Wavertree Athletics Centre, New Madeley Park (Leigh Sports Village), Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre, The University of York Athletics Stadium and The Weir Archer Athletics Centre are celebrating becoming the first five facilities in England to achieve TrackMark accreditation – UK Athletics’ new quality assurance scheme for track and field facilities.
TrackMark was introduced in 2019 and it aims to raise and maintain standards of athletics provision and help ensure that all participants can enjoy athletics in a safe, enjoyable environment.
Central to the accreditation process is a requirement for the facilities to undergo independent, professional track surface and field equipment inspections that assess the facility against published safety and quality standards. Once completed, the reports provide an up to date condition survey and a detailed and time phased action plan designed to help operators ensure that the facility meets minimum standards both now and well into the future.
England Athletics drive the scheme in England and their Facilities Manager, Ed Hunt, alongside a team of national Club Support Managers are on hand to support venue operators work through the TrackMark process. As the process is dependent upon external visits and inspections the process typically takes four to six months to complete, but although the scheme only commenced this year there are already 11 facilities that have already successfully achieved full TrackMark accreditation with a further 130 actively working towards.
England Athletics’ Facilities and Planning Manager, Ed Hunt noted: ‘Modernisation and upgrade works are needed at many ageing athletics tracks throughout the UK to ensure the sustainability and growth of the sport. This is a shared priority for all parties involved and the TrackMark scheme puts in place a structure to simplify the process for venue operators and enable them to identify and plan for any upgrade or maintenance work that is required.’
Ed added: ‘One of the huge positives that is coming out of the scheme is that the professional track and field equipment reports are providing a catalyst for much needed investment.’
Details of the upgrade and refurbishment works that have taken place at the five facilities over the last seven months, include:
Wavertree Athletics Centre – the first venue in the UK to achieve accreditation. Liverpool Harriers were credited with doing an outstanding job in preparing the TrackMark submission for Wavertree and were strongly supported by Liverpool City Council who provided funds for indoor and outdoor track resurfacing and cage modification works. They received their accreditation on 10 April 2019.
Arwell Williams, Club Chairman said: ‘TrackMark has raised the profile and bar for our club as we can now get bigger meetings at our venue. We were awarded the Northern Junior Championships last year and they were so successful that they’ll be coming back this year, which says a lot about the quality of the facility we’ve now got.’
‘The council were supportive with everything we had done, and by investing in our facility, and helping us to achieve TrackMark accreditation have ensured we have a competent facility for the future and longevity for our sport.’ Arwell adds: ‘Lots of clubs are worried about TrackMark’s costs and that they won’t get support from local authorities. We had complete support for all upgrades required, which included adaptions to our hammer cage, and are now able to deliver domestic league and championship competitions.’
Leigh Sports Village – one of the finest hubs for sport, recreation and education in the North West; Leigh Sports Village were the second venue in the UK to achieve accreditation, undergoing a track clean and new cage netting fitted. They received their accreditation on 4 June 2019
Steve Jamson, Club Committee Member at Leigh Harriers Athletics Club, said: ‘As an early adopter of the scheme we did face challenges in terms of using the online portal and contractor inspections, but ultimately the process has provided us with the reassurance that we have a well-managed, well maintained facility that can deliver events at the highest level.’
Chelmsford Sport and Athletic Centre – a facility managed by Chelmsford City Council were early adopters of the TrackMark scheme. After completing the assessment, cage modification works were commissioned to ensure compliance with Unit 2 cage standards. They received their TrackMark accreditation on 4 September 2019.
Laura Spooner, Athletics Manager at Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre, said: ‘Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre has been part of TrackMark since September 2019; we were one of the first venues in the country to be fully accredited. The process was fairly easy, and we’re pleased that the scheme gives clubs and athletes extra confidence in the high standard of our facilities. Many groups already use our centre for training and we’re hoping that TrackMark will help us to attract an even wider range of events here in the future.’
University of York – this facility was completed in June 2015 and was a replacement for the dated Huntington Stadium. As well as providing outstanding facilities for the local club, York Athletic Club, the University are seeking to attract more events and were keen to demonstrate compliance with UKA TrackMark standards. They received their accreditation on 24 September 2019.
Kate Clough, Senior Operations Manager at York Sport Centre, said: ‘I was relatively new in post when I first found out about the TrackMark accreditation scheme; this being one of the first projects I worked on from the start through to completion. After researching and reading up on the process, it was agreed that this was a project of high priority and importance for our facility, the University and City of York Athletics Club, to ensure that our facilities met the required standards as a minimum. To maintain high standards and provide first class facilities for athletes to train and compete; which includes British number 1 shot putter, Scott Lincoln, and javelin throwers, George Davies and Luke Robinson, and to host more athletics events over the coming years.
‘The review process was thorough and detailed conditions surveys listed all upgrade works that were required in a timely plan, which we carried out in full prior to receiving our accreditation. TrackMark has raised the bar for our facility and set new standards and procedures we have put in place for ongoing annual third-party inspection and review.’
Weir Archer Athletics Track – a facility managed by Places for People Leisure Management Ltd. Track resurfacing and cage modifications work were carried out to meet required standards and the venue is now able to host all levels of competition. They received their accreditation 7 October 2019.
Daryl Warren, General Manager at Weir Archer Athletics and Fitness Centre, said: ‘We found the new TrackMark system easy to navigate and process, and the eLearning modules as part of the application were very detailed and informative. Gaining the accreditation ensures and certifies that our facility is maintained to the highest standards, and we can continue to deliver quality athletics events.’
Benefits of TrackMark
- A simple unit-based accreditation process that facility operators can use to demonstrate to hirers, athletes, officials, coaches and parents that their venue is well managed, well maintained and accessible to all users.
- Demonstrates that a venue has met minimum standards of provision stipulated by the National Governing Body for Athletics in the UK.
- Provides operators with independent, professional condition surveys that helps avoid shock areas of expenditure and facilitates prudent medium and long-term investment planning aimed at protecting the long-term future of track and field facilities.
- Adds weight to future funding applications.
- Provides venues with an official UKA TrackMark certificate.
- TrackMark accredited venues help to support athletics clubs to attract more members and build a sustainable future for the sport.
Useful links and further information
For further information on TrackMark and to initiate facility reviews and assessments, contact Ed Hunt at England Athletics email@example.com (for clubs/facilities in England) or Jackie Dudley at UK Athletics TrackMark@uka.org.uk