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ATHLETICS Southland is looking to raise $900,000 to replace its ageing athletics track at Surrey Park.

“To us and athletics [the track] is extremely important,” Athletics Southland chairman Chris Knight said.

“The Athletics New Zealand CEO had also said it was an extremely critical track… it is part of their strategic plan to have an all-weather track in all centres in New Zealand.”

The Surrey Park athletics track is the only all-weather track in Southland. The next nearest one was in Dunedin.

The original track at Surrey Park was laid in 1991 and was “topped up” in 2003 to extend its lifespan for 10 years.

That was 15 years ago, and the track had now deteriorated badly, particularly since the end of last season, Mr Knight said. The top layer was lifting off and bubbled in places when it rained.

“They had done minor repairs over the years, but the track was now beyond repair.”

The track’s poor condition meant there was increased risk of injury to athletes, he said.

The Invercargill City Council owned the land, but the track was owned by Athletics Southland.

Mr Knight said not only was the track used by Athletics Southland’s 600 members, but it was also used by Southland Stags rugby and Southern Steel netball teams for fitness work as well as for touch rugby, hockey and the general public.

In addition to replacing the ageing track, the group also wanted to extend the back straight so races could be run on the back and front straights at the same time to better utilise the track and lessen the wear and tear to the track, Mr Knight said.

They also planned to install a javelin run, which they did not have at present, and replace the pole line around the inside of the track to meet current standards.

Athletics Southland had raised 10% of the funds needed for the project, and was now looking to community funders for assistance to help raise the balance.

Mr Knight said if they were able to secure the necessary funding, work on the track would begin in August next year and be completed by December.

While the track work was being done, Athletics Southland members would have to travel to Dunedin for competition and find another venue for training, he said.

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