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When is it time to install a new running track system?

The Problem: Understanding the signs of an aging running track 

1. Cracking, bubbling, or dips in the surface of the track. 

2. Plants and weeds growing through the track. 

3. Lines or color fading away. 

4. Delamination – when the asphalt or concrete base separates from the top layer.  

Consider the Athletes Safety First

When making the decision to build a new athletic running track, there are many important factors to consider. The most important question being, “What is the best surface for my athletes to run on?” With a large variety of available options, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each will assist in making the best decision possible. The type of surface can impact speed, running technique, and physical health of runners, therefore it is essential to keep safety and performance on your mind.   

The Solution: The Rise of Polyurethane Running Tracks

Formerly, Cinder and Clay were the most common running track surfaces, and although inexpensive to install, they have two major disadvantages. Both surfaces require constant attention, which builds up maintenance costs. Cinder and Clay also provide different running experiences depending upon the weather. Because of these disadvantages, along with athlete safety concerns, synthetic surfaces were created as an alternative option to natural surfaces in hopes of developing a long-term solution that would be safer, more cost-efficient, and durable depending on conditions. 

Latex / Acrylic track systems have been introduced as a low-cost, all-weather track surface, that while not as resilient as a polyurethane system, still provides the cushion that track athletes are looking for.  Latex / Acrylic tracks are typically installed in lifts, varying in thickness and number of lifts depending on the owner’s needs and budget. Regardless of the number of lifts that are initially installed, we recommend Latex / Acrylic tracks to be resurfaced every 3-5 years to properly maintain their integrity. Failure to do so often results in grooving-in of high-wear areas, including starting areas, lanes 1 and 2, and field event runways. The frequent need of attention, repairs, and resurfacing of latex tracks have inspired many schools and track teams to research their options with polyurethane track surfacing. 

Simpson College Running Track
Maplewood High School Running Track

In contrast to a Latex track surface, a polyurethane surface usually needs to be resurfaced in 7-9 years, and the system as a whole can last as long as its asphalt base (20-25 years). Polyurethane will keep its form much longer than latex, providing a softer surface for running athletes, thus causing less strain on the athlete’s joints. You can expect a slightly higher installation cost with a polyurethane surface but can expect to save money on maintenance and resurfacing costs over the life of the track. 

There are a handful of polyurethane options for an owner to choose from, and one of our sports construction consultants would be happy to speak with you about what system is best for you. Consider the athlete first and install a new running track today. Click here to contact an expert.