Athletics tracks for indoor facilities: what are the different types of indoor track available to choose from?
From tracks with flat curves to fixed incline or variable hydraulic banked tracks: the main types of tracks for indoor athletics, for athletes of all levels.
Athletics can be practiced both in outdoor facilities and inside fully covered indoor facilities. As is the case with outdoor facilities, the design and construction of indoor athletics facilities created to host official competitions must also take into consideration the indications provided in the World Athletics "Track and Field Facilities Manual", which will be fully updated in 2021.
Let us take a look at the different types of tracks for indoor athletics facilities and their key features.
Indoor athletics: tracks with flat curves and banked tracks
Athletics tracks for indoor facilities can be classified into two major categories:
- Tracks with flat curves: the synthetic surface of the track rests directly on the floor of the structure, which may be made from asphalt or concrete. Flat curves without any incline do not counterbalance the centrifugal force generated by the athlete as they pass through the curve, and, for this reason, they are not suitable for athletics competitions or professional training.; Iinstead, they are recommended for recreational use or amateur training purposes.
- Banked tracks: the synthetic surface of the track rests on a raised structure and the incline of the curves balances the centrifugal force generated by the athletes. Banked tracks are mandatory for facilities used to host athletic competitions or for professional training.
What is the difference between fixed and variable banked tracks in indoor athletics facilities?
Tracks with banked curves can be divided into two types: fixed incline and variable incline tracks. Let us look at the differences in more detail.
Tracks with fixed incline curves
Tracks with fixed incline curves are suitable for athletics competitions and for professional-level training. However, the use of this type of track is not recommended for amateur athletes. Indoor athletics tracks with fixed incline curves can be subdivided into four distinct types:
- moving tracks: the surface of the track is installed on a steel structure with plywood panels, which are placed directly on the floor of the installation in order to keep the track level and prevent alterations to the original configuration. Structures designed in this way are easier to assemble, dismantle and store, leaving the space free for engaging in other sports or activities. Moving tracks are recommended for multi-purpose facilities, which have adequate space for storing elements of the track.
- Tracks that can be dismantled: the track surface rests on a structure made from steel and wood, installed over a pit with a depth of 30 cm. Tracks that can be dismantled fall into two types: those that can be dismantled completely (both the curves and the parterre) or only partially dismantled. This is to facilitate maintenance of the facility in order to move the track to another sports facility, or for removal at end-of life. Tracks that can be dismantled are structures intended for long-term use, and are recommended for facilities dedicated exclusively to athletics, but which may occasionally be used to host other types of activities or sports.
- Permanent tracks made from steel/wood: These tracks are characterised by a permanent steel and plywood structure laid over a pit measuring 10 cm in depth. Unlike concrete or asphalt solutions, tracks with a metal structure maintain their dimensional accuracy over time and are easy to dismantle at the end of their life, leaving the ground space they occupied immediately available for new use. Permanent steel and wood tracks are suitable for sports facilities used exclusively for athletics and can be assembled in a few days.
- Permanent tracks made from concrete or asphalt: These types of track are only suitable for smaller-category athletics competitions because they rarely meet the dimensional tolerances required by FIDAL (the Italian Athletics Federation) or by World Athletics. The facility in which they are installed cannot be used for other sports or activities.
Unlike permanent concrete and asphalt tracks, moving permanent tracks with metal structures that can be dismantled do not require building work either during the process of construction or dismantling, and provide a suitably elastic response for improved comfort and athletic performance.
Variable hydraulic banked tracks
Variable hydraulic banked tracks represent the evolution of tracks with inclined curves: the track structure, which is made from steel and wooden panels, is permanent, and the hydraulic movement of the curves is regulated by a PLC system, to set the incline in accordance with the World Athletics parameters. Thanks to their fully retractable structure, in the rest position, these tracks can lie flush with the external flooring: this enables secondary sporting events as well as non-sporting events to be held inside the same facility. Unlike tracks that can be dismantled, variable hydraulic banked tracks eliminate storage costs as well as assembly and disassembly time and costs. Variable hydraulic banked tracks are suitable for competitions and for both professional and amateur training, regardless of the age of the competitors and the level of athletic training they have, because the incline of the curves can also be set at intermediate heights.
Why choose prefabricated rubber flooring for an indoor athletics track?
The surface of an indoor athletics track can either be covered with poured-in-place systems or with prefabricated surfaces. Regarding prefabricated surfaces, it is worth mentioning that these come with several key advantages that make them ideal for indoor athletic disciplines:
- athletic performance of the highest levels.
- high elasticity and robustness.
- easy repairs and cleaning.
- excellent track aesthetics and uniformity of thickness.
A prefabricated rubber surface also represents an optimal solution for covering tracks in indoor athletics facilities from the perspective of air quality and safety. In a fully indoor facility, avoiding the potential exposure of athletes (and members of the public) to volatile compounds is crucially important.
MONDO prefabricated tracks are GREENGUARD Gold certified, which makes them among the most suitable on the market for indoor installations because they guarantee minimal VOC emissions. Furthermore, MONDO prefabricated rubber surfaces also comply with the European standard (EN 130501), which serves to classify and certify the behaviour of construction materials when exposed to fire.
Want to find out more about MONDO solutions for indoor athletics facilities? Contact our technical team.