The University of Utah football team’s annual spring scrimmage is called the Red and White Game. This year, when the event coincides with the Salt Lake City Marathon, that moniker may seem even more appropriate.
Red for the color of the faces of frustrated fans as they try to navigate multiple road closures around Rice Eccles Stadium. And white for the flag of surrender they may eventually wave if the roadblocks delay their arrival until after halftime.
The Spring Game, the culmination of the Utes’ spring practices, is scheduled to kick off at noon Saturday at Rice Eccles. The pregame entertainment will be the 17th annual MUSS Utah Alumni Association flag football game, set for 11 a.m.
Also on campus, about a mile away, the SLC Marathon will begin at the Olympic Legacy Bridge. Competition begins with a bike race at 6 a.m. followed by the marathon at 7 a.m. and the starts of shorter-distance foot races until 7:15 a.m.
This isn’t the first time the two events have been held on the same date, though, and Jordie Lindley, the Utes assistant athletic director for communications, said she doesn’t expect too many complications.
“We haven’t really viewed it as a major disruption,” she said. “Three years ago it was on the same day and it wasn’t that much of a problem.”
Typically between 3,000-5,000 fans attend the Red and White Game, Lindley said. But, she added, “We’re expecting a much larger crowd this year.” That’s because all proceeds will go to memorial scholarships named for Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, two Utes players who died from gunshot wounds within 13 months of each other.
Gates at Rice-Eccles won’t open until 11 a.m., she said. By then, most of the roads in that area are expected to have been reopened. In addition, anyone accessing the game from the east along Foothill Drive shouldn’t experience anything more than residual backup from other street closures. For those coming from the north, south or west who want to tailgate, though, some closures will be worth noting.
To the north, most of 11th Avenue will be closed from 5:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. and South Temple between State Street and 900 East will be closed from 5:45 until 10:30 a.m., according to a map posted on the Salt Lake City Marathon website.
From the west, 900 East from South Temple to 800 South is also expected to close from 5:45 until 10:30 a.m. At 800 South, the path skips over to 1100 East, which will be closed for the same duration from 800 South down to Sugar House Park.
From there, the course stretches south into the Murray area before returning to Library Square in downtown Salt Lake for the finish. Roads in that area will be closed from midnight until 6 p.m. Saturday.
Lindley said the Utes are encouraging people to take Trax, which is also a good option for those participating in the marathon. Marathon bibs are valid as UTA fare on Trax, Frontrunner and buses all day and the Red Line will be running an extended schedule. The first train will start from the Daybreak Parkway station at 4:09 a.m. and arrive at the U. of U. Hospital on campus at 5:08 a.m. Direct trains to the medical center will run every 20 minutes until 5:49 a.m. Trains from Draper will begin at 4:18 a.m.
The marathon is returning to the streets for the first time since 2019. The past two years, it has been held virtually. In 2019, Chad Crockford won the race in 2 hours, 38 minutes, 16 seconds. The last competitor crossed the finish line in 6:45:03.