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''I Would Chalk 500 Yards''

''I WOULD CHALK 500 YARDS'' writes Shane Fenton
As part of the organising committee for the New Year Sprint, my responsibilty for the past 40 years or so has been the marking of the track for all the various events.
The middle of the week between Xmas and New Year would normally be the time we get wrapped up with a few layers of clothing on gloves and wooly hat, arm ourselves with measuring wheels, tapes, strings ,ropes and chalk and head off to wherever the track is to be marked.

It is no easy task I can assure you, more so when you are limited to what you can use for marking.
Take Meadowmill for instance, no permanent markings are allowed neither can you use a white line machine.
The markings are done manually by chalk lines which can be back breaking work. The width of an 8 lane track is 10 metres. So to cover both the 90m and 110m you need 50 lines at one metre intervals.
That is the equivalent of drawing a straight line of 500 metres! In reference to that well known Proclaimers song perhaps for us it should be re-named ''I Would Chalk 500 Yards''!

Then you get the programme and go through each heat marking in all the quarter, half and three- quarter marks.
Once that is all done you then start on the round track putting down the marks for the various events , then on the morning of the meeting a marker peg will go where all the markings are. You just hope it doesn't rain too heavy between times!
For the 200 metres thankfully every athlete just keeps to the inside lane as possible. However for a few years when held at Meadowbank the 200m was run in lanes so imagine the job of marking 8 lanes on the bend each to be marked up to 70 metres!!

For the x ties and final of the New Year Sprint East Lothian Council mark out the sprint track at Musselburgh Racecourse.They mark half metres up to 30 metres.We only have to put the metred marker boards up each side.. Over the years we have on more than one occasion had to sweep snow off the track before and after starting our work.

Despite all the work I love every minute of the involvement and wouldn't change a thing.
So, next time you turn up at a meeting and take everything for granted, think for a moment of who put down all the marks.... rather than just stand and moan about the marks!!

Published: 2020-12-30 14:53:03