Athletics Field and Running Track Construction

Specialists in sports construction since 1991, S&C Slatter are experts in athletics field and running track Construction. From design and build to ongoing maintenance we are experts in athletics track construction and repairs.

We work with clients at a community, national and global level, and our experienced staff have worked on athletics projects such as the Manchester and Glasgow Commonwealth games.

Read on to learn more about outstanding athletics facilities or call us to discuss your project needs.

Running track construction

We work closely with our athletics partners Tarkett/Beynon Sports, world-leading manufacturers of track and field surfaces, constructing porous, sandwich and full polyurethane track systems.

Whether you’re looking for an 8-lane polymeric athletics track to UK Athletics Licence Level 2 Competition Grade complete with field athletics, or a 4-lane running track for school sports, we work with you based on your needs, limitations and requirements.

Our all-encompassing in-house departments across design and planning, construction, civil engineering and maintenance allow us to deliver at every stage of the sports construction process.

We are always happy to discuss new athletics facilities and offer a free initial consultation. Call or email for an informal chat about your sporting needs.

Athletics track resurfacing

For running tracks that have come to the end of their useful life, we can carry out a full or partial resurfacing of the track, utilising and improving the existing infrastructure whilst implementing a new surfacing system.

Prior to the need for a full resurface, regular maintenance will maximise the lifespan of your pitch, while ensuring optimum performance and safety. Our dedicated maintenance division can advise on what steps can be taken to repair and refresh your athletics track.

How to build an athletics track

The running track construction process can be broken down into 9 key steps:

1. Design and planning
The initial stage of the process is developing and finalising the design of your athletics track, prior to obtaining planning permission. Once planning permission is granted, technical drawings and specifications are created ready for construction.

2. Environmental considerations
Environmental mitigation is becoming a top priority for many organisations and governing bodies. We can incorporate various measures into the design, such as the management of water run-off and drainage.

3. Health and safety
A thorough plan should be in place to ensure a safe construction site, employing the latest best practice to meet all legislative requirements for running track construction.

4. Earthworks
Groundworks are undertaken to prepare the land and provide that all important foundation for the new track. This will follow the necessary surveys, reports and designs approved in the design and planning stage and includes work such as earth excavation and stripping topsoil.

5. Drainage
The design of drainage will differ depending on whether the surface of the running track being constructed is porous or non-porous. Appropriate drainage systems will be implemented to support the chosen track type and ensure that poor weather won’t compromise performance.

6. Sub-base and base
As with the drainage system, the design and materials used in any sub-base or base will depend on the type of track being constructed, for example a porous polyurethane track will generally be laid over a rubber granule base, supported by a a porous aggregate sub-base.

7. Shock absorbancy layer (if applicable)
Whilst many running track surfaces have inherent shock absorbency in the materials used, sandwich tracks utilise an additional EPDM layer, which provides enhanced shock absorbency and life span when compared to porous systems.

8. Athletics track surface
There are variety of surfaces to choose from, such as a porous track system, sandwich track system or full polyurethane system. We can advise which is best suited to you based on the level of use, competition and cost.

9. Ancillary equipment
Ancillary equipment includes items like hurdles, hammer and discuss netting, as well as the construction of fencing, floodlighting, spectator areas and pavilions.

Get in touch with us to discuss your running track construction.

What’s the difference between porous, sandwich track and full polyurethane running track system?

There are a variety of surfaces to choose from for your athletic track, each suited to different levels of performance, durability, cost and maintenance required.

Porous track systems

Porous running track systems are the most common synthetic track surfaces in the UK. The system comprises of an SBR granular rubber base layer, with a coloured EPDM textured spray applied to the wearing course layer. Durable and economical, it’s understandable why this is the most popular athletics track type and is widely used for recreational and competitive use on a community level – perfect for schools, universities and clubs.

As the name suggests, these tracks are designed so that water will flow through the surface into the drainage system, while allowing moisture to escape.

Sandwich track system

Sandwich running tracks are non-porous systems that combine elements of both porous tracks and Full PU ‘solid’ track systems, delivering the durability and performance closer to the latter, at a lower cost base.

An EPDM granulate is cast over the SBR rubber granular base, prior to the application of a polyurethane top coating, delivering enhanced shock absorbency and life span when compared to a porous track system.

Sandwich track systems are suitable for international athletics and higher hours of use than non-porous systems, so are perfect for high-level training and competition in clubs and stadia.

Full Polyurethane (PU) solid track system

Solid PU systems are designed for high level competition, high intensity use facilities to Olympic standard. The base layer consists of a polyurethane elastomer flood coat with cast rubber granulate. A further flood layer of polyurethane with EPDM rubber granulate is then applied to the initial layer to complete the system.

Whilst more costly than sandwich and porous track systems, the benefit of solid tracks is that they provide optimum durability and elasticity, requiring less maintenance, weathering heavy spike use and delivering performance required and expected of elite athletics tracks.


Non-porous athletics tracks

Both sandwich track and full polyurethane systems are non-porous athletics tracks, meaning that the water does not penetrate the track and is instead removed by gravitational flow and slope through to the surface drain system. It’s crucial to the performance of these tracks that both the design and installation is correct with appropriate drainage and base aggregate to remove water from above and below the surface.

