Running on Empty–”Back the Track” Campaign Kicks Off to Replace WHS Track
It’s been a good run for the current Wilton High School track. “We’re fortunate the track we have lasted as long as it did,” says Kevin Foley, founder and coach of the middle school Wilton Running Club and the Wilton-based high school Connecticut Elite Track and Field Club.
But the finish line is in sight. Due to patchwork fixes over time, the track today is in a major state of disrepair.
Earlier this year, with the blessing of the Parks and Recreation Commission and first selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, Foley lined up the Paige Design Group (PDG), the foremost designer of track and field facilities in the United States (including the University of Oregon, site of the U.S. Olympic Trials), to assess the condition of the track and to recommend a course of action for repair or replacement.
In addition to the PDG assessment, Wilton had test bores done to test the condition of the subsurface from the wearing surface through the asphalt and into the aggregate and soils below.
“The most enlightening insight from the study was that the existing ‘sub-base’ for the track is significantly past its useful life of 30 years,” says Foley. “It will not support a ‘new’ track unless it is replaced.”
That’s why Foley and Bev Hermann, current member of the Wilton Track Association Board of Directors, are proposing a full renovation of the track, which would consist of removing the existing porous synthetic surface and the existing sub-base (aggregate and asphalt only) and then installing an up-to-date non-porous track surface that has a significantly longer useful life and lower overall maintenance costs than other surfaces.
Wilton is deserving and overdue for a quality town track. According to Foley, the Wilton High School track is like “Starbucks for the active-minded,” as the track is used not only by WHS Athletics, but the Wilton community at large–young and old and of all abilities. From children running around while their parents work out to professional and collegiate athletes training, to friends catching up over a walk, there is on average, 382 people using the track every day.
Add to that its use by youth, high school, and club sports teams as well as school and community events such as Relay for Life, the Wilton High School track is likely one of the most widely used facilities in the town.
Back the Track is a non-profit organization driven by the Wilton Running Club, the Wilton Track Association and concerned Wilton residents to raise the funds needed to rebuild this facility that is cherished by so many in the community.
“Our goal is to raise $500,000 to help pay for the ‘Full Pour’ non-porous system we are recommending,” explains Foley. “At first glance, this looks like the second most expensive of the five options available. But, when you take into consideration that multiple resurfaces can be done and it offers the longest useful life (25-30 years vs. the average 17-18 years of the other options), the overall lifetime cost actually becomes the second least expensive.”
And, that’s second only to the Basemat porous option, which the track currently has. The major challenge with the current surface is that since it’s porous, it must drain. Since the asphalt was installed below the drain, the track never channeled the water away properly. Water was left to freeze and unfreeze and caused expansion and contraction of the track surface. This separation of the track from the subsurface results in cracking and peeling. In fact, it is anticipated that even larger sections of the track will peel this spring due to winter weather and moisture seepage through the significant number of existing surface cracks.
Watch video here to see the effects of poor drainage and the current condition of our track.
Foley and team are hopeful that the track replacement can commence in July 2018, which is the start of the 2019 fiscal year. Donations can be made through the Back the Track website, which just went live, and proceeds from contributions to The Turnover Shop marked “Wilton Track Fundraising” will support Back the Track as well. Planning is in the works for a run to also support fundraising.
“There is a great diversity of people who use the track from the great and near-great, people with very specific goals, and everyday people who use it as a social activity to meet friends and get in some exercise too,” says Foley. “I once ran into a young man who asked me to train him to get his Navy Seal contract,” Foley recalls. “He was running 1.5 miles in nine and a half minutes and needed to get it down to nine minutes…in ten days. We worked together every day and he brought it down to nine minutes and five seconds and secured his contract. Great stuff like that happens all the time on the Wilton High School Track.”