CSU’s new track: State-of-the-art jewel

CSU track

CSU’s newly refurbished track and field facility is a state-of-the-art gem – and worth the wait.

The much-delayed project took nearly two years to complete and left most of the athletes on CSU’s highly regarded teams without a place to practice or compete in 2017-18. But when he saw the finished product, Rams coach Brian Bedard was thrilled with the result.

“This is the best facility in the region; there’s nothing like it in the area,” Bedard said. “It was a long, sometimes-frustrating process, but the finished product is great.”

Making it the best

The Jack Christiansen Memorial Track, last renovated and dedicated in 1990, had fallen into disrepair after 28 years of service. When the $2.4 million renovation project was approved two years ago, Bedard worked with Doug Max – who preceded Bedard as CSU’s track coach and now serves as senior associate athletic director for facilities and event management – to make sure the track was the best around.

“We wanted to have a facility that allows our athletes to train and compete at the highest level, and we achieved that goal,” Max said. “It’s one of the best facilities in the country.”

Only certified track in the region

Bedard wanted the new track to be certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations, making it the only IAAF- and NCAA-sanctioned facility in the region. To do that, the facility had to be significantly revamped.

Features include:

  • 48-inch wide running lanes instead of the standard 42 inches.
  • A post-tension concrete base, which should last 50 years. The previous base was asphalt and needed frequent repair.
  • A newly configured sprints setup that allows events like the 100-meter and 110-meter hurdles to start on opposite sides of the track to better deal with wind and allow for swifter completion of events.
  • Two runways for the long jump, triple jump and pole vault instead of just one. As a result, meets can be completed much faster.

No track? No problem for Rams

The completed product makes it easier to forget a frustrating spring that had runners and jumpers training at Rocky Mountain High School – with the athletes transporting themselves to daily practices – while the throwers were on campus. And CSU could not host either of its traditional home meets and was forced to celebrate “senior day” at a meet in Greeley.

CSU track
John Renner with Line Design explains the process of painting stripes on CSU’s new track to head coach Brian Bedard, center, and assistants Karim Abdel Wahab, left, and Ryan Baily.

Despite those challenges, the Rams had a remarkable year. The men were second and the women third in the Mountain West, and the men’s team produced three All-Americans and the women’s team one.

“The athletes handled it all great – probably better than the coaches,” Bedard said.

Recruiting boost

Bedard is hoping the new track will allow CSU to host more meets, including conference championships and, perhaps, a major college/high school invitational. And it definitely should boost recruiting.

“Over the last two or three years we haven’t shown recruits our track because it was so run down,” he said. “Now we have something really special to showcase.”

No longer open to the public

One big change: The track will no longer be open to the public. Vandals had done considerable damage to the track over the past several years, and non-CSU runners often clogged lanes when the Rams were trying to practice.

CSU opened the track to the public previously because part of the money used to fund the project came from the City of Fort Collins. Since CSU footed the entire bill this time around, Bedard wants to make sure the facility remains state-of-the-art for many years to come.