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They have scrambled to secure the necessary permits, on agonizingly short notice. They have hired an event organizer skilled in crisis management to direct race logistics on the fly. And the new owners of the Salt Lake City Marathon have done their best to convince wary runners that they really will operate the 9-year-old race in a way that will make the community proud instead of embarrassed.

Now, it's time to see what comes of it.

Thousands of runners and bikers will take to the streets for the 26.2-mile marathon and several shorter events on Saturday morning, while the new owners cross their fingers that they have done well in working frantically over the past few months to stage a good race.

"Something for sure is going to go wrong, because something always does," said Peter Handy, the owner of U.S. Road Sports. "But I hope whatever goes wrong is noticed only by U.S. Road Sports and not by the runners."

Handy and his company purchased the beleaguered race from embattled owner Chris Devine in February, just days before an initial deadline to apply for city permits for the race.

Since then, he has worked hard to counter skepticism that he would not be able to stage the race at its scheduled time and battled fears that he's somehow secretly in cahoots with Devine, who over the years acquired a decidedly unsavory reputation as a businessman who failed to pay his bills and left local vendors and even race winners waiting for their money.

"It kind of felt like it was the 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth for the last 60-some days," he said.

But Handy has repeatedly insisted that despite some past business dealings with Devine, he is not associated with him in any way, and that he plans to build the Salt Lake City Marathon into a reputable event on par with others his company owns, such as the Miami Marathon, the Georgia Marathon and the Chicago Half-Marathon.

"I want to earn people's trust," he said, "and so we don't shy away from naysayers or hard work. Unfortunately, we just had to start a little deeper in a hole, and we just didn't know the depth of the problems. Hopefully, people will understand it's the ninth running of the race — pretty much the same course — just under new ownership, new management.

"I can promise everyone it will not be perfect, because it never is," he added, "but I can also promise that it will be better than in years past and also hopefully better than people expect."

Organizers are disappointed the registration numbers are down, but they weren't surprised, considering the level of uncertainty about the race. About 1,500 runners are entered for the marathon, race spokesman Carter Livingston said, with another 3,500 in the half-marathon, as of Thursday.

Runners in the 5K and cyclists in the bike tour bring the total to nearly 7,000 participants, Livingston said. That's about 19 percent fewer than the 8,600 or so who participated in the events last year, according to race results.

Handy knows that his prospects for next year ride significantly on how runners perceive the race on Saturday. A flawless event with fully paid vendors and efficient organization would surely fuel excitement within the running community.

But run out of water, misdirect runners or stiff the vendors?

That would be troublesome for organizers hoping to take advantage of having a full year to prepare for the 10th edition of the race in 2013.

"Starting next Tuesday or Wednesday, we're going to start getting ready for next year's race," Livingston said.

For now, Handy expressed "confidence and trust" in his hastily assembled staff of workers and volunteers, and it looks as though he will get some help from the weather. Temperatures are expected to remain in the upper 50s and low 60s for most of the morning on race day, with clear skies and little wind —¬†good conditions for marathoners.

The main race begins at 7 a.m. and winds around the city before finishing along South Temple near EnergySolutions Arena. The first marathon finishers should arrive by about 9:20 a.m., though slower ones won't be finished until after noon.

"I'm expecting we're going to put on a really good show for everybody, and I'm very thankful for all the runners and bikers and walkers that we're going to see on Saturday," Handy said. "I hope that we don't let them down."

Twitter: @MCLTribune —

Salt Lake City Marathon

The race begins Saturday at 7 a.m. at its usual location at the Legacy Bridge at the University of Utah, but finishes at a slightly different location, due to construction around the Gateway shopping mall. Finishers will cross the line on South Temple, instead, between 200 West and 300 West. —

UTA TRAX, bus changes

The Utah Transit Authority will make several adjustments to TRAX and bus service for the Salt Lake City Marathon on Saturday. UTA encourages marathon participants and supporters to avoid parking and congestion in the downtown area by riding public transit. The changes are as follows:

TRAX • UTA will run early trains and extra service to downtown and the University of Utah to serve race participants, volunteers and spectators.

Extra trains will depart Central Point (2100 South) northbound at 3:56, 4:16, 4:36 and 4:56 a.m. UTA will also run extra trains from Salt Lake Central directly to the Medical Center, departing at 4:06, 4:26, 4:27, 4:46, 4:47, 5:07, and 5:27 a.m.

The Red Line will run a regular Saturday schedule, with the first northbound departure from Daybreak at 5:56 a.m. However, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., the rail line will be closed at 400 South and State Street due to the marathon. During this period, north- and southbound Red Line trains will operate to and from Salt Lake Central Station instead of running on 400 South. East of State Street, other Red Line trains will run between Library Station and Medical Center Station. Individuals traveling to or from the University of Utah will need to walk between the Court House and Library stations. Accessible bus service will be available for passengers unable to complete a walking transfer.

The Blue and Green lines will run regular Saturday service schedules. The first Blue Line train will depart from Sandy Civic Station at 5:56 a.m. The first Green Line train will depart from West Valley Central Station at 5:21 a.m.

Bus • Due to the number of road closures during the marathon, some UTA bus routes will be on detour, while others will experience a delayed service start.

The following routes will be on detour: 2, 3, 6, 200, 209, 220, 470, 516, 517, 519.

The following routes will have a delayed start of service: 21, 33, 39, 45, 205, 209, 213, 220, 550. Some routes will not begin service until after the marathon.