Please help the City of San Francisco realize the Kezar Stadium needs a new running track. Sign this online petition and spread the word!
As a Masters Track and Field enthusiast, it is important to take care of my body. I’ve had a series of injuries and sickness that kept me from training and becoming a better runner. And it is not easy to stay healthy and injury-free all the time. Sometimes you don’t have time or just forget to stretch, foam-roll, take vitamins or wash hands. Other times, you push too hard or you let your muscle weaken without knowing. Or, you run on a hard surface too hard, too fast. This last one is difficult to avoid, and I am sure it is a cause of my chronic tightness in my Achilles tendons, soleus, soleus, psoas, iliacus, lower abs, etc. My running club, San Francisco Track and Field Club, practices at San Francisco State University track. The track is in a better shape than others. Many runners prefer they meet at Kezar track, because it is more convenient to get to. But one of the big reasons why we stay away from the convenient location is deteriorating condition of the track. Fortunately, there is a community effort to bring the track up to today’s standards, and I am joining force with the community leaders to make this happen.
The all-weather eight-lane track was last installed in 1991. Since San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department does not have public access to its archives, I requested some information as to what type of surface was installed, what was estimated life span of such surface, etc.. I will update this page as soon as I hear from them.
22 years since the installation, deterioration of the track is obvious and serious. As soon as you enter the Stadium, you see the sun-bleached, rain-washed, faded brown track. The original umber-ish brown color is long gone. As you walk around on the track, you will see wear and tear from overuse, weather, and perhaps damages from abuse (prohibited use of cleats, stakeboards, etc.). In some parts, the surface material is gone – scraped from overuse. In other parts, the surface has bubbled up – likely damage from water seeping under the surface material. If you run, these damages come alive. I mean, it feels like I am running on concreate in general. When I hit the scraped area, it feels even harder. When I run on the bubbles, it makes flapping sound. I would definitely want to avoid being caught in a hole or tear.
So what does this mean? Compared to city streets or sidewalks, the track looks better and safer to run on, of course. We all know the City does not have enough funding to make all the parks and recreational areas new. So, do we have to wait until it gets even worse, or maybe until someone gets hurt? Who knows, some people might be already experiencing injuries, having run on the current hard track. When is the right time to get a new track? Since this track is open to public – and it’s a very popular track – all sorts of people run there. Small kids during summer camp, from elementary school to high school students, elite athletes, ordinary runners, and senior aficionados. Most of us think time has come to replace the track. An editor from San Francisco Chronicle called last week and asked questions about the current condition of the Kezar track. Parts of our conversation are in this article.
If you do an online search about the Kezar track or Kezar Stadium, you can find history of the facility. Wikipedia and other websites can tell you San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders once played there. Stanford University plays football there every once in a while. Dirty Harry was filmed there, even. A New York Times article chronicled Colorful History of Kezar Stadium. But what is forgotten and what makes it even more colorful is the fact the first Gay Games (originally termed Gay Olympics) was held in the Kezar Stadium back in 1982, and four years later. Since then, Gay Games has been to Vancouver, New York, Amsterdam, Sydney (Australia), Chicago, and Cologne (Germany) and has become a major event among LGBT communities throughout the world. So, to those LGBT athletes in San Francisco, the Kezar Stadium is not just a public track, but a symbol of gay athleticism and a memorial that we will never want to forget.
Kezar Stadium – It is a unique place that is a true San Francisco institution. I am afraid the current condition of the track is a disgrace for a place that is loved so much by so many San Franciscans and visitors. It’s high time the City got funding to replace and modernize the track to meet today’s standards. If you like this post, please sign the online petition and spread the word!