June 28, 2001 Vol . 21, No. 5

New home for track team

By Marianne Meadahl

SFU's track has undergone a long-awaited face lift – a change that will do more than improve its look.

Work to replace the original six-lane running track with a new eight-lane international calibre facility will mean a new home for track and field athletes, who routinely practice off the hill. It will also allow the university to host competitions and increase recreational use.

The project is being carried out jointly between facilities management and the athletics department at an estimated cost of $640,000.

Michael Dinning, director of campus community services, says work to repair the ailing track could no longer be put off. In addition, the athletics department put forward a proposal to expand the facility.

Word from facilities management operations director Sam Dahabieh that it would go ahead this past spring was welcome news. "The track had deteriorated significantly," says Dinning. "Not only could athletes not train on campus but it could no longer be used safely even for recreational purposes. Something had to be done."

The original track had undergone a surface upgrade in 1979, the same time the field was rebuilt. "Over time we've done many repairs to this original track, including some minor rehabilitation, mainly because of safety concerns," notes Dahabieh. "A major upgrade has been wanted for a long time. It was agreed that the time had come."

The work involved digging out the old, deteriorated six-lane track surface and carrying out expansions to both the south and north sides of the track in order to create a new eight-lane track.

An embankment to the south required that a retaining wall be built to support the two new lanes, while on the north side, expansion meant a modification of water pipe connections, and moving the existing road about eight feet. The track expansion will not affect the soccer sand/grass field. Dahabieh says two layers of polyurethane material will be applied to the base coat.

Dahabieh says the track will then be surveyed to ensure it meets track and field officials' standards. Markings will be added and the lanes numbered.

"The site has been totally redesigned and modernized," says Dinning, noting that there are also new areas for field events, and even a waterhole for the steeplechase. "It will also provide a first-class facility for the recreational community."

SFU athletes are excited. "It will be great for our athletes to start training at home," says track and field coach Brit Townsend (above), whose athletes train at a variety of facilities, including Burnaby Central high school and Coquitlam town centre.

"Typically, the team has been dismembered. Now we can train together."

With an expanded and improved track, SFU can now play host to major competitions, an activity that will benefit the university as well as the community at large, notes Townsend.

Wilf Wedmann, director of athletics and recreational services, says hosting events could help to generate money for the team as well as revenues for residences.

"We've already applied to the Royal Canadian Legion to host a national camp for 500 young people in two to three years time. As well, we're talking to some local groups about having teen camps up here. Both would be good exposure for SFU in terms of recruiting students and generating great revenues for residences."

The work is expected to wrap up as scores of young people arrive on campus for the annual summer camps.

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