Nowhere to run
LIVING in the country may have the advantage of clean air and open space but when you're an athlete who dreams of running for Australia you start a long way behind the city slickers if there's no running track in your home town.
"Determination and discipline keep me going but I need help," Tina Sherratt told the Coffs Coast Advocate.
"And I'm not the only one.
"Without a running track that's open at times when we can all stagger our training schedules, it's a challenge."
To pursue her goals, Sherratt and her family make endless sacrifices and spend a vast amount of money.
"On a yearly average there are ten trips to Sydney and eight to Brisbane for squad training and competition," she said.
"I'm in year 12 and the plan was to keep training so when school finished I could move and advance in middle distance running.
Beaches, bush tracks and parkland in all kinds of weather conditions are some of Sherratt's usual training haunts.
She did apply for a key to enter the grounds of Orara High School where a 400 metre track is established but even this situation isn't perfect.
"During holidays the school is deserted," she said.
"Training by myself I race the clock and without an accurate estimate of how fast I'm going it's difficult to measure progress.
"All that's needed are two marked lanes and if someone can come up with a solution there'd be many athletes beside myself who would be grateful."
When contacted by this newspaper and told of Sherratt's plight, Coffs Harbour City Council's Pat Littler and John Shaw advised a dedicated athletic track was part of future planning for Marshall's Estate but may still be a long way in the distance.
"An area on the northern side has been allocated but we still have a great deal of research into funding methods before we can progress," Shaw said.
"Government grants will certainly figure when building and ongoing maintenance costs will exceed $1 million."
Littler noted population growth would be a key factor in providing any track and field amenity.
"The Campbelltown area has just built a tartan track but their population far exceeds Coffs Harbour.
"Maybe we could justify creating a turf and cinders track before a tartan track but like anything, a lot of checking has to be done first.
"If Tina would like to contact us we'd be happy to do some homework on the situation."
Sherratt said she would be contacting Council while enlisting support from Little Athletics and other interested parties.
"This isn't just about me," she said.
"Others are finding it difficult without mentioning those still to aim for a running career."