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Marathon ‘Big Deal’ to Cottonwood Heights; Traffic Detours Upset Some

Oct 07, 2015 02:09PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

Marathon finish line.

By Cassandra Goff

On Sept. 12 Cottonwood Heights hosted the annual Big Cottonwood Marathon & Half Marathon presented by Revel and Lexus. This event began in Big Cottonwood Canyon and ended at 1265 Fort Union Blvd. This marathon, “with it being a Boston qualifier brings about 450 (people) each year,” Tee Tyler, an elected official, said. “This race is a big deal.”

The marathon began at 6:45 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. which was when all racers were predicted to be at the finish line. The marathon was a “very positive thing that went on all day” John Park, city manager, said. He noticed much energy around the finish line. The winner for the marathon was Jason Howe coming in at 2:37:40 and the winner for the half marathon was Jon Gauthier coming in at 1:09:26.  

While the marathon is a fantastic event, it causes one of the biggest road closures for Cottonwood Heights. Beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m., Fort Union Blvd. was closed from Wasatch Blvd. to approximately 13th East. 

The city officials attempted to notify residents before Sept. 12 about the closure to discourage frustration. Signs were put up around Fort Union and there was an informational excerpt in the Cottonwood Heights newsletter. The day of the marathon, through “media alerts, residents knew when streets were open” Dan Metcalf, public information officer for Cottonwood Heights, said. Cottonwood Heights posted on Facebook and Twitter when streets were open to notify residents when they could cross Fort Union Blvd. 

However, many complaints were still made. “Who is responsible for this debacle?” said a complaint by John Park.  “Most of the complaints I got were from people that were inconvenienced of time, not one of them had known we had done this race for the last three years,” Mayor Cullimore said. Some complaints were from citizens upset that their tax dollars would fund this event. Cullimore clarified, “Tax dollars doesn’t go to this.”

Many residents used different routing during the event. The most popular alternative route was Creek Road. “Creek Road becomes the main artery for people on the south side,” Cullimore explained. It took an hour to get down Creek Road with the influx of use. A main concern for next year for city officials will be how to make traffic on Creek Road run smoothly.

Some concerned residents suggested opening a different route for runners. “You could take and run them down Wasatch and over down Bengal,” Cullimore suggested. There are some “real challenges to that,” Mike Allen, public works director said. Moving the race off Fort Union Blvd. inconveniences neighborhoods and subdivisions where people could potentially be locked into their homes for up to four hours on a Saturday morning. 

While this event will continue to be held every year, Cottonwood Heights officials will attempt to make things smoother for residents. “I think we need to have a very clear insert in our newsletter that goes out the first of September that tells everyone the closure and the routes to take,” Cullimore suggested. The hope is for every resident to be aware of the closure and have an available alternative route. 

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