Fredericton needs a new running track, group says

The Fredericton Athletics Association says the city needs a new track as the existing facilities are not adequate.

Fredericton Athletics Association says existing facilities 'subpar'

The Fredericton Athletics Association says the city needs a new track as the existing facilities are not adequate.

Scott Davis, a spokesperson for the association, said Fredericton's existing facilities are either too old, too short, or too unkempt to be of use to training athletes.

"We do have some subpar facilities, which could be OK for training, but they just are not maintained," he said.

Davis formed the association in 2006 with like-minded running clubs in the city. They have been lobbying the City of Fredericton for funds and support ever since.

Fredericton Coun. Mike O'Brien said the running association's requests have been heard but he said it is unlikely they will be approved in the next two years. (CBC)

Davis has been running track and field for 20 years. He started as a 1500m runner in high school.  He has since won numerous championships and has coached several local teams.

Every time Davis has attended a track and field race, it's been elsewhere in the province.

He says the city has always been open to discussion, but that nothing has been done to remedy the issue.

"They're generally positive to any group that approaches them with an idea and I think they like our ideas, but we've had a little bit of resistance on where it's been pushed back onto us for financial responsibility," said Davis.

Davis and his association made their latest pitch to Fredericton's community services committee.

Coun. Mike O'Brien, the committee's chairperson, said says he's heard the recommendations. They include a plan to pave existing tracks and to upgrade some outdated facilities, such as the Fredericton High School track.

While the plan did mention a new facility, O'Brien says the group's smaller requests are more likely to go through.

"Are those feasible? Well again, we'll see if that can do," he said.

"At least that would give them an outdoor track even if it was just asphalt, not all-weather surface to train on. That's a reasonable request. But that certainly is not something that we're doing this year or perhaps not even next year."

O'Brien says funds have already been spent on a tennis court and an ice rink this year, so track plans are not in the city's future.

Meanwhile, cities like Moncton and Saint John have both hosted major meets due to their state-of-the-art facilities.

O'Brien says Fredericton isn't worried about the lost funds, though, and that it will make it up elsewhere.

Off-season training problems

Nathan Paton, left, is captain of the men's track and field team at St. Thomas University. He said competitive runners in Fredericton are at a disadvantage. (St. Thomas University)

Teams in Fredericton also need to deal with slim pickings for the off-season.

There's nowhere for athletes to train during the winter, since there is no indoor track.

Most competitive teams run in high school hallways when the roads become slippery.

"We need somewhere because it's sprints, not long distance running," said Nathan Paton, captain of the men's track and field team at St. Thomas University.

"We need somewhere that's clean and unobstructed that you can go at high speeds," he said.

St Thomas athletes and their counterparts at the University of New Brunswick have been running hallways for years.

"The hallways are about 75 metres, which isn't enough for a 100-metre event, but it's enough that you can build up a sprint," said Paton.

But the workout isn't the same and the results are also different, he said.

"It's so blatantly obvious that we're at a disadvantage. I mean, running in the hallways you can't wear spikes, you can't wear the proper gear, you can't practise starts or handoffs for relays or anything like that.

"It's almost not comparable."