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Site Construction Guidelines

Foundation requirements for athletics facilities (running track/D-sections/runways)

The construction of an adequate foundation is of vital importance to meet the World Athletics strict criteria for gradients and flatness. Not only are they to be met at the time of completion, but for the life of the surface. Not only is the foundation expected to last three times longer than the synthetic surface but should last near to 25 years without signs of movement due to settlement and or heaving

Site Construction Principles related to the development of track and field facilities should strive to meet the following general criteria:
  • The construction of the subbase should be built so it may support, without deformation or failure, the traffic of all the necessary equipment in the construction of the sports facility. The subbase compaction should be clearly identified in the project specifications to a minimum of 95% Proctor.
  • The subbase construction should manage all the designated loads on the athletic surface from not only the athletes, but all required facility maintenance equipment as well, with no risk of sub-surface deviations telegraphing through to the surface. The Owner/CM should provide test results & proof rolls verifying that the subbase meets specification requirements.
  • The building platform needs to be effective in providing safekeeping of the synthetic surface in order to shield it from everything including the impact of water from the ground, any ground movement in the subsoil, as well as uplifting from water-saturated soil in addition to surface depositing due to expansion on freezing.
  • Assurance that liquids consisting of water to include but not limited to rainwater and natural groundwater for example, will need to be capable of evacuating without restriction, either into subsoil, or into a drainage structure. Owner/CM to provide all required surface & subsurface drainage facilities prior to acceptance of subbase.
Foundation Construction Technique

The site conditions for a project make the construction of each foundation unique. A geotechnical investigation must be done to accurately determine the ground conditions at each site. The investigation should be done to a minimum depth of approximate depth of 2.5m to ascertain a comprehensive sample. The geotechnical investigation may be extensive if the area has known issues (expansive clays in Texas). From this investigation you will be able to find the load bearing capacity, permeability, and shear strength of the soil.

The construction of the foundation, for a track and field facility, is similar to secondary road construction.

Maximum Gradients for athletic facilities allowed by World Athletics/NCAA
Tracks and Runways:
  • Maximum 0.1% downward in the running direction.
  • Maximum 1% across the width of the track towards the inside lane. To ensure that the gradient does not exceed the 1.0 % maximum allowed, it is strongly advised that the design gradient be made less than 1.0 %.
Competition areas for jumping events:
  • Maximum 0.1 % downward in the running direction for the last 40m of the Long Jump, Triple Jump, and Pole Vault runways.
  • Maximum 1.0 % across the width of the runway for Long Jump, Triple Jump, and Pole Vault
  • Maximum 0.4 % downward in the running direction for the High Jump. The 0.4 % will be within a 20m radius semicircle centered between the uprights.
Competition areas for throwing events:
  • Maximum 0.1 % downward in the running direction for the last 20m of the runway for the Javelin Throw.
  • Maximum 1.0 % across the width of the runway for Javelin Throw.
  • Maximum 0.1 % downward in the throwing direction for Shot Put, Discus Throw, Hammer Throw, and Javelin Throw landing sector.
  • Circles for Shot Put, Discus Throw, and Hammer Throw should be approximately level.
Drainage System Requirements for athletic facilities

The drainage of water from the synthetic sports surfaces is of extreme importance. If the water does not drain properly from the surface, it can considerably alter the performance & lifespan of the synthetic surface.

It is important to take into consideration which types of water are a problem at each individual location, when planning the drainage system. The most common forms of surface water accumulation on the synthetic surface are rain, mist, dew and snow. When planning, you must also take into consideration water draining from other areas around the synthetic surface, as well as ground water permeating up onto the surface.

The drainage system’s main function should be to remove all water that accumulates on the synthetic sports surface of the running track, the D-area, and any neighbouring athletic areas.

  • A drainage system should be installed inside the track oval to remove all water draining from the track surface and D-areas.
  • An additional exterior drainage system should be in place to collect and remove any water before it reaches the track surface.
  • A perforated pipe drainage system beneath the surface may also be needed, at some facilities, to remove excess groundwater.
Essential criteria for drainage systems

The drainage systems for any track and field area should be designed to meet the following criteria.

