Mercury, a potent neurotoxin capable of damaging the central nervous system of adults and impairing neurological development in fetuses and children, has been used as a manufacturing catalyst in urethane based running track surfaces since the 1970s. Most tracks built today continue to use mercury in their construction. Recently, influenced in part by rising litigation, stiffer federal regulations, and more clearly defined health risks from mercury exposure, colleges are becoming more socially conscious and having running tracks built without the use of mercury.
While advances in nutrition, training, shoes, equipment, and coaching methodology have all contributed to setting track records in the past few decades, one component is a relatively new influence on setting record times – advanced urethane developments for track surfaces. Although synthetic surfaces were first used on running tracks over 40 years ago, few really significant improvements have been made since then. In fact, technological development had pretty much atrophied. That is until recently. Collegiate coaches and athletic directors are now fast becoming aware of new technological advances in track surfaces and the performance payoffs possible with faster running times.