St Andrews University has suspended a decision to close its running track amid immense opposition.
More than 2,300 people have signed a petition calling for the well-used track to be saved following its sudden closure last week.
It is used by students, Fife Athletics Club, East Fife Triathlon Club and by members of the public, all of whom were horrified at the loss of the facility.
The nearest public running tracks to St Andrews are in Dundee or Glenrothes.
The move by Saints Sport, which is responsible for the university’s sporting facilities, followed a failed health and safety inspection.
The track has become dilapidated and runners have to dodge holes.
But students said they were told that rather then repair it, Saints Sport planned to convert it into an astroturf pitch.
The petition, started by student Megan Gore, said: “As students, we are disappointed the Athletics Union has neglected their facilities to this extent and has made such an impactful decision without any student input.
“Many of us are outraged as to how a university that calls itself ‘number one in the United Kingdom with some of the best sports facilities in Scotland’ could lack such a basic sports facility.”
‘There’s been absolutely no consultation’
Megan said the issue was a matter of physical and mental wellbeing, particularly as the track is the only sports facility provided free.
“Having to travel to Dundee to use alternative facilities will significantly increase costs and put strain on us.”
The students have the backing of Fife Athletic Club, which trains on the facility twice a week.
A club spokeswoman said: “The track has open access, which means anybody can use it.
It was closed with immediate effect.”
Fife Athletics Club.
“Taking it away would mean everyone from children to retired people would have no track to run on unless they’re prepared to travel.
“There’s been absolutely no consultation about this. It was just announced last Thursday.
“I received an email saying it was closed with immediate effect and it’s going to be redeveloped into a rugby pitch.”
The spokeswoman also criticised the lack of upkeep, saying there had been little or no maintenance over the past 20 years.
St Andrews athletics track decision paused pending review
As well as the petition, students began emailing the university to make their feelings known.
And it appears Saints Sport has had a change of heart – for now at least.
A St Andrews University spokesperson confirmed the track was several decades old and well beyond its predicted lifespan.
“It’s dilapidation is such that Saints Sport was obliged to close it to use immediately after it failed a health and safety inspection,” she said.
“We have paused the decision not to repair or replace our running track pending further detailed review.”
The review will include looking at the level of track use and the cost of repairing or replacing it.
It will also consider access to alternative facilities and the effects the reinstatement would have on access to university sports facilities in general.