Strike up the band: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series is coming to Salt Lake City in August 2023.
The new event, scheduled for Aug. 18-19, will include a half marathon, a 5-kilometer race and a kids run, according to the race website.
Rock ‘n’ Roll has gained popularity over the past two decades for peppering its courses with bands and entertainment. Runners often dress in costume and it is not uncommon to see cheerleaders or themed aid stations along a route.
“Utah’s track record for being an outdoor destination, in addition to accolades such as the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, made the capital, Salt Lake City, the next bucket list location for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series,” Elizabeth O’Brien, the North America managing director for The Ironman Group, owners of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, said in a press release.
The event will join an already packed Utah racing calendar. This year more than 80 half marathons will be offered in the state, according to runningusa.com, 15 of which will be in Salt Lake County. That includes three apiece in West Jordan and Big Cottonwood Canyon. Last week’s Salt Lake City Marathon and the Deseret News Marathon in Salt Lake City on July 23 both offer 13.1-mile courses as well.
Yet, none are scheduled for August, when the average temperature in Salt Lake City ranges between 94 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. And none are destination races, which can draw in tourists and their wallets, according to Jeff Robbins, the CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, which assisted in drawing in the event.
“It will be great to have a great destination endurance event of the caliber of the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series,” Robbins said.
The Utah Sports Commission recently struck a deal with The Ironman Group to bring three world championship triathlons in the span of 13 months to St. George. That includes next week’s full-distance Ironman World Championships, the first to be held outside of Kona, Hawai. When they connected, commission CEO Jeff Robbins said, it was with an eye toward what other events the group — which also owns the Epic Series mountain bike races and Ultra trail running series — could bring to the state.
“Tying into an international brand with other opportunities for the state,” Robbins said in an interview earlier this month with The Salt Lake Tribune, “my hope is it provides us here an opportunity to partner with them on some other major brands.”
Rock ‘n’ Roll currently has races in 14 cities in the United States and six other countries. Thirteen of its events are specifically half marathons. The one held in Las Vegas in February drew an estimated 35,000 participants.
“County residents will get to experience a great event,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a press release, “and the economic impact is estimated to be $4 million in the first year alone.”
Anyone age 12 and older can participate in the Salt Lake City Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, though those as young as 8 can run in the Friday-night 5K. Interested racers can go to runrocknroll.com/salt-lake-city to be notified when registration opens. Registration closes Aug. 13, 2023 and no race-day registration will be offered.