Nikki Kimball

Ultra Runner

If it weren’t for cross-country skiing, Nikki might never have discovered her love of distance running.

When skiing, her focus was always performance and race results, which often caused her to overlook the inherent beauty of the sport. But, running was different. It helped her train physically for skiing, but because the pressure to perform was lifted, she could completely lose herself in her natural surroundings and she noticed how running gave her the mental clarity and stress release she needed. She now runs competitively, but Nikki never forgets the real gift that running gives her. “Really, I just love to run,” she says. “I love to run enough that I often find myself lost, both literally and figuratively.”

Nikki’s love of running quickly developed into an amazing talent for it, and today she is one of the top female ultra runners, with numerous first-place finishes, course records and awards under her belt. She’s competed as a member of several U.S. teams, including the 100K, mountain running and snowshoe racing teams, and she is involved in the USATF as a member of the 100K Task Force.

Nikki lives in Bozeman, Montana, and works as an orthopedic physical therapist. She is co-creator of The Running Clinic, a monthly screening of runners and triathletes aimed at preventing injury and advising athletes on proper nutrition, training and footwear.

Nikki says, “I am proud to represent a company which gives generously to causes I care about. The North Face supports humanitarian and environmental causes domestically and abroad. The company is also interested in causes dear to the athletes it supports, from helping to fight childhood obesity in the US to helping ensure the safety of Sherpas in Nepal.

Not only does The North Face facilitate healthy, enriching lifestyles by selling products designed to help people enjoy outdoor exploration, but it supports initiatives to keep our environment healthy so that we CAN keep exploring and enjoying it.”

Favorite Destination: Any technical trail. I’ve yet to meet one I didn’t like.

Most Humbling Moment: The sport of ultrarunning is largely a series of humbling moments. As much as I’m amazed by what my body can do and the extremes it can handle, the sport constantly reminds me that I inhabit a body which requires constant upkeep I may have to slow my pace in response to relatively minor changes in temperatures or trail topography. I cannot race ultra distances without aid stations providing thousands of calories and liters of water. I cannot race fast without race volunteers and my own crew. Basically I cannot do any of the things I’ve done without constant governance of my innately human physical weaknesses and the selfless help of volunteers and crew.

Weakness: I’m not sure I want to let that secret out….

People Should Know:

  • Despite prosthetic bones in each ear, I’m still a bit deaf. If I’m asked a question and don’t hear all of it my brain tends to make stuff up. So people ought not to take my responses in conversation too seriously, particularly when I’m making even less sense than I normally do.
  • Though I’m a reasonably good cook (having done it professionally for about 3 years total), one won’t want to look into the kitchen when I’m through. I never really did learn to clean.

Dream Vacation: Still have to say hut to hut running in the Dolomites. With whom? The North Face endurance team! Author Bill McKibben should come along too. Not only does he write well, and about interesting subject matter, but he’d probably be able to run/hike successive 20+ mile days with us.

Favorite Magazine: The Economist

Favorite Piece Of Your Sport’s History: Ann Trason’s career. She made people notice women’s athletics is serious.

Words To Live By: I don’t want to limit myself by having a single phrase by which I live.

Three TNF Products You Always Pack: Single Track Shoes (they’re good from paved road to techy trails); hydrogen jacket (light, but essential in cold); GTD capri tight…good for a range of weather

Which Causes Are You Passionate About: Pet rescue; health/wellness in the US; women’s athletics; and thanks to Kami, care of children (and adults) affected by HIV/AIDS

Proudest Moment Of Your Career: 100km World Cup team first place in 2005 against the heavily favored home team in Japan.

Favorite Trail: The Bridger Ridge Bozeman

Theme Music for Training: A general mix, but I find This American Life and Car Talk are particularly nice on longer runs…downloaded books, too.

Training Nutrition: I eat gels, PB+J sandwiches, cheese and Gatorade.


