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Guelph Community Runs to Build Track

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Feb 3 2012, 02:28 PM | 849 views
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Community Runs to Build Track

February 02, 2012 - News Release

A grassroots fundraising effort to build an international-calibre track and field facility at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium has raised nearly $1 million in just over a week.

“We’re not quite done yet, but it’s been fantastic, a hugely unifying movement,” said Dave Scott-Thomas, head coach of U of G’s track and field and cross-country teams and of the Speed River Track and Field Club for student and local runners — the most successful running club in Canada.

Donations have come from elite athletes, community members, alumni, family, friends and businesses, he said. “We’ve had hundreds of different people coming together to support this. It really is a giant spectrum we’ve tapped into, and we want to keep the energy going.”

The goal is to raise $1 million to build an eight-lane International Athletic Federation-certified facility as part of the major multimillion-dollar overhaul of U of G’s Alumni Stadium. So far, the campaign has raised more than $800,000.

“We still have a ways to go, so I haven’t stepped back enough to have full perspective, haven’t quite realized yet how huge this is — through mostly small donations this community has raised nearly a million in a little over a week,” Scott-Thomas said.

Last month, the University announced a $1.5-million anonymous donation toward installation of a new synthetic turf field and to begin track and lighting renovations under the athletics master plan to upgrade all of the University’s athletic facilities.

The total estimated cost of the improvements is $4.9 million. The University will seek additional funding from private donors, grants and other sources to cover the remaining costs of the projects.

John Marsden, chair of the Canadian Centre for Running Excellence in Guelph, is leading fundraising to build the eight-lane track, intended to allow the city and University to host internationally accredited events.

News of the fundraising initiative has spread by word of mouth and postings on running websites. Among hundreds of donations, former Gryphon runner Reid Coolsaet pledged $10,000 of his winnings from the Scotiabank marathon in Toronto last year. Running groups and businesses have also donated, including Angus GeoSolutions Inc. in Georgetown, Ont., which recently gave $150,000.

Marsden said widely varying groups have a stake in the project. “It also helps to emphasize that the running community is not just intense and dedicated but that it has great breadth.”

Officials hope to have the new facilities ready for the fall semester, before the Gryphons’ football home opener Sept. 15.

Under its athletics master plan, U of G has installed artificial turf on outdoor playing fields — completed last fall — and is building and renovating a student fitness and recreation complex. Construction will occur in phases, depending on funding.

Tom Kendall, director of athletics, said: “The renovations to Alumni Stadium combined with the recent installation of the rugby field, soccer complex and new field house mean that U of G now has one of the best outdoor and indoor field facilities in Canada. Not only will it be a welcome addition to Gryphon athletics, but it also will benefit the community. The synthetic turf means that we can use the facilities more extensively for University and community events, regardless of weather.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.



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