Figure 16.6, Figure 16.7, Figure 16.8, Figure 16.9

Figure 16.10, Figure 16.11, Figure 16.12, Figure 16.13

Common Points of Confusion

The term "measure line" is commonly mistaken by some designers as a primary dimension for building a track. But the measure line is an invisible line used to determine the distance that a runner will travel. It is taken from a point 8" outside the inner line of a given lane. Sometimes the measure line is the only dimension given, and the contractor must find the proper dimensions for building a track. In laying out a track, the important dimensions are the distance between the two radius points and the distance from the radius point to the inside and outside edge of the track. Figure 16.6. Shows the most important dimensions for designing and building a track.

Figure 16.6. Track layout.

16.6b Line and Boundary Dimensions

The following descriptions and illustrations are for high school and college track and field. International rules (such as those used for Olympic competition) are not covered in this section. For international rules, write to the International Amateur Athletic Federation, whose address can be found at the end of this chapter.

Track

Figure 16.6 shows a layout for an equal quadrant track (the most common type) which has 100-meter curves and 100-meter straightaways. This equal quadrant layout will accommodate a field up to 195 feet by 360 feet inside the track. (Although it should be noted that a soccer field 195 feet wide inside the track will only have 5½ feet between the edge of the field and the inside edge of the track. With this limited space, trackside sand drains must be installed instead of catch basins, since there is insufficient space for swales and catch basins. See Figure 16.4.) For larger soccer fields (up to 225 feet wide by 360 feet long), a nonequal quadrant track is required. On such a track, the two curved ends are equal in length and the two straightaways are equal in length, but the straightaways are shorter than the curves. (This design, featuring the "international broken-back curve," is the only design that will accommodate a 225 feet by 360 soccer field inside the track.)

The standard lane width is 42" for high school and 42" to 48" for college. (For high school competition, lane widths may vary, depending on the size of the track and the number of lanes desired.) If a curb is installed at the inside lane, a permanent or movable structure 2" high by 2" wide (with rounded edges) is recommended for both high school and college, but college rules also allow a 4" wide curb. (NCAA records can only be set on a track with a curb.) when a curb is used, the measure line for the first lane is 11.81" from the nearest edge of the curb instead of 7.87" from the nearest edge of the 2" painted line, making lane one 3.94" wider than the rest of the lanes. The dimensions shown in Figure 16.6 will accommodate a 2" wide curb if desired.

High Jump

Figure 16.7 shows a high jump approach area traditionally used for high jump layout for high school and college competition. The disadvantage of this traditional design, according to many coaches and jumpers, is that it is too small. The athlete may have to run on grass when approaching the bar, and only one event can be held at a time. The traditional design is slowly being replaced by a larger, more modern design. For high school, coaches and jumpers prefer a 50 feet by 100 feet rectangle over the traditional semicircle, because the rectangular design allows more running space without leaving the all-weather surface. Also, the larger high jump area allows the running direction to be alternated depending on wind direction, and two events (such as men's and women's competition) can be held at one time.

Figure 16.7. Traditional high jump layout.

Where budgets allow, some newer track and field facilities have an all-weather surface that covers most of the area inside the arc at one end of the track (or even at both ends of the track). With this much paved surface, the area can be used for multiple events. One end of the field can be used for multiple high jump events, and possibly even the long jump. The other end can be used for other events, such as the triple jump, the pole vault, and even the shot put.

Long Jump and Triple Jump

Both high school and college rules allow for a great deal of flexibility in designing this type of facility. Figure 16.8 shows the critical dimensions of long jump and triple jump areas.

For high school, the runway should be at least 42" wide and 130 feet to 147½ feet from the long jump scratch line (the edge of the takeoff board nearest the landing pit). The width of the takeoff board is a minimum of 8" and a maximum of 24", and at least 48" long. The takeoff board is made of wood or synthetic material which provides a firm base, and is installed to be level with the runway surface. (A painted line can replace the takeoff board.) The landing pit is the same level as the takeoff board and is a minimum of 9 feet wide and 15 feet long. The long jump scratch line is approximately 12 feet from the landing pit for boys and 8 feet for girls; the triple jump scratch line is 32 feet from the pit for boys and 24 feet for girls, but the position of the scratch line can be adjusted to accommodate different levels of competition.

