School pride is important, and the colors run deep in many communities and athletic programs.
But is the running track the right place for a swath of pigment on campus? Possibly; but there are factors to consider.
First; red and black rubber are the most UV stable, hence the overwhelming majority of tracks come in these colors. Blues are fairly UV-stable, but will tend to fade a bit faster than red or black. Exotic colors, like orange and purple look great at first, but they will fade prematurely.
Because of the volumes in which they are produced, the materials to make red and black tracks are also significantly less expensive. Blues can come at a premium of 10-15 percent with other colors adding 15-20 percent, and sometimes more, to the overall cost of a project.
We aren’t dashing all the hopes and dreams of the boosters though. There are other ways to fly the banner of the mascot when choosing a track.
Relay zones with a contrasting color are becoming more and more popular. These cost less than building an entire track with an exotic color, provide a unique, high-end look and alleviate fading concerns because such a small area is covered.
Obviously, due to added labor and the need for surveying, colored relay zones still add a significant cost, just less than an entire colored track.
Another option to consider, especially when black is one of the school colors, is painting the lane lines something other than white. This comes as a negligible cost and looks great when the colors contrast well with black – think yellow or orange.
NCAA regulations do not allow for lane lines to be painted in anything other than while, but high schools are free to use any normal track striping color.
Lastly, relay zone markers and numbers are free to be painted in any color a school desires. Consider adding shadows on the numbers for an added effect.
Lettering adds a minimal cost, and writing a school’s name or “Home of the …” in one of the lanes is another great way to customize a track without adding a major expense.
Athletic facilities should be bold and exciting. Schools should take pride in showing them off, and they should reflect the character and soul of the community. But prudent financial decision making is paramount when public funds are being used. Adding some color to your track can be done with careful consideration of all the factors and options.