In the last post I pointed out:
a. that the scarcity of tracks in Scotland, not just in the Glasgow area, is a disgrace for a sport that has done so much for the country in international competition and which does so much for the younger generation. It is also of course a significant factor in the health of the community. Nevertheless we have lost so many tracks that training as a club is difficult. I pointed out that Falkirk is looking for someone to take over the track at Grangemouth which is the only facility in Scotland capable of holding a full international athletics programme. There is a dearth of facilities.
b. The cost of athletics has soared and continues to soar to the extent that one at least one major club in Scotland is running at a deficit. Funding the running of a club is a full time job in 2024.
Because of these two facts, and the fact that there are clubs with no track training facility of their own, and the fact that clubs with their own track are having to pay big bills to keep access to them, there is a case for clubs to share a track. However, although there are several local authority tracks attached to schools, they (a) tend to be smaller facilities meant for single school use only, and (b) are also tightly enclosed areas because of the lack of space, and (c) use the infield area for football matches which are therefor out of bounds for throwing events.
The tradition of athletic clubs welcoming in members of other clubs as casual visitors for training has been well established and I have mentioned Davie Kerr of Garscube and Tom O’Reilly of Springburn training at Mountblow and Davie Cairns at Whitecrook while I trained at times at Huntershill, Springburn when I lived in Lenzie.
With that in mind we can look at the current situation at St Peter’s track. I have spoken to various club members over the last five weeks and exchanged emails with others and while they were not unanimous in their opinions, they were all of the opinion that the current set up of track sharing is not of any great benefit to our club, but rather could even be considered the opposite. It is a narrow four-lane track with six in the home straight.
CAPACITY: The most common comment was that the track is too small for two independent clubs to train on. Training sessions are not usually attended by a small number of runners, it is difficult, with the best will in the world, to have two separate senior packs training in a four lane track. It is one thing welcoming a few members of another club on training night but a totally different thing to have a whole club come along every Tuesday night. Our club members – or those I have spoken to – have a degree of frustration with that aspect of things.
Athletes mixing with each other and exchanging information is always a good thing and the banter back and forth is always a feature of inter-club relations. However if we consider the comments above then track/venue sharing can also present its own problems. Where a significantly bigger club is using the training premises of a smaller club it will always work to their advantage. It might be a better option if both clubs agreed a strategy of maintaining status quo on their numbers on any training night to the same numbers for each club on the same nights, albeit it would require considerably pre-planning and communication to achieve such a goal, possibly require setting a maximum limits for the main Tuesday night training session, combined with some sort of track programme and lane usage strategy.
The only upside for us is that the visiting athletes pay their money. But that needn’t be the only case scenario for raising club funds. There are other ways of raising money if that is required.
Whatever the solution is, it needs some serious thought before the summer, when the pressure is for training in the competition months. My own feeling is that any other club sharing our facility will not at always be fully considerate of our needs on what is our own track. Limited access would be OK but regular training for big squads is not necessarily a good thing.
This is not a criticism of any sharing clubs in any way, it is an attempt to sort a situation which is a genuine cause of concern among our members who have made representation to myself.