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Why Finsbury Park Track is important to London Heathside

London Heathside was formed in the year 2000 from the merger of North London AC and Muswell Hill Runners.  
The track in Finsbury Park has been used for athletics since 1936 and was updated with the modern Scotch Surface in 1996 following a fund raising effort (of approximately £300,000) by members of North London Athletic Club. Original plans indicate that the current gymnasium and changing accommodation was built in 1972 with some upgrading in the mid 80s. 
Heathside has a block booking of the Track and Gym for every week of the year, on Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.  Roughly calculated and making some allowance for Bank Holidays this amounts to some 5,000 hours per year. 
During these hours the track, the meeting room and the gym provides facilities for:

  • Under 11s - these primary school children have a try at every aspect of athletics in a well structured environment being led in appropriate drills and warm ups before moving on to attempting running, jumping and throwing with qualified coaches 
  • Secondary School age - during these years young athletes begin to discover which of the specialities are best suited to their abilities and to take part in organised events such as the Young Athletes League and the London Inter Club Championships
  • Quadkids - describes itself "QuadKids Clubs promotes competition in athletics clubs throughout England with inter and intra club competitions and athletic network leagues and events. Targeting under 9, 11 and 13 age groups this is a perfect stepping stone encompassing all the key aspects of athletics; endurance, speed, agility and strength." It is run under the banner of England Athletics. Heathside is host to up to 6 such events each year, which are all well attended both in numbers and enthusiasm.
  • Senior Athletes - training for senior athletes is broken down into event related groups, with specialists concentrating on areas within running, jumping and throwing. There is usually a substantial presence of athletes on a Tuesday evening using the discipline of repetitions over multiples of 400 metres to train not only for the track but also for cross country, road running, marathons and triathlons.
  • Veterans - yes even  over 35 year olds drag themselves out and attempt a training regime.
  • The meeting room at the track is used for club meetings and for indoor training.

Overall the track already is a crucial element in the club's set up, providing a focus for developing early enthusiasm and young athletes, through to long serving members of the club. There is no discipline which cannot benefit from its existence.
For the future changes to the way the buildings, track and field are used provide opportunities for the club. Some or all of the following might/should be possible

  • the gym can be modernised and/or adapted to better suit the requirements of the club
  • the small notice board outside the meeting room might be expanded and perhaps cover recent honours (London Blitz have already informally adopted wall space for such purposes)
  • Open Days of athletics will improve the reputation and standing of the club, and acts as a source of income

No other training venue currently used by Heathside will be directly affected by changes at Finsbury Park

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