Running Tracks

Running track construction

Whether you are planning to build an 4-lane running track for your middle school, a 6-lane track and field oval for your high school or a full 400 meter, 8-lane athletics track for your college or sports club, you need to understand what the important considerations are before, during and after the construction phase of the project.

It is essential to understand what determines the cost of the sports facility project at an early stage and find out how to get it done affordably and quickly while not sacrificing quality.

In this section we give you all the information you need when planning a running track installation project. We also give you the opportunity to get an instant cost estimate for your project by using our running track cost calculator.

On your mark, get set, go! 

How to make a running track?

Building a running track for your school, athletics club, or community is no small endeavor. But with a lot of planning up front and some help from trusted professionals, you’ll be able to give your patrons an outstanding experience. 

Here’s a brief rundown of the steps involved in making a running track:

    • Choosing which type of events you plan on hosting
    • Survey of the land and proposed site
    • Soil samples to identify which materials will be used in the sublayer
    • Leveling of the ground at the site
    • Construction of the sublayers (the materials upon which the track will sit)
    • Installation of the track 

For an in-depth view of everything that goes into constructing a running track, check out this helpful article: How to build a running track for a high school or college? 

If you are in the process of planning to resurface your running track, we have prepared another article for you.

What is a running track surface made of?

In the past, cinder and gravel were used in creating the surface of a running track. However, advancements in technology and sustainability have brought us safer and more efficient options. These will not only last longer but will also make your athletes happier (they’re more enjoyable to run on!) 


Option 1 – Asphalt Track

Asphalt is the most economical option on our list. However, they are the most susceptible to climate changes and weather patterns. Like any asphalt road, the track will contract and expand with changes in moisture and temperature. Still, asphalt is a fantastic entry-level option for a track. 


Option 2 – Rubber Track

This type of track is fantastic for drainage – especially if you install a porous latex rubber. The holes in the surface allow water to filter down through the track and empty into your drainage system. It’s perfect for wetter conditions and areas with a lot of rain. 


Option 3 – Sandwich Track

Sandwich tracks are similar to rubber in that they have a lower layer of latex. But on top, they’re coated in a protective polyurethane that wicks away water. Sandwich tracks are like a hybrid between rubber and the final option on our list. 


Option 4 – Polyurethane Track

Full-pour polyurethane offers the highest-quality track currently available. It’s durable, fast, and weather-resistant. Higher quality does come with a higher price tag – it is the most expensive option for running tracks. 

How long do rubber tracks last?

You can expect the surface of your track to last from 5 – 10 years. With that said, the longevity of your rubber track depends on a few crucial factors:

    • The weather at your location. Tracks exposed to cold winters and lots of rain may wear down faster than those in drier climates. 
    • The materials you choose. Like any construction project, there are different tiers of quality for each piece of your track. Ask your construction partner for recommendations that fit your budget – that will last you and your school or club the longest. 
    • The amount of use it gets. High foot traffic will wear a track down faster. The protective layers on the surface erode over time. Routine maintenance will help mitigate much of this, but it is still something to consider.
How many acres is a running track?

In general, you can expect your running track to take up at least 3.5 acres of land. There are a couple of points that you need to keep in mind when planning the layout of your track. 


First, if you plan to install more than one running track, you’ll need much more space than 3.5 acres. Due to strict regulations, there must be a buffer of at least 75 yards from one to the next. Depending on your site, you might need to get creative with your layout if you are tight on space.

What shape is a running track?

Athletics tracks are oval. 

The oval allows for both short and long-distance events at the same venue. The straight lines on the sides are ideal for sprints, while multiple lap races can use the entire oval.

How many lanes are on a running track?

The number of lanes on a track is contingent on the type of athletics it hosts. A typical raceway is 400m with 8, 6, or even four lanes.


If you plan to host collegiate-level events, you must plan for eight lanes. If you are building a track at a leisure club or community center, you can reduce the number of lanes to 6. Just know that if you choose 4 or 6 lanes, you are limiting the types of events your venue can host in the future.

How many meters is an athletics track?

The distance of a running track is 400m around (measured in Lane 1). One lap around the course is just under a quarter of a mile.  If you measure from the outside lanes, you can add 40m – 50m of distance to each lap.


The straightaways on the sides of the track measure and even 100m from end to end. That’s why you always see short-distance events taking place on the straights.

How much does a running track cost?

The cost of your running track will vary depending on your project’s specific needs and requirements. Materials, venue, use case, and the number of lanes will all influence the overall price tag for installing your athletics track. You can expect to pay between $3.20 and $12 per square foot of surface and lining for most tartan race tracks. Of course, a track with only 4 or 6 lanes will be cheaper than a 400m running track with eight lanes.

However, the cost of the track itself is not the only thing you need to consider. 

The base layers (both bonded and unbonded) drainage solutions, equipment for construction, soil surveys, and tests will all play a factor if you want to build a long-lasting venue. It can seem like a lot when you are just starting to build an indoor or outdoor running track. Check out this complete breakdown of everything you need to think about when planning your project.  

Pro Tip: Use our running track cost calculator to get a clear idea of the costs for the track you envision.

Read more about running track construction costs in our full guide.

Running track construction guides

Get a cost estimate for budgeting at an early stage

We have created a simple and quick to use running track cost calculator designed for schools, universities, sports clubs, municipalities and other project starters who want to get a customized cost estimate for their construction project.

To the cost calculator