Figure 16.8. Long jump/triple jump layout.

For college, it is recommended that the runway be 48" wide and 130 feet from each event's foul line (which corresponds to the high school "scratch line," the edge of the takeoff board nearest the landing pit). The width of the takeoff board is specified as 7.8" to 8", and at least 48" long. (For practical purposes, 7.8" is 7 13/16".) For the long jump, the distance between the nearest edge of the landing area and the foul line is a minimum of 3.28 feet and a maximum of 12 feet for both men and women. The distance from the long jump foul line to the farther edge of the landing area is at least 32.81 feet. For the triple jump, the distance between the nearest edge of the landing area and the foul line is a minimum of 36 feet for men (41 feet is recommended), and a minimum of 28 feet for women (34 feet is recommended).

Both landing areas shown in Figure 16.8 have a surrounding curb, 6" wide by 18" deep. The top of this curb is level with the runway and the landing area. There is a 4" pipe drain in the center of the landing area, 30" below the surface. The trench for the drain is 12" wide and filled with natural gravel running the entire length of the area and sloping to an exit pipe. The landing pit is to be filled with mason sand 18" deep.

Pole Vault

The high school pole vault runway is a minimum of 130 feet in length, and where conditions permit, 147.5 feet is preferred. The width is to be 42" whenever possible. For college, the runway is a minimum of 125 feet long, and a recommended width of 48". The vaulting box should be painted white, and has the same dimensions for high school and college: it is 42.5" long, 23.62" wide at the open end, and 16.1" wide at the closed end. The box must be firmly fixed into the ground, and the top is to be level with the surrounding surface. The authors recommend purchasing a manufactured box from a company that supplies landing pads and other track equipment.

Water Jump

The water jump pit used in the NCAA steeplechase (Figure 16.9) is located on the inside (preferred) or outside of the running track, and is usually placed on the inside of the curve at one end of the track. A 23-foot straightaway before and after the water jump is recommended. The water jump pit is 12 feet wide by 12 feet long, and the hurdle is within the 12 feet by 12 feet measurement. The hurdle must be fixed firmly in place and be the same height (2.99 feet to 3.01 feet) as the other hurdles in the competition. The area between the vertical uprights of the hurdle should be made of a solid, rigid material to provide structural strength, and to aid the athletes with depth perception (since they typically step onto the hurdle in passing over it). The depth of the water at its deepest point (for any facility constructed after June 1991) should be 2.29 feet. The bottom of the water jump pit is to be lined with a nonskid, shock-absorbent matting.

Throwing Circles

The throwing circles for high school and college have several things in common. For one thing, the sizes of the circles are the same, with a radius of 3'6" for the shot (Figure 16.10) and 4'1¼" for the discus (Figure 16.11). All circles are recessed ¾" below the finish grade of the surrounding surface. The circumference is marked with a metal, wood, or plastic band that rises ¾" above the level of the circle. In high school competition, if the circle is made of asphalt, concrete, or wood, a 2" painted line can be substituted for the band. The inside edge of the painted line marks the circumference. These are meant to be 2" lines outside the circle to divide it in half front-to-back. These lines are to start at the circumference of the circle. There are no painted lines inside the circle itself. The shot put circle has a stopboard in the shape of an arc. It is made of concrete, fiberglass, metal, or wood and is 4 feet in length along the inside edge and 4" high by 4½" wide. The inside edge of the stopboard abuts the circumference of the circle.

Figure 16.9. Steeplechase water jump pit.

Figure 16.10. Shot put pad layout.

Figure 16.11. Discus circle and cage layout.

