Track is back.
The brand new track-and-field complex at F.H. Collins Secondary School was unveiled Sept. 1.
Community Services Minister John Streicker said he believes it is the first Canadian outdoor rubberized track North of 60.
“Yukon can stand up to the best of them. You’re going to see some national soccer and track athletes from the Yukon in the coming years and this is a big help,” he said.
The track ring has been upgraded to international standards, accommodating eight lanes of rubberized running track measured at 400 metres.
Inside the track is a bright green, regulation artificial turf soccer field.
“It’s a spectacular facility. It just blows you away,” said Dave Stockdale, representing the Yukon Soccer Association.
The upgraded materials, as well as the standard size of the facilities, will allow Yukon athletes to prepare for competition conditions. Previously athletes have been forced to train on a gravel track, which isn’t compatible with shoe spikes.
The result, according to Athletics Yukon coach and board member Don White, is that track athletes in the Yukon aren’t able to practise for competition conditions — resulting in higher injury risk and a disadvantage compared to other runners.
Special Olympics Yukon athlete Darby McIntyre said he was excited to be able to use spikes on his shoes and practise events like the 5000-metre race or 20-kilometre run.
“It’s really awesome. I’ve only been on these tracks in southern Canada and in the U.S. It’s quite exciting because now I can do more speed work, I can get more experience with my spikes. The small metal spikes can help you go faster and keep you secure on the track,” McIntyre said.
Athletics Yukon has been asking for a track facility since the 1980s, said White.
“I’ve been on the board since 1987. And it’s always been a dream of hope that one day we’ll have a real track,” he said.
Funding was announced in 2018, and was originally slated for completion by fall 2019. Delays were due to a cold fall preventing the laying of the rubber, according to Streicker.
The facility will be able to host elementary and high school competitions at the territorial level. Athletics Yukon is planning on registering the track to World Athletics standards so that it can be used for national track-and-field meets in the future.
The new complex can accommodate steeplechase, long jump, high jump, triple jump, pole vaulting and shotput but doesn’t have a throw area for events like the hammer throw, discus and javelin. White said he hopes that space could be funded by a phase two project.
“The only issue is that we’ve got a track, but we don’t have all the field events coming. We can’t hold any kind of competition here at a national level if we don’t have a throw area,” said White.
Streicker said while additional facilities were considered initially in 2014, the construction circumstances of the build wouldn’t allow them.
“Athletics Yukon have been very strong advocates, and we will stay in conversation with them. We hope to round it out, but we don’t have a date today,” Streicker said.
The final cost of the facility was $8.2 million. The Government of Canada contributed around $6.1 million to the project and the Government of Yukon provided around $2 million.
Contact Haley Ritchie at email@example.com