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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Frank McHugh's labour of love - the Camden track

Frank McHugh's labour of love - the Camden track

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Camden Classic Curator
By Ashley Walsh
ABC On Line
5 February, 2012

It takes four months to prepare the running track for the annual Camden Classic held on the first Sunday in February.

It can only be described as a labour of love.

Each year Frank McHugh spends four months transforming the Camden Oval into a first class athletics track.

The oval is only used once a year for an athletics meet - the Camden Classic Carnival held on the first Sunday in February.

Frank is the first to admit that it's no easy task given the wear and tear the oval takes throughout the year, particularly during the football season.

Once football is finished, Frank moves in and begins the transformation, removing the goal posts and renovating the goal squares.

"When we come here in late September it's mud, there's no grass in the goal squares at all, so it's a big job, a lot of work, a lot of watering, a lot of levelling."

Frank prepares two kikuyu tracks.

An eight lane 120 metre Gift track is prepared in the centre of the oval and a 400 metre track is used for the longer distance events including the heats and final of the Camden Classic.

Mind you Frank is a bit of an old hand at the job, having prepared every track since the inception of the Classic in 1980.

"You know where the grass grows, some people say that the blades of grass talk to me."

Frank thinks this year's track is one of the better ones he's prepared.

Apart from producing a top class track each year, Frank has recorded some pretty impressive performances as a runner, winning the Classic in 1983 and being a finalist eight times.

These days he trains a team of 30 runners at the Camden Athletic Club.

Frank says the Camden Classic is probably the second best carnival in South Australia behind the Bay Sheffield.

"It's a big race to win, it's a hard race to win."

The 2012 Camden Classic Carnival starts at 12noon on Sunday February 4 with the Camden Classic Final over 400 metres at 6.05pm.

The Camden Oval is on Anzac Highway at Novar Gardens.

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