IMPROVEMENT work has finally been completed on the running track at South Wilts Grammar School, almost two years after it stopped being used.

As well as track resurfacing, the works include an improved layout for field events, ensuring compliance with current UK Athletics standards. Additional improvements also include disability access, the introduction of a discus cage and the provision of an electrical supply to the finish line.

The new facility, which was completed last week, will be available for the community and will also be the home of City of Salisbury Athletics and Running Club.

City of Salisbury athletics and running club’s chairman Stuart Holloway today expressed his delight at the return of the track.

He said: “It’s almost two years since we first had to stop using the old one, but the new track is just complete and it looks good.

“The club meanwhile has gone from strength to strength and our membership is now bigger than ever. The club’s positive spirit is exceptional, enabling us to come through what might have been a difficult time with flying colours.

“The track is of course not just a benefit for track and field athletes, it’s invaluable for our many road runners and cross country enthusiasts too for training. It’s also a real benefit for the community involvement which the club makes a major contribution to.”

Ten year-old Oli from Salisbury said: “I’m so excited about running on the new track as my school only has a small playground and a field.”

Dave Amey, club president and a member for more than 60 years added: “We can’t wait to return to this super new track and to use it to the full. I’m optimistic it will enable us to build further on the real successes we’ve enjoyed in the past couple of years.

“Our members range in age from 8-80, from internationals to newcomers, and they’re drawn from right across the community: the improved track will make the club and its appeal all the greater.”

Councillor Allison Bucknell, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for communities, leisure and libraries, said: “It is fantastic that residents of Salisbury and the surrounding area now have access to a first class athletics facility on their doorstep. The track will be a real asset for the school and its pupils but it is also hugely important for the athletics and running club, as they seek to develop and grow their sport even further.”

The track improvements have been funded by Wiltshire Council alongside Salisbury City Council and Salisbury Area Board. South Wilts Grammar School have provided the land for the track and City of Salisbury Athletics and Running Club have also contributed towards the total cost of the project.

Michelle Chilcott, head teacher at South Wilts Grammar School, said: “We are delighted to host this wonderful facility. Not only does the improved athletics track ensure our pupils benefit from high quality sports facilities, it also highlights our commitment to supporting our local community by making facilities available to the public and local clubs.”

Dave Amey, President of City of Salisbury Athletics and Running Club, said: “We can’t wait to return to this super new track and to use it to the full.” There’s no doubt it will be a great benefit to our members who’ve tripled in number in the past couple of years, as well as to many newcomers to running.

“The club has just been promoted to the top tier of the Southern Athletics League, which is a huge feather in our cap, and I’m optimistic that replacement of the track will enable us to build further on this success.”

Councillor Jeremy Nettle, leader of Salisbury City Council, said: “We are delighted to support such a worthwhile project. The athletics track is a key sports facility in Salisbury and the city council recognises this and were thrilled to play a part in safeguarding it’s future.”