Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers were consulted in the early stages of a new ActiveTrack which was to be built as part of the Sowerby Park and Sports Village project in North Yorkshire.
Initially the club raised the idea of having a traditional 400m track but there wasn’t enough funding or space to accommodate this. However, the council were keen to provide something for the club and engaged with specialist architects.
The resulting vision was based around a 1km long, 3m wide ActiveTrack with a 6 lane, 100m sprint straight and plenty of additional ecological features and solar lighting to attract not just runners but also bikers, walkers, dog walkers and wheelchair users. The meandering loops and off road sections, as well as planted trees and meadows make it an attractive place to come and enjoy. The track is accessible 24/7 and for those taking their first steps into running they can use the track whenever suits them.
Funding for the £280k project was partially from 'Section 106' (from developers when building new housing), and also the European Regional Development Fund. Since it was installed, Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers have increased club membership by around 40%.
Robert Burn – Chair at Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers said.
“As a club we use it for training and time trials and the length of the loop, and the two-lane width means that we can safely have 5 or 6 groups at training without any safety concerns.”
Previously in the winter months club members would train on the roads and face all the hazards that shared runners and cars present. Now they can run traffic and kerb free with embedded solar surface lighting. Due to its looped nature, anyone who is struggling or picks up an injury is always in sight and it’s a short walk back.
“In fact, the ActiveTrack has been so successful that we have even have other local athletic clubs make a special trip to Sowerby for their training nights.”
Lisa Wilson, Communities Manager - Hambleton District Council said,
“The ActiveTrack is always being used and we are now looking to establish a weekly Junior parkrun at the site. We are already planning for another similar facility in North Allerton.”