I see by the legal advertisements in last week's Chronicle that the Board of Education has advertised for bids to replace the all weather track at Magnolia High School. Good! That track has needed replacing for at least the last couple of seasons, and last year, it actually posed a safety risk to those who ran on it.
What I did not see in the Chronicle ad was any mention of adding asphalt to actually make the track 400 meters. Many people do not know this, but the track is actually 402.5 meters around. When the original all weather surface was put down many years ago, they did not resurvey; they just used the existing marks for the old 440 yard track. Thus, when the all weather surface was put down, it was impossible to put in a 400 meter track, because the asphalt base was 402.5 meters. This led to a mish mash of lines and staggers to make races actually run the right distance. It is also a track official's nightmare to start races on the right marks. In addition, if an athlete had set a state or national record, it would have been disallowed because the track did not meet specifications.
I would implore the Board of Education and those in charge of this project, to do the right thing and fix the track properly. I have had other coaches in the valley tell me that the fix is simple. Asphalt has to be added to the inside of one turn, wide enough to enable the track to be resurveyed with new marks to make it 400 meters around the inside of lane one. To do anything less, would be to shortchange the athletes of the area who will use the track in the future.
WVSSAC and USATF Track Official