FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The School District 60 track and field meet on the newly resurfaced Bert Bowes track began on a startlingly sunny Friday morning for the first time in several years.
In the middle of the day, tucked between several different events, a presentation was held to thank the community and local businesses for helping make the dream of a paved track in town become a reality.
Students from schools across the district gathered along the side of the track on the trampled grass in a trustee-led thundering three cheers for the donors who helped build the track they spent the day racing on.
“It’s been a long two years. And it’s really nice to see everybody outside and together. It’s great to see you guys,” Curtis Whitford, current PAC member for Bert Bowes Middle School, told the group of athletes, parents, coaches and teachers.
District track and field meets have been cancelled for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a few years before that, while the track at Bert Bowes was in disrepair and the weather consistently poor on the planned day, the meet was held indoors on the 380-meter track at the Pomeroy Sports Centre. Regulation tracks, like that at Bert Bowes, are 400 metres.
The meet this year, however, returned to its old home under a brilliant blue sky on a brand new, carefully painted paved track surface.
“The conversation about this project started four years ago,” Whitford said.
Plans, fundraising, and renovation began two years ago.
“The track was completed last summer. We were able to get the lines painted just a couple of weeks ago and have it ready for today,” he told the crowd.
According to one of the meet’s organizers, Karen Gonzales, few of the elementary-school-aged students decked in their school colours would have experienced the day and its incomparable energy before.
“Many students haven’t been out to a district track meet before—in fact, I’d say, most.”
The organizers—not to mention several parents and coaches attending the meet—expressed excitement with the new track.
“We’re really happy with how professional it looks,” Gonzales said. “It’s a great addition to the community.”
Though the paved track is an extraordinary upgrade from the red gravel that previously formed the track’s foundation, it is not the end goal.
The next step is a rubber surface, Whitford announced.
Currently, a standard used in middle- and high-school meets in Prince George, it is also the next step “in preparing track athletes to compete at the provincial level.”
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