My favorite race of the year is coming up! Is it a historic 10k on the downtown streets of a major city? Is it a breathtakingly scenic trail run through the woods, past mountains and lakes? Is it a relay with enthusiastic and sweaty teammates crammed together in a van overnight? None of the above. While all of those kinds of events are great, my favorite race is relatively small and low-key, and lasts only a few minutes (just a couple on a good day). It’s the Nick Symmonds Springfield 800, a metric half-mile on a straight point-to-point road course.
Why is it my favorite race? Well, first of all it’s unique. There are a handful of street miles around, but this was the first road 800 meter race, organized by U.S. Olympian and 800 meter specialist Nick Symmonds. With so many running events to choose from, the novelty of a middle-distance race on the street really stands out.
The event is also fun because there are heats for everyone from kids to walkers to elites, and everybody in between. Volunteers and local residents line the street providing cheers and encouragement. You can run your own race and watch the other waves. The finish is visible from the start, and when the horn sounds, you can let it rip and go for broke on the completely straight and almost entirely flat course. No need for aid stations or a shuttle to the start! All that, and it’s only $10 ($8 for kids 17 and under).
The race is very well-organized and chip timed, but with a laid back and friendly vibe. One year a group of Olympic caliber runners from the Oregon Track Club even ran the race as a centipede. Awards are presented to the top finishers of each wave, and in previous years they came in the form of very cool facsimiles of street signs. Unique awards for a unique event!
Though previously held in the fall, this year’s Springfield 800 is scheduled for Tuesday evening, July 5th, which is a rest day in the USA Olympic Track And Field Trials being held in neighboring Eugene. Will some Olympic hopefuls show up to watch, or even race? Will Nick Symmonds recruit some high caliber friends to sign up? Will I get lapped by Bernard Lagat in the masters wave? (Luckily, it’s impossible to get lapped on a point-to-point course!) Either way, the atmosphere should prove to be electric with the Trials going on.
Even if you’ve never run an 800 on the track, you owe it to yourself to try this extremely fun event at least once. The race is a fundraiser for CASA Of Lane County (Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children).
When: Tuesday evening, July 5th
Where: Check in at City Hall Fountain Plaza at 225 Fifth Street, Springfield, Oregon. The course runs straight down 5th Street, from Depue Street to A Street, finishing in front of the library. There is plenty of street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as a public parking lot at the library near the finish.
5:30p – Walkers
5:40p – Runners with dogs
5:50p – Youth
6:00p – Masters Men & Women
6:10p – Open Men & Women
6:20p – Elite Women
6:30p – Elite Men
Registration: Only $10 for adults and $8 for youth 17 and under through June 14th (add $10 for an adult shirt and $8 for a youth shirt). Add $2 after June 14th. Day of race registration is available from 4:00p – 5:15p. Register online HERE.