The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national organization for builders, designers and suppliers of materials for tennis courts, running tracks, synthetic turf fields and indoor and outdoor synthetic sports surfaces, has announced the completion of a new set of documents, the use of which can allow for the certification of running tracks at high school and collegiate levels of competition. These documents are now available free of charge on the Association’s web site, www.sportsbuilders.org.


Running tracks are built to exacting standards concerning markings, length, planarity, lane width and more. In general, these tolerances exist to ensure fairness in competition, and to create the best possible arena for athletic performance. The tolerances are also essential in terms of certifying and upholding records set by athletes in competition. For example, should an athlete set a record for running a particular event, that record will stand only if the track being used can be certified, or in other words, definitively shown to be in compliance in all aspects of tolerances required by the appropriate governing body.


Previously, track owners on the high school and college levels had few options for having tracks certified. Those who wanted their venues to be in compliance with the standards of the appropriate governing bodies often strove to have their facilities kept in compliance with the tolerances specified by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), the governing body for international competition. However, because  IAAF standards are very exacting, (IAAF standards are normally applied to venues such as those hosting international competitions including the Pan-Am Games and the Olympics), creating a facility that was in compliance with them, and having that facility measured and verified as being in compliance, was a costly, time-consuming process.


Unfortunately, while high schools and universities always want quality venues for their athletes, most do not require one that met international standards. “Because of the lack of any certification process in place, many track owners were spending needless sums of money trying to meet an IAAF level of construction that was simply not necessary,” said Sam Fisher, chairman of the American Sports Builders Association. “Because there was no certification in place, for example, at the high school track level, architects and engineers often would request an IAAF certification for no other reason than it was the only measuring stick available.”


While IAAF certification remains the standard for facilities at the highest levels of competition, ASBA saw the need for a level of certification that would address the requirements of high schools and colleges who were building new track and field facilities and wanted quality venues, but not necessarily at the international level. ASBA members, including track builders, stripers, design professionals and others, worked to create a set of track certification documents that would meet these needs.


The documents, which are intended to serve as verification to the owner of the facility that their track meets the requirements of the appropriate governing body, have been recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) which governs college-level athletics, and by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) which governs high school level athletics. Five different levels of track certification now exist. “Classes 1 and 2 are those of IAAF,” Sam Fisher points out. “Class 5 is for the typical practice track and small high school or middle school meet facilities.”


The remaining two classifications can be found on the documents set forth by ASBA, and are relevant to high schools and colleges. The certification documents are “Class 3: Markings and Slopes Certification for Running Tracks” and “Class 4: Markings Certification for Running Tracks.”


All levels of certification (Meaning Classes 1 through 5) are meant to be addressed as an integral part of construction; Classes 4 and 5 are to be completed as part of the striping package. Class 3 also includes a section on track and event area slopes, which must be completed before the track surface is installed.


The documents are available on the ASBA web site, www.sportsbuilders.org, and can be found under the subheading Construction Guidelines/Buyers’ Guides, from the menu on the left-hand side of the page. The documents can be printed out from the page, or a downloadable .pdf file is also available. The documents are available free of charge, and should be completed by a track professional who is able to perform the necessary calculations. ASBA’s membership search feature, also found on the web site, can help track owners locate a qualified professional to help with track certification, as well as marking, construction, surfacing, repairs, maintenance and more.


According to Fisher, the new track certification documents are a part of ASBA’s continuing efforts to promote quality construction of athletic facilities. The use of documentation, he notes, contributes to “a completed project that meets everyone’s expectations with no surprises. A happy and satisfied owner is good for the industry.”


The ASBA is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators and users understand quality athletic facility construction. The Association sponsors informative meetings, publishes newsletters, books and technical construction guidelines and keeps its members updated on the latest developments in the industry. For additional information on the ASBA, its publications, activities and upcoming meetings, please contact the Association at 8480 Baltimore National Pike, Suite 307, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The phone numbers are 866-501-ASBA (2722) or 410-730-9595, and the fax number is 410-730-8833. The ASBA also may be reached electronically via its website: www.sportsbuilders.org, or by e-mail at info@sportsbuilders.org.

SportsField Management