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Advancements in Technology Spur Track Surface Renovations

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

Cinder and clay (and occasionally grass) were the most commonly used natural track surfaces for decades. 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. However, deciding from the available options is the most critical decision most organizations must make when constructing a track. The professionals with Snyder & Associates have assisted schools and communities with planning and design services to develop new sports venues for many years. They 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, facility location, maintenance capabilities, and the intended frequency and use of the track. Equally as necessary, the surface type can impact the runners’ speed, technique, and physical health, demanding that safety and performance be considered.

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 optimal 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 highly durable and an excellent outdoor option due to their ability to withstand harsh elements. Their semi-permeable nature enables water to drain from the track, requiring little maintenance easily.

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 before 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 the polyurethane surface while protecting the existing HMA base. Crews could then repair 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 rebuilding two track facilities at separate locations. At the famed “Trojan Bowl” football stadium, the field had previously been surrounded by a muddy cinder track during rainy weather. This quickly became a headache for fans, cheerleaders, and band members trying to use the stadium. Because this track was to be utilized for non-competition activities, our team created 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 included other amenities, including new shot put, discus fields, and 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 and 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 using a specialized, high-performance synthetic athletic surface designed for speed, competition, and daily training. This unique surface was also used outside both end zones to create extended space for the high jump, pole vault, and long jump lanes.

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