Champion Runner Drawn to ‘Unbeatable’ Springfield Trails

Nick Symmonds

When two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds isn’t racing against the best middle distance runners in the world, competing on “American Ninja Warrior” or helping manage his business, Run Gum, you might just find him enjoying time in Springfield.

“I love Springfield.” said Symmonds. “I always felt home in Springfield.”

Symmonds, a Boise, Idaho, native, is currently training up and down the West Coast in preparation for the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships on June 27-28 at Hayward Field. But he is excited to be coming back to a place he feels he can call home.

What especially stands out to Symmonds is the quality of the running trails in Springfield.

“I think Dorris Ranch is probably unbeatable in the whole area. It is just a really beautiful park and now the fact that they’ve connected Dorris with Clearwater is really, really nice,” said Symmonds. “Any given day I might start in Springfield or Eugene and vice versa and crisscross between the two cities half a dozen times in a given day of training.”

Symmonds knows each trail intimately. From a pavement run with a view of the river to a trail run through the forest, Willamalane Park and Recreation District trails offer a little bit of everything.

While the trails brought him to Springfield, what kept him here was a city that embraced him for the small-town boy that he is. He first encountered the area when, as a Division III runner at Willamette University in Salem, he competed at Hayward Field.

“I had been a kid from Willamette [University] who had come down and beat up on Ducks and I always felt an outsider until that community really welcomed me,” said Symmonds. “And that really helped. It played a major, major part in me making the teams in ’08 and ’12.”

After graduation, Symmonds made the move to Springfield in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Trials. And after he made the ’08 Olympic team (in one of the most exciting races of the Trials) he extended his stay in the area. He continued training here and again made the team in 2012.

Symmonds says he appreciates Springfield and all it has to offer – from its trails, to its friendly people, to pre-race meals at Bai Khao Thai on Centennial Boulevard.

“Springfield just felt like my kind of people.” — Zachary Silva