Figure 16.12. Hammer throw circle and cage layout (NCAA)

Because of the potential safety hazard if the thrower loses his or her grip on the projectile, an enclosure is required for the discus and hammer throwing events. (NCAA rules note that even this enclosure cannot guarantee the safety of spectators, competitors, or officials.)

In the landing area, the inside edges of the 2" painted lines that designate the "throwing sector" (inside which the throw must land), start at the circumference of the circle.

There are also some basic differences between high school and college throwing facilities' rules for construction. The percentage of slope from the throwing area to the landing area is a maximum of 1% for high school, while for college it is not more than .1%. In high school, the throwing sector for shot put is 65.5o and for discus it is 60o. College has a 40o throwing sector for all three throwing events. For the discus, the NCAA recommends a larger enclosure than the high school rule book. The NCAA rules require an entrance/exit at the rear of the enclosure. (The high school section of Figure 16.11 shows a typical layout for the discus enclosure with a recommended minimum clearance of 10 feet. The clearance can be increased to 11 feet, with a maximum front opening of 24 feet. College rules recommend only one size enclosure, as shown.)

For the collegiate hammer throw, the enclosure is basically the same as the discus enclosure. The only difference is that the hammer throw enclosure has movable panels at the front. These panels are a minimum of 13.78 feet and a maximum of 14.27 feet in length. To allow the fixed end of a movable panel to be 9.35 feet outside the sector line, the stationary front fence posts must be further apart than they are for the discus enclosure. For a right-handed thrower, the panel on the left is closed to 4.92 feet inside the left sector line and the panel on the right is opened parallel to the right sector line. This arrangement is reversed for left-handed throwers. The movable panels in Figure 16.12 are set up for a right-handed thrower.

Javelin

The javelin runway for both high school and college competition is 120 feet long and 13.12 feet wide. The length is measured from the center of the foul line arc. For college, the first 70 feet of the runway is 4 feet wide (designated by a painted line) and then widens to 13.12 feet for the last 50 feet. NCAA specifications recommend that the runway be constructed with an artificial surface, such as asphalt or concrete. If an artificial surface is used, the runway should extend 3.28 feet past the foul line.

The foul line (high school "scratch line") is 2.76" wide, painted white, and flush with the runway. High school recommends a metal, plastic, or wood band, while NCAA specifies a painted line.

The landing area is grass and its boundaries are determined by marking lines from a point at the center of the foul line arc which is 26.25 feet back from its circumference. These lines continue through the outside edge of the foul line and outward as far as required for the competitive level of the throwers. All painted lines are determined by marking lines from a point at the center of the foul line arc which is 26.25 feet back from its circumference. These lines continue through the outside edge of the foul line and outward as far as required for the competitive level of the throwers. All painted lines are outside the dimensions shown in Figure 16.13.

Figure 16.13. Javelin runway, with artificial runway surface.

16.6c Governing and Sanctioning Bodies

International:

International Amateur Athletic Federation
17, Rue Princesse Florestine
MC 98000 Monaco
011-339-330-7070

College:

National Collegiate Athletic Association
6201 College Boulevard
Overland Park, Kansas 66211
(913) 399-1906

High School:

National Federation of State High School Associations
11724 Plaza Circle, Box 20626
Kansas City, Missouri 64195
(816) 464-5400

United States:

USA Track and Field
One Hoosier dome, Suite 140
Indianapolis, Indiana 46225
(317) 216-0500

REFERENCES:

Track Construction Manual. U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association, Inc. 1996.

Before designing or building a track, send for this book for more details on track design and construction. To receive a publication, write or call:

U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association
3525 Ellicott Mills Drive, Suite N
Ellicott City, Maryland 21043
(410) 418-4875

 Figure 16.6 Track layout. Figure 16.7. Traditional high jump layout. Figure 16.8. Long jump/triple jump layout. Figure 16.9. Steeplechase water jump pit. Figure 16.10. Shot put pad layout. Figure 16.11. Discus circle and cage layout. Figure 16.12. Hammer throw circle and cage layout (NCAA) Figure 16.13. Javelin runway, with artificial runway surface.