The Long Trail – Nikki Kimball

Nikki Kimball rocks!

For sure, this girl has a no messing attitude. I remember her saying to me at Zegama just after she had placed 3rd lady at Transvulcania La Palma, my legs hurt but I am gonna ‘kick ass’. Love it!

Nikki has just run another Western States and placed 5th but in August she has a new project… ‘The Long Trail’

Nikki will plan to run 273 miles of extreme terrain in 4 days.


In an age where obesity is the #1 killer in America, THE LONG TRAIL, a one-hour HD co-production of Bozeman-based Fours Five Productions and MontanaPBS, will present the inspirational story of Montana resident and top-ranked endurance athlete Nikki Kimball’s quest to run Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail in just four days. What drives her to attempt such an incredible feat? The film will follow Nikki’s journey from its beginning—training and racing in the mountains near her home in Montana—to her actual record attempt in Vermont next summer. Breaking the Long Trail record is a jewel among endurance runners. From France to Brazil, Nikki’s traveled the world competing as a member of the United States 100k and Mountain Running Teams. She’s won the Western States 100 Mile three times and holds the course record for the Bridger Ridge Run. Her race resume puts her among the greatest distance runners of our generation. But the Long Trail breaks runners. Our film will show how Nikki survives this incredible ordeal, in her quest to push the limits of what people consider possible both physically and psychologically.

Throughout the film interviews with today’s leading evolutionary biologists, including David Carrier, featured in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run and Bernd Heinrich, author of Why We Run, will explain the science and history behind Nikki’s incredible undertaking. For Nikki, this well-publicized run on America’s first long distance hiking trail is more than a chance to inspire people to be active and spend time outdoors, it’s her way of encouraging women and girls to take an equal place for themselves in professional sports. THE LONG TRAIL will utilize a mix of Steadicam, DSLR, POV, and ultra high-speed cameras to give this film a riveting, exciting aesthetic of Nikki’s inspiring adventure. In addition to providing an inside look into contemporary running culture, this film will give viewers a new perspective on the endurance of the human body and spirit, and informing us all us, regardless of our sex, of our true potential and inspiring us to reach it.

Who is Nikki Kimball (as if you didn’t know) – in her own words…

I grew up a few miles from the Long Trail, just south of its heavily wooded, often muddy course from Brandon Gap to Sherburn Pass. In early memories, I am standing with my parents atop Killington Peak, jumping into Little Rock Pond after a long hike with friends, rappelling off Deer Leap during summer camp. In high school I ran, skied, and snowshoed on the Long Trail and its extensive network of side trails. From these early experiences grew a life-long passion for endurance off-road sports. While in college in the early 90’s, I heard that some men from the U.S. Ski Team set a record for the fastest completion of the Long Trail. At the time I skied decently, but did not run fast, nor had I ever run longer than three hours. I did not know how long the trip took them, or even if what I had heard was true. Still the thought intrigued me. But mostly, the intriguing thought remained buried, a dormant seed, for nearly two decades.

Since leaving Vermont for further school and work, I’ve continued running, skiing, and snowshoeing. My resume includes eleven national championship titles and membership on thirteen national teams across three different sports. I ran in Asia, helping the U.S. Ultramarathon Team win gold. I ran in South Africa in a team effort to raise tens of thousands of dollars for orphans of HIV/AIDS. I competed in Europe and South America, on roads, alpine trails, and in jungles. I chose graduate school in physical therapy, a career which allows me to help injured athletes return to their sports, their passions. As a physical therapist, I worked in London, New York, and Montana. Now the Long Trail is calling me home. The seed planted so long ago began to sprout in the fall of 2010 when I proposed to my sponsor, The North Face, that they finance a planned September 2011 attempt the break the fastest know time record for an end-to-end trek of the Long Trail. By the following August all was ready. A teammate would join me for the attempt. We had trained all year for the run. Plans were solid. Nothing would stop us. Hurricane Irene was not in the plan.

During the final weekend of August 2011, Irene dumped 15 inches in parts of Vermont. 2000 miles away, I watched videos of wreckage. I called home (my parents and brother still live in Vermont) frequently. My friends and family were safe and healthy. Vermont’s landscape and infrastructure were not safe and healthy, however. The state closed over 260 roads, many miles of which were completely washed away. People lost businesses and homes. Images of iconic covered bridges floating roughly down violently swollen rivers lead feature stories on national news. As I watched and read news of the destruction, I cried. I cried over the loss of landmarks which play key roles in my memory. I cried for those who lost homes, family businesses, and jobs. And I cried because I lost my chance to complete the project that was the focus of an entire year of training and preparation. And then I cried because I felt guilty about mourning my loss, while others lost so much more.

So I decided to continue with my plan, delaying the attempt for a year until the summer of 2012.  I want to help Vermont recover.  Most roads are open.  Crews cleared out the most obvious destruction.  Hurricane Irene is an interesting memory for most people not directly affected by its wrath.  Big donations of money and volunteer muscle power have slowed.  Trails, back roads, and other property remain badly damaged.  I love Vermont.  I still call it home, as it was my first home.  I love the Long Trail where I learned to run technical trails.  I want now, more than ever, to eclipse the 4 day, 12 hour, and 46 minute record set by Jonathan Basham in 2009.  And though that record important to me, it leads me to a much more important goal.  I hope to generate at least $10,000 for the repair and maintenance of the Long Trail and its network of beautiful side trails.

2 thoughts on “The Long Trail – Nikki Kimball

  1. Pingback: Nikki Kimball – ‘Hints ‘n’ Tips’ Marathon des Sables #MDS2015 | Ian Corless host of Talk Ultra podcast

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