Running Track Construction

How much does it cost to build an athletics track?

With the wide variety of surfaces and specifications available, there’s not a simple answer to this. The biggest factors in price will be the chosen surface type and required number of lanes.

For example, the average cost of an 8-lane 400m running track with full PU polyurethane solid surface will usually be in the region of £900,000, where a 2-lane 400m running track with a porous surface will start at around £265,000.

Generally speaking, an 8-lane 400m athletics track will be between £540,000 - £900,000, though there are a number of factors which can vastly impact the overall cost of athletics track construction.

These factors include:
- Number of lanes required
- Scope of groundworks required
- Chosen athletics track surface system
- Environmental mitigation methods
- Additional sporting features e.g. in-field athletics, long jump areas, sprint straights
- Floodlighting, fencing and equipment requirements
- Ancillary equipment (team shelters, pavilions, spectator areas)

Civil engineering work is nearly always required in support of sports construction, whether this be access pathways and hardstandings, or new roadways and car parks. This may need to be factored into your overall development costs.

The cost for athletics track resurfacing is often significantly lower, due to much of the infrastructure already being in place. For example, sandwich track systems can be refurbished through retexturizing the top coating.

Get in touch if you’d like an example of a detailed breakdown of costs for a specific athletics track surface, or a quote on the cost of building a running track based on your needs.

How long does it take to build an athletics track?

Once the project has progressed through the design and planning stage (usually the longest part of the project’s progress) a bespoke construction program will be agreed.

The typical length of time on-site to construct a new 8-lane 400m running track is generally between 10-12 weeks, with resurfacing in the region of 6-8 weeks.

What funding is available for running track construction?

Whilst many leisure operators, clubs, schools and universities choose to fund their athletics tracks privately or through capital expenditure, there are alternative funding options available.

Government Grants
Sport England has a number of funding options available which community and elite facilities may be eligible for. For clubs or organisations with facilities that benefit your local community, there may be grants available directly from your local council. Check your local or regional council page for more information on what may be available in your area.

Not all organisations and project types will be eligible for such grants, and competition will be high – so it’s worth checking early on in the process. These grants can vary in size and may need to be supported by private or community fundraising efforts.

Sports Operating Leases
Private funding options may be more suited to your needs, such as operating leases, which you can find out more about on our funding page, or by checking out our recent work with the John Madejski Academy, who utilised an operating lease to fund their 3G artificial turf pitch, offsetting the cost with pitch hire.

How long will an athletics track last for?

Running tracks usually have a lifespan of between 7-10 years, however in this time, the amount of usage and maintenance they require will differ by surface type.

On average, running tracks will require a professional clean every 3 years, re-marking every 7 years and a surface re-spray or re-topping after 7-10 years (though they may also require minor repairs and resurfacing in areas of heavy use during this time).

The above is based on:

  • 50,000 hours of athlete use per year for a porous running track

  • 100,000 hours of athlete use per year for a sandwich running track

  • 150,000 hours of athlete use per year for a solid PU running track.

Fewer or higher hours of usage on a specific surface may extend or reduce the expected lifespan.

How do you maintain a running track?

The most common problems found on athletics track stem from excessive wear and user damage, though vandalism, poor repairs or a poor initial installation can demand more comprehensive maintenance.

A track maintenance programs should be implemented based on the surface type, location and hours of use. Failure to maintain an athletics track properly can lead to cracks, separation, delamination, surface bubbling and separation – all of which can become major safety hazards for those using the facilities.

Moss and plant growth can also be a common issue with porous tracks, so it’s important that these are treated regularly to prevent growth.

Our dedicated maintenance division work with over 600 sites nationwide and can create a bespoke maintenance program for your surface, carrying out expert repairs when required.

What running tracks are suitable for elite sport?

Full PU (polyurethane) solid track systems are the preferred surface choice for elite athletics.

Sandwich ‘hybrid’ track systems are however suitable for international competition.

How can I get my track TrackMark accredited?

TrackMark is UK Athletic’s quality assurance scheme for outdoor track and field athletics and is necessary for clubs or competition providers who wish to organise competitions at licence level 1 or 2.

Licence Level 2 competitions are higher standard competitions, including:

Area Championships, Scottish District Championships, BUCS Championships, BMC Elite & Grand Prix, Celtic Cup, HC Championships, CAU Championships, HC Age Group Championships, LEAP, Loughborough Match, National School Championships, Schools International, UK School Games, Celtic International

Licence Level 1 competitions are more community level, including:

Open Meetings, Local, County and Area Leagues, Trophy Meetings, County Championships, BMC Academy & Regional Events, Youth Development League, Inter County Individual & CE Meetings

We can arrange for testing to be carried out based on your accreditation needs and incorporate this into the cost of the track.

The cost of testing is usually between £1500 - £5000 depending on track standard.

Running tracks and athletics facilities constructed by S&C Slatter

With 30 years’ experience in sports construction, S&C Slatter are experts in the design, construction and maintenance of athletics facilities, including porous and non-porous athletics tracks, field athletics, long-jumps and sprint straights, from community to elite level specification.

If you have any further questions on athletics track construction, or would like to discuss your project, please get in touch.

For more information call 01635 34521 or email