BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge businesswoman, who is known for getting runners to the finish line, is behind a plan to build a brand new public track. The proposed site is at BREC's Brooks Park behind McKinley Middle Magnet School.
If anyone has ever wondered how big running is in Baton Rouge, all that person would have to do is look around the LSU Lakes at any time, on any given day.
Linda Ruffin is a runner who averages 25 miles a week. She, along with several other runners in the Capital City, has joined groups and made new friends who lace up to keep in shape or compete in local races. But, she said training comes with many challenges.
"Traffic is one. You have to look for cars, children or other people in the streets," Ruffin explained.
Because Baton Rouge does not have access to a public running track, runners and walkers must create their own routes.
Jenni Peters, an avid runner and the owner of Varsity Sports, has created her own loop around the City Park lakes to help athletes train.
"Baton Rouge has a real diverse active group of people and no track. It's crazy," Peters said.
Now she has set her sights on four acres of Brooks Park for a 400-meter track that would allow runners to safely train.
"It's always been a prime piece of real estate in Baton Rouge that nobody knows about. It's underutilized, and it's a stone's throw from the lakes where everybody is," Peters said.
Peters has recruited contractor and eight-time marathon finisher David Faulk to look into the possibilities.
"I did a little research online, talked to some engineers and came up with some basic presumptions of what traffic will look like, and we came up with about a $600,000 budget," Faulk said.
Peters is in talks with leaders from BREC, which owns the land. But for her idea to come to life, she and her supporters will have to get over one last hurdle with raising the money. Peters is confident she has got the right team in place to keep the project on track.
"I think we are ready to roll up our sleeves and give it a go," Peters said.
Peters said if all goes as planned, the track will be under construction by the end of this year.
BREC spokeswoman Cheryl Michelet said BREC is willing to go fifty-fifty with Peters' group to help fund the track. She added BREC is also talking to McKinley Middle Magnet School leaders about the idea because students use the land during the school year for recess.