The annual Salt Lake City Classic and Sports Festival is gearing up for an expected crowd of some 4,500 participants in this year's event, which will be held over the Memorial Day weekend.

The event - officially known as Blue Cross and Blue Shield presents the SLC Classic - will include competition in volleyball, tennis and cycling on both Friday and Saturday (May 26 and 27) and three separate running events on Saturday.Registration can be completed at any Gart Brothers sporting goods store or any city and county recreation center.

About 4,000 of the Classic participants are expected to take part in the footraces. The 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs will begin at 8:30 and 9:10 a.m., respectively, at the Brigham Young monument and finish in Liberty Park. At 11 a.m., there will be an elite 5,000-meter race in the park that will be restricted to Utah residents who have submitted a qualifying time of 15 minutes or better.

So far the field consists of Farley Gerber, Paul Cummings, Jay Woods, Doug Padilla, Wes Ashford, Ed Eyestone and Paul Pilkington. They will be racing for $9,000 in prize money (first place is worth $5,000, second place $2,000, third $1,000, fourth $500, fifth $250, sixth $150 and seventh $100).

There will be new wrinkles in the other competitions, as well. A junior tennis tournament has been added, and the volleyball competition, which in the past has been held in Fairmont Park, will be held in Liberty Park, which has three new sand courts. During Saturday's cycling competition a new rule - known as devil take the hind-most - will be invoked that is designed to eliminate team strategy and speed up the pace. At the end of several designated laps, the runner at the back of the pack will be pulled from the race.

Besides the races, the Classic will have free health and fitness fairs.