The meets will be sparse this year, but the Soldiers Field Track is available for use.

Operation "Save the Track" was completed last week as Rochester Sand and Gravel finished construction on the new surface. Grass still needs to be grown around the edges of the outside and inside lanes of the track, but it is marked and ready for use.

"It's a finished product so we're pretty excited about it," said Cindy Morgan, vice president of the Rochester Running Club.

The Rochester City Council earmarked about $270,000 to refurbish the track last fall. The old surface of the track, which is more than 90 years old, was cinder.

"Now it's a gravel top that's similar to a baseball diamond," Morgan said.

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The new surface was also raised up about 5 inches from the past to prevent flooding.

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"It's the only open track in Rochester," said 14-year-old Noah Billings. "And it's so much nicer now."

Billings, who goes to school in Stewartville, is an elite tri-athlete. He won a national championship for his age group a year ago. He figures he runs on the track once or twice a week, weather permitting, and covers 6 to 14 miles.

"I'm really grateful because I've been running on the track since 2015 for triathlon," he said. "And if it wasn't for the track, I don't know where I'd be today."

Due to COVID-19, the All-Comers youth track meets are not being held this summer, although runners can do their own virtual meets and post times.

Morgan said the Rochester Running Club will pay $2,000 a year to maintain the track. She also noted open and accessible tracks -- outside those at schools -- are extremely rare.

"We've not seen another track like this in any other community out there," she said. "And we did our research, we were looking for one."

Due to the pandemic, Morgan said the Rochester Running Club "won't be able to host a celebration, but we're looking forward to hosting a safe and healthy celebration sometime in the future."

The newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
The newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
A person runs on the newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
A person runs on the newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
The newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
The newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
A person walks on the newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)
A person walks on the newly resurfaced track at Soldiers Field Park in Rochester on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)