Almost two years of frustration will come to an end for Lucan Harriers Athletics Club on Sunday when they finally unveil their new running track to the public.
The west Dublin club will mark the occasion with a five-mile road race starting at the club and ending with the first-ever competitive lap of the brand new track.
More than 500 people are expected to tog out on the day, and up to 100 club members will volunteer. All are welcome to sign up in advance for the race, which kicks off at 11am.
The unveiling of the state-of-the-art facility concludes a renovation project that began in early 2018, when the club engaged Crawford Contracts to renovate the grounds on the Newcastle Road.
The company went into administration three months later and it took several months before the project could be resumed with McSweeney Sports Surfaces.
It’s a huge relief for the club who, notwithstanding the financial cost of going two years without a running track, have been forced to turn away members due to the shortage of facilities.
The club have incurred the financial penalty of renting the Weston Hockey Club pitches and school halls for juveniles’ training, while adult members have had to train elsewhere.
“It was very challenging because we have almost 200 juvenile members who, obviously, you can’t take out onto the road,” chairperson Marie Collins tells the Dublin Gazette.
“The senior members were able to get by – it was very difficult. But at least they could run on the roads, go in the parks, etc. But with children, you need to have a safe space for them.
“The other impact is that we have a waiting list and we were unable to take as many children as we would have liked last year.
“That has been addressed this year and, now that we’re about to get our track back, we’re in a position to clear our waiting list of juveniles.
“It was very difficult for the club and the children who wanted to join. We want children to join so that was really, really challenging.”
The club can now look to the future with a modern running track that will soon be certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as a competition venue.
Its main purpose will remain, however, as a community hub to promote fitness and athletic recreation for young and old in Lucan and its environs.
“It’s a massive upgrade. [The old track] served us well while we had it but it had really fallen into disrepair and we had flooding issues on the track.
“It was fine if we had a spell of dry weather. But during winter, you’d go home from training with half the track in your shoes. This is state-of-the-art – it’s absolutely fantastic.
“It’s competition standard. It’s IAAF-standard. That’s really exciting for the members and the entire community – it’s a fabulous piece of infrastructure.”