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My Hometown: Track & Field Athlete Nick Symmonds on Boise, Idaho

Symmonds signed with Brooks in January 2014. (Brooks)

You might know Nick Symmonds as the 5-time USATF 800-meter champion. Or as the 2013 world champion who dedicated his silver medal to his gay and lesbian friends as a protest against Russian laws. Or as the runner who posted a nude photo on Twitter with the caption “For the first time in 7 years I am without an apparel sponsor. Forced to work out in the nude till a deal is signed.” (Thankfully—or not, depending on who you ask—Symmonds has since signed with Brooks, making him one of a growing number of athletes to leave Nike for smaller companies.)

Now and Then

You might not know, however, that this speedy, sometimes outspoken two-time Olympian is also an avid outdoorsman. Symmonds, who became an Eagle Scout while attending Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho, enjoys fishing, hunting, and hiking. 

Here, Symmonds takes a break from the track and his truck to tell us about the town that inspired his love of the outdoors.

Describe Boise.
Boise is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with four very distinct seasons. Located in a valley where the desert meets the Rocky Mountains, it has hiking, boating, rafting, fishing, hunting, and skiing—all less than an hour's drive away. 

Best time of year to visit?
Early fall. Boise summers can be pretty hot. I like early fall when the temperatures have come down enough that I can run, fish, or hike comfortably in the middle of the day. 

One thing most people don't know about Idaho?
Idaho only has one area code. 208 for life!  

Favorite place to get outside?
Bogus Basin. There are very few places where you can leave downtown and be skiing 30 minutes later. Plus, Bogus Basin has night skiing, so even if you have to work late you can still get up on the slopes.  

Best restaurant?
Bittercreek Ale House. One reason: they have poutine! 

Must-see attraction?
The Morrison Knudsen (MK) Nature Center. They have some fish viewing ponds where you can see giant rainbow trout up close.

Best place to stay?
The Grove Hotel. It’s in the heart of downtown and located steps away from the CenturyLink Arena if you want to catch a Steelheads ice hockey game. 

Filed To: Idaho
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

the-ring-race.jpg
(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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