyone or have any idea what I was getting into, but it seemed like the logical choice.
Exergy Tour - Boise, ID

I immediately met David, our team captain, but alas, this wasn’t my Shawn moment.  We departed and because I had arranged a ride to the Prologue, I met the team there a few hours later.  David set me up in a spot right out of the 1
st corner and we were off.  

Shawn was inside that 1st corner blowing his whistle like nobody’s business.  We didn’t meet, but I did keep tabs on both him and David since I was trying to quickly learn the ways of a Course Marshal.  Their energy was certainly contagious, but more importantly, they were professionals and I tried to learn by osmosis.
My 1st Course Marshall location at Exergy Tour

The next morning, I again had a ride to the Start of Stage 1, so piled into the back of the van and started to get to know my teammates.  Shawn jumped in the driver’s seat and we were off.  At some point during our recon drive of the course, Shawn and I started talking about women’s cycling and I realized he was the real deal.  

He was extremely passionate about promoting and supporting women’s cycling, but also conveying how important it was as Course Marshals to make sure the ladies were safe.  I knew my gut had led me to the right van for the week.
Course Marshal Van #1 - Shawn and David's view

Since Maura and I rode in the back seat of the van, we had quality time with Shawn and David.  I learned a ton and we had a blast.  Shawn, Maura, and I worked the TT turn-around on Stage 2 together in miserable weather and really got to know each other.  We’ve all been FB friends since and hopefully will Course Marshal another tour together someday.

Exergy Tour Stage 2

Shawn introduced me to Tulsa Tough and throughout the week I quizzed him about the whole process.  I hadn't heard of the event before, but became extremely interested once I heard how dedicated the race is to women.  This includes equal pay, host housing, special events, preferred start times, and more.  As I watched Shawn interact with the racers, it was obvious they respected him and had Tulsa Tough as one of their "don't miss" races of the season.  
Shawn talking to an Exergy rider

At the end of the Exergy Tour, Shawn and I swapped emails and I figured we might run into each other again at the 2013 Exergy Tour or another Medalist Sports Event, but honestly didn’t think I’d end up in Tulsa as soon as I did.  Come June in Park City, the mountain biking is getting good and we don't like to leave. Especially to somewhere like Tulsa, which is hours away, sans mountains, and characteristically very hot and humid.
June in Park City

Shawn and I did meet up briefly at the Tour of Utah in August since he was working Media and we were spectating.  He had gone home from Boise and pulled off another hugely successful Tulsa Tough.  Other than that, we kept in touch via social media.  Shawn does an awesome job with both the Tulsa Tough FB page and @tulsa_tough twitter account.  This video of last year’s Cry Baby Hill is just a sample of the media he shares.

Now that you’ve watched it.  What, you didn’t?  I’ll wait - watch it and turn up the volume!

The Tulsa Tough bug was digging deeper into my brain so I told Shawn that if Exergy Tour cancelled, I would come volunteer at Tulsa Tough.  True to my word, the day Exergy finally announced it couldn’t pull off a race in 2013, I booked a flight to Tulsa.  I didn’t care what jobs I was assigned, I knew Shawn would make sure I got to see Tulsa Tough at its best.

We emailed each other occasionally, but it wasn’t until the Sunday night before I flew out that we actually talked.  Shawn was in full-on Tulsa Tough prep mode and I was slightly delirious from my weekend of back-to-back centuries.  
100 Miles of Nowhere & Little Red Riding Hood
His excitement was contagious and by the time we hung up, I was ready to fly out the next day!  Shawn’s plans for me were equally thrilling and frightening but I had signed up for the Tulsa Tough experience so I was going for it! 

You’ll have to wait for the next post to see what Shawn had in mind.


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