CSR was appointed to design and supervise the construction of a new Cross Country Course in the grounds of Abbotstown House on the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown.
CSR’s brief was: “to design a world class cross country course unique in character and amenity, providing an exciting challenge for athletes in training and in competition, capable of attracting and hosting national and international competitions, and providing all the requisite facilities for athletes and their support teams, spectators and media covering competitions at the venue”.
CSR identified the key design principles and technical standards for competition courses as defined by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). Existing purpose built cross country courses around the world were analysed for best practice in design. CSR also engaged with Athletics Ireland to establish the requirements and preferences of local athletes.
With the course requirements established CSR analysed the historic demesne landscape of Abbotstown House in detail, paying particular attention to the topography and drainage, woodland cover, cultural heritage features, visual amenity and views – and explored a range of options for the course layout.
The final course design made optimal use of these site characteristics. The course features straights and sweeping curves through undulating grassland fields, hills and valleys, sections enclosed by woodland, a sand section along a resurfaced old road outside the demesne wall, and views – for athletes, spectators and camera positions – of Abbotstown House, the graveyard and church ruin, and other features of the demesne landscape.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan TD, officially opened the course in October 2016. Speaking at the opening, Minister O’Donovan welcomed the development of facility: “I am delighted to officially open the National Cross Country Track. This marks another milestone in the development of the National Sports Campus and I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the development of this facility. This new Track will benefit our elite athletes and will also have a positive impact in attracting major athletics events to Ireland. I hope that this new facility will encourage more people to get involved in cross country and I would invite anyone interested in running to visit the National Sports Campus and try out the Track for themselves.”
Sport Ireland National Sports Campus Director, David Conway, said: “The lands to the front of Abbotstown House at the National Sports Campus lent themselves perfectly for the provision of a competitive national Cross Country track, the variety of landscape, topography and heritage features are beautifully harnessed to create a challenging and exciting course for both competitive and participation runners. ”