Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: The ongoing saga of the Mardyke athletics track - March 2024

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The ongoing saga of the Mardyke athletics track - March 2024


Earlier this month on the 11th of March, UCC announced that they had to close the athetlics track due to safety concerns. 

They released this statement... "There are now over 15 full rips down to the underlying surface and perhaps up to 20 per cent of the track with large bubbles on it – which will lead to further tears. We were advised by Sports Lab to cut away all rips and bubbles but on looking further at this we all agreed that the scale of cutting would be too high to sustain our operations safely. We cannot allow students/staff and external users continue to use the tack in such conditions. "The underlying surface is very wet and slippery and cannot be repaired at this time. The scale of the repairs is such that the full track will probably need replacing in the right weather conditions.” 

All of this was reported in the Echo article HERE and it seems accurate. 

As can be seen from the photo above, the track layer is obviously losing its adhesion to the surface below and it likely to break up and become a trip hazard.

The track surface was laid in late 2011 so it's just over 12 years old. I would have thought it would have lasted longer than this but maybe not? Did the floods of 2009 have an impact on the moisture in the subsurface? Who knows.

That was fine until Dylan O'Connell of the Echo wrote this headline on the 12th of March in this Echo article...

Think about what the headline says... all of the adults and juveniles that are members of athletic clubs in Cork City and county can't train because the Mardyke track is closed! It's complete nonsense of course.

In terms of adults, the vast majority of the club members are runners and they don't go anywhere near the Mardyke track to train. Any runners that were using it can easily make alternative arrangements now that the evenings are getting longer.

On the 21st of March, the Claire Byrne show on RTE radio ran will the same incorrect headline... "Why thousands of athletes in Cork are without a running track to train on"

They refer to it as a 'running track' which it isn't. It's an athletics track which is an important distinction. The bulk of running is done on the weekend in the form of long slow runs on greenways, pathways and quiet country roads. An athletics track is used for short fast intervals by runners and they can find alternatives.

The adults that really need an athletics track to train are those involved in track events like sprints & middle distance e.g. 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m. The truth is that the number of track & field senior athletes is very small but they still need some place to train.

The biggest losers in this will be the juvenile athletes. There should have been doing competitions on an athletics track for the summer and that's for club members as well as for schools competitions. In terms of disruption, the number of juveniles impacted may be large but nowhere near the 8,600 claimed.

Why the fibs? It's a good narrative to put out there to put pressure on politicians to get involved. 

Athletics Ireland... During the month, the CEO of Athletics Ireland Hamish Adams meet with UCC to discuss the situation and they released this statement. Maybe he just popped down from Dublin for a chat but I would assume the question of money and who is going to pay for a new surface came up. I'm sure UCC would be delighted if someone else paid for the new surface.

Irish Independent... It looked as if a week ago a solution had been found but Cathal Dennehy wrote this is the Irish Independent on Wed 27th March... "Hopes that the Mardyke track in Cork would be repaired and reopened in the coming months have been dashed after UCC confirmed that it will require a complete resurfacing, renbdering it out of action in the "short to medium term". The article also mentions that UCC are dealing with a claim from a user at the facility.

In conclusion...  There doesn't look like there is any easy solution. Looking at Google, the travel times from Cork City to the athletics track in Newcastle West in Co Limerick is 1h 15m so traveling there by bus might be an option for competitions?

Someone did mention to me how if you look at other sporting organisations like the GAA, FAI and a host of others, they all have their own facilities. In Cork, there is the farcical situation where the Cork Athletics Board have spent several hundred thousand Euros on a 'dedicated' cross country course out by Riverstick which sits idle for most of the year growing grass while there's not a single  athletics track in the city or county to use. You couldn't make it up.


Anonymous said...

Follow the money, or lack of it. AI have been creaming from clubs for so long. And then the levy on non-AI for races. Nothing put back into the sport. Yes other sports have facilities and debt but they have the facilities first and foremost. The debt will be sorted.. AI and Cork Athletics depended on the Universities to bail them out of in-action and now they have been found out. 2nd City in Ireland, biggest County in the Country and no running track.
The majority of road runners are fine but with a past in Cork of producing Olympians we will will find that this will create a major gap in that production line.
It is not up to the Universities to support the runners, that is the job of AI and they have failed for so long.

Anonymous said...

There is an indoor track and 3 outdoor tracks in Tipperary. The tracks very much club led, maybe some Cork clubs or Cork athletics should come together and try find a soloution instead of using a college track which was always the case in Cork.