Pallets are a bad idea for several reasons. First, pallets are not part of the pit; they didn't come with the pit, nor were they intended to be used to hold up a pit for pole vault or high jump competition. In the pole vault, they create an area around the box of unpadded wood and negate the effectiveness of the now-required box collar. For those pits with the collar "built in," putting four inches of wood under this built in collar is also counterproductive. If an athlete gets into a pallet and is injured, a huge liability issue arises.
But pallets get worse for the pole vault. Our pits (like many in the industry) are designed so that the angles around the vaulting box facilitate the flex in the pole. By raising the bottom of the pit the height of a pallet, the chance of the pole touching the pallet or the pit is greatly increased. Along those lines, if a vaulter misses the box with the end of the pole, having a pallet under the pit increases the chance of the pole wedging under the pit and breaking. With the rising cost of poles, this can prove to be a costly mistake.
Why do so many companies suggest raising the pit then? The short answer is the system they sell to raise the pit costs many thousands of dollars. The long answer is that many claim water can damage the foam and fabric and cause early wear to the pit. This simply isn't the case; at least not with a a Richey pit. We use 22 oz. vinyl coated nylon, coated on both sides. Vinyl isn't adversely affected by water (that's why they make swimming pool liners out of vinyl). To the same degree, our foam isn't hurt by water either. Foam and vinyl fabric's greatest weakness is how they handle ultra violet light; that is to say, the sun will fry your pit before the rain ever touches it.
We've repaired more pits that have been cut by the corners of a pallet, or torn by a stray pallet staple or nail, than pits that have been damaged by any other means. Put your pit directly on the ground and save your money - this includes forgoing those fancy aluminum pit raising systems as well. There is no better way for the wind to get under your pit in a storm and send it flying than propping it up for mother nature with an overpriced scaffolding system underneath of the pit. Remember, you might have gotten a discount on your pit and that fancy aluminum pallet system, but your insurance company will pay full price - minus the deductible out of your pocket of course.Top
When you put a dark colored weather cover over a pit, it attracts heat from the sun. When the pit blocks the sun from the ground, the ground stays cool. Hot pit over the top of a cold ground and conditions are prime for condensation to occur; and it will occur by the gallon. But as stated earlier, it's not water that hurts the pit, it's the sun. So turn the pit over to drain if it fills up too much, but keep the weather cover on it to keep the sun off of it.
The short answer is, rotate the back sections. Moving the section in the middle whose soft spot is allowing the water to pool to an edge will allow that water to run off of the edge of the pit rather than further crush your pit.
The longer answer is for those of you who do not have a pit whose back sections are interchangeable. In this case, you might find it helpful to purchase one of the center supports the company you bought your pit from manufactures. They'll prop up the center of the weather cover to allow for enough of a slope for the water to run off. If this extra expense is not feasible, then we suggest grabbing a hurdle from the track and tipping it on its side under the weather cover. This should raise the middle of the cover enough to allow the rain water to run off.
What we do not suggest is trying to raise that center section by placing pallets underneath of just that center section. This will raise the top pad in the center and cause undue stress on the snaps along the edge during competition, shortening the life of your pit. Not to mention your vaulters no longer have a smooth top surface to land on; creating more slopes and valleys, especially in the primary landing area, is a good way for an athlete to turn an ankle.
Simply put, the bare minimum is the size of pit that meets the minimum size requirements to host a meet or practice. At Richey, we do not think this provides enough pit up front where most accidents occur, especially with the novice vaulter. While we cannot take all of the risk out of the event with a bigger pit, putting more pit up front is the best place to start.
We will not build a pit smaller than this diagram.