University of Tennessee Army ROTC cadets started a 148-mile journey across East Tennessee to deliver the game ball for Saturday night’s Battle at Bristol.
Each of the 14 UT cadets chosen will run two to four-mile stretches to deliver game ball to Bristol.
“With the Battle at Bristol, we thought it would be cool to run the game ball from Knoxville to Bristol as a way to celebrate the historic game and be a part of it in some small way,” Lt. Col. Jared Crain, head of UT’s Army ROTC Rocky Top Battalion said in a news release.
Running a game ball to an opponent’s field is a tradition several rival schools carry out each football season. The Army ROTC program at Virginia Tech will also run their game day ball to Bristol at the same time.
The drive from Knoxville to Bristol takes less than two hours, but the cadets’ journey will take 13 hours by foot, the equivalent of 317,000 total steps.
The group started at Gen. Neyland’s statue at Neyland Stadium’s Gate 17 on Phillip Fulmer Way and winded their way through Knoxville, up to Morristown, White Pine and Newport before stopping in Greeneville for the night.
“The Greeneville YMCA is putting us up for the night and hosting a bar-be-que for the cadets and providing cots,” Crain said. “Then the cadets will get up early Saturday morning and run the rest of the way in through Fall Branch, Kingsport and Blountville until they reach Bristol.”
The Knoxville Police Department will provide an escort to keep the cadets safe on the road.
The cadets are scheduled to arrive on time for Saturday’s 8 p.m. ET kickoff between Tennessee and Virginia Tech.