By Scott Prater
When the Air Force announced new fitness assessment standards increasing testing to twice per year, 50th Space Wing leadership recognized the near-term need for an indoor running track.
Currently, Schriever’s outdoor running track serves as the only venue for the running portion of the fitness assessment, but that venue routinely exceeds the allowable weather standards for testing, exposing Airmen to harsh winds, cold temperatures and precipitation, especially during the winter months.
As a means for alleviating that problem, construction will soon be underway on a new 1/12 mile covered running track just east of the fitness center, near the first water/shade station of the running path.
Dubbed the “Field House,” the facility will consist of a three-lane rubberized running track.
“It’s going to allow us to test and train in inclement weather,” said Fitness Center Director Seth Cannello. “It’s a huge benefit for us since it can be so windy and cold out here.”
To complete their 1.5 mile fitness assessment run, Airmen will need to complete 18 laps at the Field House track, a considerable change from the six laps needed to complete the run on the outdoor track.
“I do think it’s important to have options if the weather turns poor,” Mr. Cannello said. “That way we won’t have to delay the testing process. The only thing that may present a problem is it may be difficult to count that many laps.”
Mr. Cannello said the fitness center staff is attempting to obtain a timing system where runners would wear an electronic chip that will be linked to a monitor. As each individual crosses a pad, it would count the number of laps. The new timing system would be a real benefit for the fitness assessment cell because the cell monitors wouldn’t have to worry about timing everyone and counting their laps.
Funding for the project was approved by 50th Space Wing Commander, Col. Wayne Monteith as a mission essential facility.
“We used to send our personnel to Peterson Air Force Base to test on their indoor track during inclement weather, but since the Air Force has mandated twice-a-year testing, Peterson no longer has space available to support our testing,” 50th Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Ed Baron said. “We do have a military construction project programmed in the future year’s defense budget to put an addition onto the fitness center, that will include an indoor track, but it’s difficult to predict when it will actually get funded. In the interim, we’ve funded a low-cost option for a covered track.”
The new field house will be covered by a tennis-bubble type roof.
Made of a nylon-type tension material, the roof will be translucent, allowing light to shine through.
“We’re trying to provide lighting and heat,” said Myron Jacobson, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron structural engineer. “The building will be connected to the existing fitness center gymnasium by a covered canopy and it will have exit doors on each side.”
The project is now in its contract bidding stage. Construction should begin soon and Mr. Jacobson estimates the facility will be complete at some point during November.