Hunt Valley, MD--Highly trained and conditioned track athletes garner media attention, and shoe-company endorsements. If they are exceptional, they set world records. Rarely, however, does anyone take notice of those who lay the foundation for their success--the designers and builders of specialized running tracks around the world.
Martin Surfacing, a company that makes indoor and outdoor athletic surfaces, is one of those unsung heros. A far cry from the cinder-covered tracks of old, running surfaces installed by Martin normally consist of several layers of materials, each engineered to impart specific attributes (resiliency, bounce, durability, and aesthetics). The material most often used by Martin's top-of-the-line tracks--a polyurethane system based on Pluracol® polyols supplied by BASF Urethane Chemicals (Mt. Olive, NJ).
"A new running track under construction at a nationally prominent sports complex in Orlando is based on these polyurethane products," notes John Beynon, Martin president and CEO. "The properties possessed by the polyols enable us to design an ideal running surface that meets the exacting specifications of the facility, as well as the guidelines for professional and amateur running tracks."
Performance standards of International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) outdoor tracks include: a force reduction of 35%, modified vertical deformation of 1.1 mm (±0.1), and Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) skid resistance of 69 (±1). Tensile properties are: 0.82 MPa, with elongation at break at 99%.
A licensed surveyor checks the tolerance for each professional-grade track in order to certify it for competition. "When you are designing and building a track that may be the venue for world-class competition, it has to meet very stringent guidelines in the event a world record is set," explains John Schedler, Martin's project manager for the new Orlando sports complex track.
The track Schedler refers to is Martin's ISS 1000 encapsulated system, the primary component of which is polyurethane, covered with a granular material for grip, and then painted with a durable coating. The base surface consists of four inches of crushed stone topped with three inches of asphalt. This is followed by an 8-mm-thick polyurethane layer and a 5-mm layer of spray-applied polyurethane.
"The ISS 1000 is designed to provide a resilient surface that can be used for training or racing," Beynon adds. "Because it provides a precise amount of cushion tailored for training purposes, it's easier on the athlete's legs, reducing common injury problems such as shin splints."