IN 2017, MIRAMAS, A MUNICIPALITY IN THE BOUCHES-DU-RHONE DEPARTMENT IN SOUTHERN FRANCE, WAS NAMED THE “EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF SPORT”.
IN 2018, WITH THE NEW MIRAMAS MÉTROPOLE STADIUM, THE CITY ACQUIRED ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TRACK AND FIELD COMPLEXES IN EUROPE.
Ten years after the municipality of Miramas began promoting sports participation and hosting sporting events, the city finally inaugurated the crown jewel of its athletic arsenal: the Miramas Métropole Stadium, the third largest track and field stadium in Europe. With its eight-colour, 200m track, paved in MONDO flooring; its run-up tracks for jumps; and its area for throwers, the stadium has much to offer residents and athletes in the region and beyond. And this before even mentioning the feature that sets it apart from every other stadium in the world: a 330m warmup ring beneath the seats with a 120m straightaway.
The stadium opened its doors for the first time on 19 October 2018, with a three-day inauguration. The first to come and compete in the “Usépiades” athletic meets were 1,200 students from the region. Several excited students from the sports and animation department of one of the city's high schools ran an inaugural lap around the track.
Saturday 20 October was more focused on track and field with 400 young athletes – rookies, young men and women, and cadets – competing in the first 1000m race. The opening event was capped by the presence of the European record holder in the 100m and world champion of the 4 x 100m relay, Christine Arron of France.
On Sunday 21 October, families and residents participated in numerous athletic workshops and more. This third day of the inauguration focused on the stadium's enormous potential. In addition to participating in basketball and rugby workshops, visitors enjoyed athletic workshops for people with disabilities, virtual games, and even an introduction to climbing. The day ended with a performance by the city's cheerleaders accompanied by the municipal marching band.
As the third track and field stadium in Europe, the Miramas Métropole Stadium has everything possible to attract amateur athletes. With outstanding thermal and acoustic conditions, the stadium is also covered in a double membrane that protects the terrain from adverse weather and filters UV rays for natural light that is not glaring. In addition, the stadium includes two platforms for the pole vault, two for the long jump, and one for the high jump, a space for the shot put, and more. Everything was created so the stadium could host numerous disciplines. The crowning glory remains the 200m circular track, which sports 6 colours, and its 60m centre track, which boasts 8 colours. Featuring 13.5mm thick MONDO Sportflex Super X 720—the same used in the world championships in London in 2017— these tracks absorb impact and return energy, enabling athletes to save their strength and avoid injury.
From 16 to 17 February 2019, the stadium debuted with the Francia Élite Championships. The challenge for the organisers was to have athletes test and experience the superior quality of this new stadium. “We gave them the opportunity to take advantage of an available date in the calender of competitions, the kind of date that all coaches look for for their athletes as it comes before the major competitions (like the Olympic Games in Tokyo),” explained Patrice Ouvrier-Buffet, the stadium's technical director. Approximately 600 athletes attended the event, and the stadium was lauded by all. “This is the most that can be done for indoor events. Here we can do 110m of indoor hurdles, something that's usually impossible, simply because all of this doesn't exist anywhere else! The athletes that will train here are lucky. They will have access to the best conditions in which to improve their performance”,” said Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, European champion of the 110m outdoor hurdles.
The stadium has, by now, proven itself with both professional and amateur athletes. And the city's athletic strategy seems to be working. Frédéric Vigouroux, mayor of Miramas, is very pleased. “The recent opening of the Miramas Métropole Stadium represents another step in the plan to turn Miramas into an athletic hub.”