Nick Symmonds takes his fans on a sentimental journey of Boise in a video he posted on his Facebook page.
“When I roll into Boise, just the smell of the sagebrush and the river, reminds me of my childhood,” the 33-year-old track champion says in a loving tribute to his hometown. “The old trails, the trails I learned to run on, it all brings back a lot of memories.”
The video opens with footage of Symmonds running on trails in the Foothills at dawn. He’s wearing a headlamp to light his path and he’s silhouetted by the glow of city lights.
He said that the extremes of Boise’s climate — hot summers and cold winters — helped him be a better runner. He sometimes rose as early as 3 a.m. to get in runs before it got hot.
“Getting up, being in the hills. You know that dew on the grass, that smell of dawn coming — what a magical part of the day,” he said. “What a great time to be alive and be outside.”
Symmonds is a six-time United States Track & Field Association champion at 800 meters, and a two-time Olympian. He won the silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. Earlier this year, he announced that he would retire after the 2017 outdoor season.
“He will also leave as perhaps the most outspoken, polarizing and essential American track and field athlete of the past decade,” according to a January New York Times article about Symmonds. “As a runner, his preferred style was to sit and kick. As an activist for athletes’ marketing rights, as well as an advocate for gay rights and gun control, he operated from the front, a loud, bold provocateur.”
Symmonds’ family moved to Boise from Arkansas when he was 3.
In the video, the 2002 graduate of Bishop Kelly High School said that when he was a kid, he couldn’t wait to get out of “quiet, sleepy, boring” Boise — and see the world. He graduated with a chemistry degree from Willamette University in 2006, and he’s made a living as a professional runner and through business ventures.
“I traveled the world. I went to four different continents. I raced in 34 countries,” he said. “And I was living like a rock star.”
But the excitement of trips to exotic, far-flung places eventually wore off, and he began to miss home. He started working his way back, he said. In June, he posted a video of a workout he did at Bishop Kelly, a workout before the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.
“Basically, to know home, you have to leave it,” he said. “The only way to fully understand what you have at home is to leave and see it from the outside. I found perspective. I was able to leave home, and see the world, and realize what I had back in Boise.”