To celebrate its fifth year, we give you eight reasons why the Springfield Straight 8 butters bread just how we like it.

1. To the people

The Springfield Straight 8 was first held in 2012. US runner Nick Symmonds, who acts as the event’s public relations wizard, had finished fifth at the London Olympics in the fastest 800m race of all time. It felt only appropriate to mark his performance.

“Springfield [Oregon] was my home city then,” Symmonds tells us. “We talked about putting on a race. I thought it would be kinda cool to do a straight eight down Main Street right in the middle of downtown Springfield.”

The reason for it was simple: “So everyone could come along and understand what an 800m is like.”

2. For the people

800m is not very far. Take eight hundred big steps and you’ll get a loose idea just how not very far it is. That’s the great thing about the straight eight race: anyone can do it.

“Nowadays everyone is going out for a marathon,” Symmonds says. “But anybody, whether you’re two years old or 80, can move their body 800m.”

3. For the dogs

Yes, for the dogs.

Symmonds explains: “One big thing we’ve added this year is the dog/human 800. People will be able to race with their dogs, whether they’re carrying the Chihuahua or racing with their yellow Lab.”

Thinking dog pageant? Think again. Expect Crufts with added elbows.

“We’ll see what man/dog combo is the fastest. We’ve already got a lot of the canine units at the local police force volunteer to come out and run with their dogs.

“I think it should be very competitive.” Woof.

4. For the community

Symmonds is not overly surprised that the event has reached its fifth year. His idea from the start was for the Straight Eight to be, first and foremost, an occasion for the people of Springfield.

“I think we wanted to try and grow it and create something really fun for the community,” he says.

It is now a fixture in the local calendar, and Symmonds is quick to thank the role that corporate support has played in making that possible.

“I didn’t expect sponsors to get on board so quickly,” he admits. “Dole Packaged Foods has been a phenomenal sponsor. It’s really helped us to grow and make it a really professional event.”

5. Mirage effect

Symmonds has forged a career out of running twice round a track really fast: he has made every US team he’s ever tried out for and won world champs silver in 2013.

Doing the same thing in a straight line is a different kettle of fish.

“When you’re on a track you know to the metre where you’re at; running a straight eight – although we have 200m markers – you lose track of exactly where you’re at,” he says.

This means it’s a race for runners who know when to unleash their kick – just like Symmonds. But he has a word of caution for anyone who gets white line fever.

“You can also see the finish line from the start, so it’s deceptive,” he cautions. “It looks impossibly close, but as you sprint towards it, it seems to get farther and farther away from you.”

6. Trials talent

Downtown Springfield is just a short 10,000m jog from Hayward Field in Eugene, where this year’s US Olympic Trials are taking place. The Straight Eight has been smartly scheduled in order to attract that deep pool of talent.

“We’ve placed it strategically between the first and second session of the Olympic Trials,” Symmonds says, “so all the 800m runners that are in the Eugene-Springfield area for the Olympic Trials will be there.”

A guaranteed $5,000 for the first male and female home means more than just proximity will tempt the world-class runners.

“I expect some of the Olympic Trials participants to double back and participate for sure,” Symmonds adds.

7. Records will fall

Quality fields consisting of in form runners racing for a top cash prize means only one thing: speed.

It makes Symmonds optimistic of his own best being broken: “I set the course record in 2014 at 1:51, but I think that will be shattered this year!”

8. All-day party

There will be a “carnival-like atmosphere” throughout the day, boosted by the presence of a cacophony of “music and food and vendors” setting up downtown. “It should be a really fun event,” Symmonds says. 

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Run Gum, one of Symmonds’ many ventures outside of running, is hosting an after event that will keep the fun going all night.

“We’ve rented out a restaurant brewery at the finish line,” Symmonds says, mischievously. “I’m probably most looking forward to that!”

The Springfield Straight Eight takes place July 5. HEAD HERE for more info