  • The construction of the drainage system should strong enough to support the load of all machines, materials, etc., that may need to cross over it.
  • The track surface drainage system must be properly equipped to handle the runoff of the running track and D-area.
  • The exterior drainage system must catch and divert the water before reaching the synthetic surface.
  • A perforated pipe drainage system may be used in cases where the in-field does not drain sufficiently. This will stop the excess ground water from backing up onto the track and D-areas.
  • All drainage systems must be large enough to provide adequate flow of the collected water to collection boxes, sump units, or collection lines.
  • Removable covers must be used in the drainage system to allow for regular maintenance and cleaning.
  • Incorporating the inside and outside curbing of the track into the drainage system is highly recommended.
Curb requirements for athletic facilities
  • Where the synthetic surface meets a contrasting surface it is important to have a clear rigid edge. This occurs at the perimeter of the running track, the inside edge of the D-area, and surrounding all stand-alone field events.
  • The track drainage system and its concrete foundation should clearly edge the inside of the track.
  • An additional concrete curb border should be installed where subsurface conditions require.
  • The outside of the running track, between the D-area and the field and along runways, should have a concrete curb as a border.
  • The concrete curb ensures that the complete synthetic surfaces, including the sub base, are not affected by ground movement.
  • Forms are built on site and filled with reinforced concrete to create the track curbs. Throughout the length of the curbs expansion joints will be placed for minimal movement.
  • The concrete curbs provide fixed control points for the asphalt base.
Requirements for a sand pit for Long Jump and Triple Jump

When designing a facility, it is important to take into consideration the quantity and positioning of the long jump and/or triple jump sand pits. A minimum of one sand pit is required if the facility is planning to host long jump and triple jump competitions.

  • A sand pit with a single runway leading up to it, generally has an inside dimension of 9x3m.
  • A sand pit with a double runway leading up to it, generally has an inside dimension of 9x6m or 9x7m. NOTE: Double sand pits should be avoided if at all possible – they are problematic during competition & practice)
  • The sand pit must be filled with sand to a minimum depth of 0.3m at the outside and slightly deeper in the center. The pit must also have a suitable drainage system in its substructure so as to not fill up with water.
  • The sand pit should have a soft edge around the border for the safety of the athletes. NOTE: While this is preferable, a recent court case set the precedent that jumping is inherently dangerous & a concrete border is an acceptable means to contain sand.
  • The level of the sand must be level with the take-off board. Maximum tolerance allowed is +/-0.02m measured from the highest point of the take-off board. This allows the sand pit cross slope to match runway cross slope.
  • A 0.5m sand trap should be installed around the sand pit, if it is fully integrated into the synthetic surface area. The trap should have a removable rubber honeycomb cover to collect the sand from the athlete’s shoes when leaving the sand pit. These are effective, but are cost prohibitive at most facilities ($9,000 per sand pit).
Requirements for a water jump

Incorporating a water jump into a facility takes a significant amount of excavation and foundation work, making it important to know if one is needed during the design phase.

  • The water jump can wither be positioned, within the D-area or outside of the turn on a standard Track oval.
  • During the construction of the track foundation is the optimal time to excavate and construct the foundation for the water jump.
  • The water jump must be constructed in accordance with the World Athletics/NCAA dimensions.
Requirements for in-ground sports equipment

Depending on the Track and Field events that are to be incorporated into the design of a facility, some in ground equipment may be required.

  • When designing a facility it is important to take into consideration the quantity and position of the field events.
  • The in-ground sports equipment should be installed after the asphalt but before the synthetic surface to prevent any damage to the finished synthetic surface. By installing the equipment after the asphalt base, most hand installed asphalt can be eliminated.
  • The strict requirements of the manufacturer and the World Athletics must be taken into account when positioning and leveling the equipment. The asphalt, and possibly the sub base, will need to be removed to install the equipment correctly.
  • Where the asphalt and subbase was removed, the equipment should be installed in a firm concrete foundation.
  • The requirements of the manufacturer and World Athletics will determine the depth and dimension of the concrete foundation, as well as the type of sports equipment that is being installed.
  • Drainage should be provided from take-off board trays, throw circles & junction boxes.

In-ground installation is required for the following equipment:

  • Water jump hurdle
  • Trays for take-off boards – flush with concrete surface
  • Pole vault plant boxes raised above concrete to match surface thickness
  • Throwing circles for shot-put, discus, and hammer
  • Anchors for pole vault rails (if not freestanding)
  • Hammer/discus cages
  • Track & field timing infrastructure (junction boxes)