Cowboys Jet, right, and Cord McCoy, left, speak at Tuesday's announcement that they will lead the Calgary Stampede parade. ((Calgary Stampede))

Two cowboys, best known as contestants on the American reality show Amazing Race, are this year's Calgary Stampede parade marshals.

Brothers Jet and Cord McCoy, who hail from Oklahoma, finished second in this season's run of the popular TV series that features contestants in a race around the world. Their down-to-earth approach during the show earned them the nickname "gentlemen cowboys."

"I feel like a little kid. I want to save every news clip and watch every TV show, because I know what the generations before us have passed on about the Calgary Stampede and what an honour it was," said Cord McCoy, 29, a professional bull rider who has also qualified to compete in the Stampede rodeo.

"For Jet and I, [it] feels like we have something to uphold as far as cowboys."

This year's Stampede parade theme is everyday heroes, explained the Stampede's president, Dr. David Chalack, at a news conference on Tuesday.

"In an era of professional celebrities — many of whom don't have the character worthy of all the public and media attention — to see these two young men in action was a reminder that cowboy ethics never go out of fashion," said Chalack.

The annual Calgary parade kicks off the Stampede on July 9. Billed as the greatest outdoor show on Earth, the 10-day event celebrates the cowboy way of life, and features rodeo competitions and a midway.

Olympians, emergency officers to join parade

It has been 11 years since a working cowboy has been parade marshal, and only the sixth time since the procession started in 1912.

Canadian home improvement guru Mike Holmes led last year's parade, which drew an estimated 300,000 people. Other marshals have included royalty, rodeo champions, and athletes and actors.

In rounding out the everyday heroes theme, Olympic medallists from the Calgary area — including men's skeleton champion Jon Montgomery and women's speed-skating double medallist Kristina Groves — have also been invited to take part in the parade.

It will also salute members of the Calgary police and fire departments, which are celebrating their 125th year of service. Police Chief Rick Hanson and fire Chief Bruce Burrell will be on horseback as part of the procession.