Running tally not too steep

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by Chris Tobin

Members of the Athletics South Canterbury All-Weather Track Trust are a happy bunch.

They had been worried a full replacement of the all-weather track at Timaru’s Aorangi Park would be required, meaning the cost would balloon well over $1million, adding hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last week a track inspection was made by Leon Dukeson, of Auckland company Rubber Floors, a sub-contractor for Italian athletics supply company Mondo.

After touring the track, checking worn areas, Mr Dukeson decided a new top layer would be all that was required.

The track would not have to be ripped up and replaced fully with all the extra costs involved.

“We’re happy with that,” trust chairman Gordon Ireland said.

The Mondo track has been down since 2004 and although generally standing up well has come to the end of its expected 15- to 17-year lifespan.

“There hasn’t been any great deterioration; it’s still pretty robust,” Mr Ireland.

However, the longer the work was delayed the greater the risk, so the trust has decided to upgrade it.

The total cost of installing a new top layer was expected to be $976,028.

Trust member Lynley Welford said it should have roughly $600,000 ready to go, assuming it was successful with an application for $100,000 from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board which should be known next month, leaving a shortfall of about $400,000.

Check up…Members of the Athletics South Canterbury All-Weather Trust nervously awaited the verdict on the track, from left, Don Garland, Helen Mackle, Reg Brockett, Lynley Welford, Leon Dukeson (Mondo representative), Gordon Ireland and Michael Boorer. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

Mr Ireland said things had been made more difficult by Covid›19 with trusts and organisations that once could provide funding not being in a position to do so.

It had been hoped that the track upgrade could have been undertaken early next year but because of Covid›19 this had to be pushed out to early 2022.

‘‘If not for Covid we would have got the money, a business plan ready and lined everything up.

‘‘I’m still viewing things confidently but as a trust we’ve got to find the money.’’
He hoped the South Canterbury community could be able to make donations.

The Mondo track surface was considered to be the best quality athletics surface in the world.

‘‘Mondo has supplied every main Olympic Games track since the 1976 Montreal Olympics as well as [for] a lot of Commonwealth Games,’’ Mr Dukeson said.
‘‘That speaks for itself.’’

Besides club athletics, South Canterbury primary and secondary schools made extensive use of the Timaru track which has also hosted New Zealand secondary school championships, South Island Colgate and Masters games and an annual Lovelock Classic.

Following the Canterbury earthquakes, from 2011 to 2018 Christchurch athletes travelled south regularly to compete until the Nga Puna Wai track was built in Christchurch.