No more running in dirt: Plans for new track gain momentum with Pizza Run fundraiser

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Originally published on March 22, 2016

Senior Marvin Luong leads runners with a 10-minute-mile pace at the start of the Pizza Run on March 20. Photo by Whitney C. Lim

Tired of running on a dirt track? Next fall the school will have a new track, along with new track and field event areas. As a fundraiser to help cover maintenance and extra costs, students have also organized a fun run, Lowell’s first Pizza Run.

San Francisco Unified School District’s Athletic Commission allocated $1.3 million for the track project. Currently, construction companies are making bids for the opportunity to build the track.

New field event areas include a discus cage, shot put area, long jump pits, and a pole vault area. The track itself will have eight lanes. Currently, Lowell has no field event areas, and the track is a dirt ring.

The Lowell Alumni Association (LAA) and Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) are also donating money to the track project and assisting in organizing the Pizza Run. LAA’s board of directors has authorized $35,000 to be spent on the track project, and hopes to raise $100,000 in total together with PTSA, coach Andy Leong’s track fund, and the Pizza Run, according to Terence Abad, the Executive Director of LAA.

Seniors Kristen Leung, Abhay Negi, Maggie He, and junior Jessica Eng were the main organizers behind the Pizza Run, which took place on March 20. Participants earned pizza at the end of the run.

Seniors Kristen Leung, Abhay Negi, Maggie He, and junior Jessica Eng working together to make the Pizza Run a success on March 20. Photo by Whitney C. Lim

Each team member had an area of focus. Leung coordinates with adults, Negi budgets, He designs graphics and advertises, and Eng reaches out to businesses.

As of March 20, The Pizza Run raised about $17,000. The goal was to earn $20,000, but more importantly, to have a successful community event, according to Leung. The student organizers envisioned an event that would allow alumni, current students, and families to interact.

Many families went to the Pizza Run, according to Charles Young, parent of sophomore Alyssa Young and senior Lily Young. “I had a lot of fun at the run especially since we had a large family presence there and I knew that it was for a good cause,” Young said.

Students from all over the city came out to support the event. “I went because I knew how hard the track team works and I think it is ridiculous that one of the top track teams in SF don’t even have a track,” Lowell senior Sherita Li said.

Many benefits accompany the new track and field field areas. They eliminate the need for the track team to practice and compete off-site. The track team usually heads over to Lincoln High School or School of the Arts to use their tracks. “Going to SOTA takes a good hour, so with the new track, that’s an hour we don’t have to worry about,” track coach Andy Leong said.

When the track team practices at other schools, other teams are also practicing, and a crowded track increases risk for injuries. “Usually people run into each other at almost full speed if they’re sprinting,” said junior Nicholas Chuakay, who sprints and hurdles.

However, injuries also occur at Lowell due to the current dirt track. When it doesn’t rain, the dirt becomes too hard and puts strain on team members’ knees and shins, leading to increased risk for injury.

The new track also allows for more precise timing and training. According to Leong, any participant running more than one lap has to calibrate their body to precise distances, such as 400 meters.

With the new track, flooding after rainy days will be minimized. Athletic Director Robert Ray said that the dirt track is unusable for two or three days after it rains, so the new track will alleviate this problem.

Lowell’s current dirt track flooded from the rain. Photo by Lily Young

The new track will also be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design, as wheelchair and crutch users cannot access the bleachers through the current dirt track when it rains.

Construction will occur over the summer, and may start as early as May 9. PE classes as well as summer sports practices will be re-arranged to avoid conflicts, according to Buildings and Grounds Manager Holly Giles. Giles also said the only foreseeable delay is bad weather.

The drawing is designated with legend symbols ‘base bid’, ‘A1’, and ‘A2’. The work scope descriptions of the legends can be found in the ‘Scoping Legend’ on the lower right corner of the sheet.

Basically, the scope for the ‘base bid’ is the running track, two D-zones, and the entry area. This is the main area of the project adding to the track this summer.

The scope for ‘A1’ is the shot put area depending on funding from the alumni.

The scope for ‘A2’ is the remaining scope in the field depending on funding.