Tartan track

Tartan track

Tartan track is the trademarked all-weather synthetic track surfacing for athletics made of polyurethane. It lets athletes compete in bad weather without serious performance loss and improves their results over other surfaces. It also provides a more consistent surface for competition even under optimum weather. Such tracks have become the standard for most elite competitions.


Only shoe-spikes which cause minimal damage to the surface are allowed to be worn on Tartan and other man-made tracks. The most common specification is that spikes be of "Pyramid" shape and do not exceed 6 mm (1/4 inch) in length. However every track has the right to set its own requirement and spikes may be checked by clerks or officials, resulting in penalties for athletes who wear non-conforming footwear.These criteria also apply to the fixing spikes for sprinters' blocks.


Because of the porous and self draining nature of some tracks, athletes are not allowed to use materials such as sand, chalk or talc to make marks on the surface. These substances clog the pores and encourage mold and moss growth.

It is preferred that tracks are not marked. Many wise track hosts hand out small objects like tennis balls cut in half to provide for necessary temporary marks. Marks made using adhesive tape or duct tape might give the best adhesion, but those marks also leave a residue if they are not removed quickly. In very wet conditions it is common for athletes to secure their marks with a small safety pin, although this may be in breach of track regulations. Pins should of course be removed after the competition.


1968 Summer Olympics at Mexico City was the first Olympic Games to use the Tartan track surface in athletics. The original tradename "Tartan" came from the manufacturer 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing), manufacturers of Scotch Tape and continuing the Scotch name tradition. Those original tracks required mercury as a catalyst, later found to be an environmental hazard. An independent company has perfected the process without Mercury. There are now lots of competitors in the "all-weather track" industry. In fact, the "Tartan" tracks of the late 1960s were the second generation of all-weather track surfacing. Before that, there were several tracks constructed of rubber (usually tire shavings) and asphalt.

There are a few on-line directories of the locations of all-weather tracks including runtrackdir.com [http://www.runtrackdir.com/] in the United Kingdom and trackinfo.org [http://www.trackinfo.org] in the Western United States.

An original Tartan track is still in place (though horribly mistreated) at "Speed City" [http://www.speedcityera.com/] San Jose State University on a satellite to the campus at 10th Street and Alma.

External links

* [http://www.tartan-aps.com Tartantrack.com]
* [http://www.teamtartan.org Teamtartan.org]

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