A synthetic track should conform to international standards

Dear Editor,

One would hope that the whole point of laying a synthetic athletic track is to ensure that the timings achieved will earn international recognition. This implies the importance of the track conforming to international standards. The following extracts from the IAAF may be instructive:

IAAF Performance Specifications for Synthetic Surfaced Athletics Tracks (Outdoor)

●  It is important to remember that the tolerances required of this type of facility involve a good standard of road construction. The total depth of base necessary to ensure long-term stability of the finished track surface will depend upon the exact nature of the site on which it is to be built. It should be noted that, even on the most ideal site, a MINIMUM of 150mm free-draining aggregate below a MINIMUM of 60mm bitumen/macadam will prove to be necessary. The macadam would typically comprise a base course 40-60mm thick and a wearing course 25-30mm thick. Great attention must be paid to the accuracy of the final macadam layer because of the very strict requirements for surface flatness in Clause 1.2 and the requirements for minimum thickness of the synthetic surface in Clause 1.3 of these specifications. It is quite likely that, in order to achieve the required tolerances, corrective work to the macadam layer will be necessary and time should be allowed for this in the programme for the works. It is important that the overall construction must drain freely by means of an adequate perimeter drainage system.

●  It is recommended that a geotechnical survey of the ground conditions over the site is carried out at an early stage, and the results of such a survey should be made available to an independent consultant engineer in order that an adequate base to the track can be designed.

●  It should be noted that certain options for the construction of the track surface may not be entirely appropriate for particular climatic conditions prevailing in certain countries. The advice of an independent expert should be sought at an early stage.

●   It is usual for a five-year warranty to be given by the installer of the facility. The specifier should obviously be satisfied that the terms of such a guarantee can be met by the company concerned. The exact mechanism for ensuring such compliance by the installer will vary from one country to another.

●  It is important that, during construction, quality control of ALL aspects of the work is rigorously adopted. This should extend from the installation of the drainage system, through the entire project, to the application of the finished synthetic surface and line markings. The assistance of an independent, suitably experienced and competent test laboratory should be sought in particular for the quality control of the synthetic surface and to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the finished facility in order to ensure compliance with the performance parameters. When selecting such a laboratory, the specialised requirements of this IAAF Specification must be carefully considered.

It is worth noting the commonsensical emphasis that is placed on drainage – a particular concern so far as Guyana’s rainfall pattern is concerned.

The remainder of related information can be found at http://www2.iaaf.org/TheSport/ Technical/Tracks/PerfSpecifications.html.

Meanwhile, what is also interesting is the siting of the track away from the heavy concentration of the athletes on the east bank of the Demerara River.

One assumes that the track will be accessible for training moreso than interspersed events. So that the question of affordable accessibility by individual athletes must be a consideration. It is surprising that athletic organisations, including the schools system have not commented on the indisposition, for example, of athletes from East Berbice having to cross two rivers (subject at times to traffic closures) to get to the new championship site. So that even arrangements for training by groups can prove problematical.

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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