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Advancements in Technology Spur Track Surface Renovations

Whether at the high school, collegiate, or professional level, modern sports venues have continually evolved with the introduction of new ideas and materials. These changes often revolve around ease of maintenance, increased comfort, or improved safety, for the spectators as well as the athletes. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the advancements in running track design and surfaces.

For many decades, cinder and clay (and occasionally grass) were the most commonly used natural track surfaces. They’re comfortable to run on, relatively cheap to construct, and have a minimal force impact on a runner’s joints. However, natural track surfaces are rendered virtually unusable during inclement weather and they require constant (and costly) maintenance in the form of releveling, adding filler material, and remarking lanes. The deficiencies associated with cinder and clay surfaces ultimately led to advancements in other types of running surfaces.

Track Surface Decisions Benefit from Professional Guidance

Today, most running tracks are constructed with a synthetic-based rubber material system. But deciding from the available options is the most important decision that most organizations will have to make when constructing a track. The professionals with Snyder & Associates have been assisting schools and communities with planning and design services to develop new sports venues for many years and can help your organization with these crucial decisions.

Deciding which track surface will be best for your facility depends on several critical factors such as your financial resources, location of the facility, maintenance capabilities, and the intended frequency and use of the track. Equally as important, the type of surface can impact the speed, technique, and physical health of the runners, demanding that safety and performance be kept in mind when making your choice.

Modern Surface Options Provide Convenience & Safety Benefits


Cross-section of a polyurethane track surface.

The commonly-used synthetic surface options consist of rubber particles bound with polyurethane. These surfaces are typically installed to a depth of about ½” on top of an asphalt or concrete base. It’s also possible to construct the systems in layers and use different textures for the optimal amount of traction and best performance depending on your organization’s needs. Adding pigments to the blends provides a color customization option to match school or team colors.

The polyurethane-bound track surfaces provide improved safety, increased performance, and better durability. These surfaces produce outstanding shock absorption and cushioning, protecting athletes from injury and trauma by absorbing the heavy impacts of running and reducing muscle stress. Synthetic surfaces are also extremely durable and an excellent outdoor option due to their ability to withstand harsh elements. Their semi-permeable nature enables water to easily drain from the track, requiring little maintenance.

From simple resurfacing projects to complete removal and replacement of existing tracks, our team handles projects of any size and complexity. Here’s just a sample of track projects we’ve completed for our clients.

Saydel School District Requires Track Surface Upgrade


Saydel’s aging track prior to repairs.

The Saydel Community School District in central Polk County had an existing polyurethane-surfaced track that had outlived its useful life. Our design team was tasked with developing a plan to remove just the polyurethane surface while protecting the existing HMA base. Crews were then able to make repairs to any cracking in the base before installing a new synthetic rubber running surface.

Atlantic School District Renovates Two Track Facilities

For the Atlantic Community School District in western Iowa, their recent needs included the rebuilding of two track facilities at separate locations. At the famed “Trojan Bowl” football stadium, the field had previously been surrounded by a cinder track that became a muddy mess during rainy weather. This would quickly become a headache for fans, cheerleaders, and band members trying to use the stadium. Because this track was to be used for non-competition activities only, our team was able to create more sideline space by improving the grading and removing several lanes from the track. In place of the cinder, a new four-lane fitness track was installed.

Across town at the high school location, our team developed plans for resurfacing the district’s eight-lane competition track that encompassed the soccer field. The track project was in addition to other amenities, including new shot put and discus fields and new bleachers designed to meet all ADA requirements and provide many more years of service.

Simpson College Track Rebuild Part of Stadium Renovation Project


Freshly completed track renovations at Simpson College.

The historic Simpson College campus in Indianola is home to the iconic Bill Buxton Stadium. Our team provided extensive civil engineering, as well as athletic facility design services during the school’s most recent renovation project at the stadium. This included the complete replacement and striping of the eight-lane competition track surrounding the football field. We recommended the use of a specialized, high-performance synthetic athletic surface that’s designed for speed, competition, and daily training. This special surface was also used outside of both end zones to create extended space for the high jump, pole vault, and long jump lanes.

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