Major refurbishment of Rugby Athletics Track on the starting blocks
A £230,000 refurbishment of Rugby Athletics Track has been announced by Rugby Borough Council.
Borough-based Bernard's Sports Surfaces has been awarded the contract to carry out the refurbishment, with work set to start next month.
The athletics track, next to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre, opened in 1993 and serves as Rugby and Northampton Athletics Club's training base and home track.
In addition to the athletics club, the track caters for a number of schools and community organisations, while public sessions can also be booked through the leisure centre.
Plans for the refurbishment, which has been funded by a Section 106 contribution for leisure provision, were put on hold at the start of the pandemic.
The plans include the installation of a new, Polytan eight-lane running track and Polytan runways leading to new jump landing pits.
The plans also include a new running rail, adjustable water barrier and 'smart' timing gates, which provide runners with timing and performance data via a smartphone app.
Cllr Jill Simpson-Vince, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, said the refurbishment marked a major investment in the borough's leisure facilities.
"It has been ten years since the last major improvement works took place at Rugby Athletics Track and we have wanted to refurbish the facilities for some time," Cllr Simpson-Vince said.
"The Section 106 contribution for leisure provision allowed us to draw up the plans, but the pandemic meant the work has been on hold.
"The importance of sports and leisure has been highlighted during the pandemic, and with lockdown restrictions gradually lifting, I'm delighted we can now push ahead with the refurbishment at a time when we're all looking forward to spending more time outdoors.
"The council has a long-standing commitment to investing in sports and leisure provision, and the refurbishment of Rugby Athletics Track ensures we have a high-class facility for athletes of all abilities."
Janet Wright, of Rugby and Northampton Athletics Club, welcomed news of the refurbishment.
"There's a great history of athletics and running in Rugby, from Olympic medal winners to our junior club teams achieving national finals," Janet said.
"We have over 500 members based at Rugby and the club uses the track extensively for training, hosting competitions and community events, including holiday clubs, the Rugby Primary Athletics Championships and the Rugby Santa Run.
"As a club, we're really excited to be able to celebrate getting back to our home at the new track in the summer."
Work at the athletics track looks set to take six to eight weeks to complete.
The announcement of the refurbishment follows the council's decision earlier this week to financially support the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre's reopening following lockdown.
GLL, which operates both the leisure centre and Rugby Athletics Track on behalf of the council, had requested support from the council after being forced to close the centre for long-periods during the pandemic.