Thursday, October 18, 2012

Checking out the new digs--Washington's new track and field complex...

SEATTLE--I had the opportunity to spend part of the morning with University of Washington head track coach Greg Metcalf and associate head coach Jason Drake as we walked around the new track and field complex next to the soccer stadium and the east parking lot.

As we walked, workers were putting the final touches on the track markings of the purple IAAF certified Beynon BSS 2000 track surface, the same surface that is in use at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, and is being installed at Washington State University in Pullman and Oregon State University in Corvallis.

One of the biggest challenges of the project was the track's location next to the east parking lot just north of Husky Stadium.

Up until the early 1970s, the current area was essentially a garbage dump site, and that without something to stabilize the footprint of the track facility, there was a real risk that the track would sink as the ground settled.

With that in mind, 177 steel pilings were driven into the ground, driven anywhere from 125 to 140 feet deep.

With cooperation from the weather gods, the crew finished pouring the purple surfacing material in the last week, and began the process of striping the track.

Pole vault runways on the West D area

On the west end of the track are four pole vault runways that can go in either direction (north to south, depending on the wind), a large D area to hold two high jump pits that can be positioned in any direction, and two discus rings, along with a secondary javelin runway pointing towards the east.

The steeplechase water jump is also positioned on the west end D area.

The common finish line is positioned towards the southeast end of the stadium.  Metcalf said that they can run the 100 and 200 meter dashes in the opposite direction with a finish line in the northwest end of the track.

This is the view from the javelin runway

On the east end of the track is another D area with two competition shot put rings plus some practice rings, the main javelin runway (most competitions will be throwing east to west), and the discus/hammer cage will be positioned in the northeast corner of the track, throwing towards the southwest end.

On the inside of the track, which Metcalf calls lane 0, is a softer grey surface for warmup and warmdown, which he also anticipates using for workouts, particularly with distance runners or athletes coming off injuries.

There are four long/triple jump runways (two each direction) located on the south side of the track parallel to the home straightaway.

In the weeks to come, the infield will be seeded with grass.  Bleachers will be installed in the south end of the track along with fencing on the outside.  A plaza area will be put in at the track's main entrance on the southwest corner.

For big meets such as the Pac-12 championships, they can utilize either the soccer stadium or the intramural field as a warmup and/or staging area.

The projected first meet of the new track facility is the dual meet against Washington State in late April (ed-probably April 27), followed by the Ken Shannon meet in early May (ed-probably May 4), before the Pac-12 championships at USC on May 11-12.

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