Folkestone’s New Athletics Track – Building Potential
Good news for 2020 – work has started on building the new athletics track at the Three Hills Sports Centre site on Cheriton Road. Folkestone is the home of many athletes, from amateur to Olympic level. The eight lane competitive circuit will use the same surface that Usain Bolt won his world record on. School children to professional athletes will be able to practice and race here. The track is set to be ready for use in Spring 2021. Folkelife spoke to our athletes to see what difference this track will make to Folkestone.
Local Olympian Jack Green
“An athletics track on the Three Hills site was mentioned back in 2012. This would have been as a result of Britain’s Olympic legacy. Now, 8 years on, Track and Field is Folkestone’s most successful Olympic sport within the district. This is such an important facility to have. When I was training, I had to go to Canterbury or Ashford. Thankfully, I had a really supportive mum to help me get there. But with Lisa Dobriskey – Commonwealth champion for 1500m in 2006, coming from the Romney Marsh, and myself, we clearly have talent in the district. To not be able to support that talent in Folkestone is a crying shame! Now, with this track, we can help develop so many athletes’ potential.”
“The track is the final piece of the jigsaw at the Three Hills centre. And with F51 – the skatepark – and all the facilities at the Three Hills, it’s amazing for a town the size of Folkestone to support so many different sports, at such a high level. But the track itself is for everyone; it’s health, it’s fitness and it’s wellbeing. Every sport can use it, because every sport needs a space to develop their speed and fitness.”
a track for all the community
Local Folkestonian Jack competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and trains current and next-generation athletes.
“I’m a speed and movement coach, and I work with professional cricket, football, rugby and other sports people. We all need the track to improve our fitness. So it’s great for all the other sports in the community, it’s great for those who just want to get fit, and great for those focusing on their Track and Field sports.”
“The track is also a place where retired groups, OAPs, less able-bodied people, can come and walk around. It’s a great place for the community to be social and build on their well-being. This is fantastic it’s coming to Folkestone!”
The Folkestone Running Club has been advocating for a track to help support their runners too. Currently, junior and adult members train on local pavements in the area for short runs. With this track, they’ll be able to work on distances below 5000m, and in a well-lit area too!
Ian McGillaway, a runner for the club, stated that this would be a facility, not just for the running club, but for local schools too.
“It’s a gateway into staying active and fit for lots of people. As a running club, it’s going to help us train in a safe place, for people who want to run shorter distances than a marathon! The track will also attract people who might not want to be running around the streets at night on dark and wet evening!”
Margaret Whitman, the chair of Folkestone Running Club, is really excited to see the new track. “Folkestone’s been wanting a running track since the 1970s! Working through our partnership with the Shepway Sports Trust (SST), who have links with all the other clubs in the district, will mean this track is used. Not only that, the SST work with all the local schools too. We can see it getting a massive amount of use.”
Margaret reiterates how important this facility will be for all the community. “It’s for everyone! There are many clubs already using Three Hills such as the Hockey Club, Football, and the Cricket Club too. They’ve all shown an interest in wanting to use the track. They can use it for their out-of-season training, pre-season training etc. It would be lovely to be in that position where people are fighting to use it!”
Margaret continues: “There is no doubt that this development will help stimulate the growth of athletics in the town, which has already seen growing interest as evidenced by the numbers joining Folkestone Running Club, where membership has increased substantially in recent years.”
Planning for this new venture has been spearheaded by the Folkestone Running Club and Three Hills Sports Park Ltd., with funding for planning and development from The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, which has provided a grant of £1m.
architect guy hollaway
Guy Hollaway is a multi-RIBA award winning architect, who’s also local, and has had a big impact on building in Folkestone. He created the new Three Hills centre and is in charge of the final piece of the jigsaw.
“The Three Hills Sports Centre has been a huge success. It’s made a great impact on the growth of local clubs, to have such a great facility to use. This athletics track is the final piece of the jigsaw. To have a track of this standard in a school cost so much money. Yet here, we can share it with the clubs that use Three Hills, and all the local schools can use it too. They can have their sports days here and so on. It’s an incredible asset for Folkestone. It completes the Three Hills centre because it’s so complementary in terms of what it’s trying to achieve. And it’s complementary to the schools and education we offer in Folkestone.”