  • Member of United States 100k Team 2001-2006. Placed 8th, 1st American, World Cup 2003, Tainan, Taiwan; placed 7th in world Cup 2005.
  • Scoring Member of the Gold Medal World Cup 100k Team 2005, with the United States Women upsetting heavily favored Japan.
  • Western States 100 Mile Champion 2004, 2006, 2007. Ran the second fastest female time in WS 100 history in 2007, 18:12:37. Miwok 100k champion 2006.
  • Champion (team and individual) 2009 Jungle marathon stage race, Para, Brazil, in new course record.
  • Ultra Tour Du Mount Blanc Champion 2007, Chamonix, France. Set new women’s course record.
  • 100 Mile National Champion 2008, beat course record by over 3 hours; 3rd overall (male/female), Tahoe Rim Trail 100, Nevada.
  • 50 Mile Trail National Champion 2003, Crystal Mountain, Washington. Broke Ann Trason’s course record by 11 minutes. Also50 Mile Trail National Champion 2004, 2005, and 2006, 2007 breaking own course record three more times.
  • 50 Mile Road National Champion 2005, State College, PA. Broke course record by 23 minutes.
  • Set course records at Vermont 50 Mile, Pisgah 50k, Bear 100, Finger Lakes 50 Mile (won outright (male/female) 2001), White River 50 Mile, Ice Age 50k, Zane Grey 50 Mile, Chuckanut 50k, Mt Masochist 50 Mile, Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Road, Spokane River Run 50k, The North Face Challenge 50 mile, Bellingham, WA, Pittsfield Peaks 53 mile, TRT 100 mile, The North Face Challenge 50 Bear Mountain, NY, The North Face Challenge 50 mile Atlanta Georgia, Pittsfield Peaks 50 mile, Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50k.
  • Ran sub-7:30 at Comrades Ultramarathon 2010
  • Masters Champion Team Transrockies Stage Race 2010 and 2011
  • Won American River 50 Mile 2003 in the fastest 50 mile time (including road races) by an American woman in 2002-2003.
  • 2nd Place 2001 National 100k Championships, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • 3-time winner of the Montrail Ultra Cup

Mountain Running

  • Member of United States Mountain Running Team 2001-2003. Placed 24th, 2nd American, World Mountain Running Trophy 2003, Girdwood, AK.
  • Mt. Washington Road Race 2003, 2nd place, 1st American.
  • New England Mountain Running Champion 2001, runner-up 2003.
  • Set course records at Whiteface Footrace, Prospect Mountain Road Race, Killington Klimb, Mt. Kearsarge Road Race, Mt. Greylock ½ Marathon trail race.

Trail Running * Bridger Ridge Run,Bozeman, MT: 1st place 2004, course record, first (and only) woman under 4 hours at 3:53. Subsequently broke own record in 2009 at 3:43. Placed first again 2010 and 2011.

  • Grand Tree Trail Race Series (New England trail race championship series): Undefeated in all Grand Tree races run 2000-2002.
  • Set course records in 9 New England Grand Tree races, 2000-2003.
  • Pennsylvania State Trail Running Champion 1998 at Tyler Arboretum near Philadelphia.

Road Running

  • Set course records in varying distances in Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and England, U.K.
  • USATF-MT 10 km Road Champion 2007, 2008.
  • USATF-MT Marathon Champion 2007. Montana Marathon Champion 2008, course record.
  • Salt Lake City marathon Champion 2010.
  • Lewis and Clark Marathon Champion (and 3rd overall, male/female) 2011.
  • New England Marathon Champion 2001, Cape Cod Marathon, MA.
  • Road marathon wins also include Adirondack Marathon, Schroon, NY; Green Mountain Marathon, Grand Isle, VT; Great Potato Marathon, Boise, ID; Lewis and Clark Marathon, Bozeman, MT (multiple years); Bozeman Marathon (course record 2011)

Snowshoe Racing and Randonee Racing

  • U.S. National Champion 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007 runner-up, 2003.
  • Member of U.S. National Team Member 2003-06, and 07-08.
  • Began Randonee Racing 2010. 5th American US National Championships 2012; 2nd Pro Division Skin To Win, MT 2011 and 2012; 1st female, tie for 2nd overall (male/female) lap count in King and Queen of the Ridge, Bridger Bowl, MT 2011; 1st overall (m/f) and new course record 2012.

Cross Country Ski Racing and Biathlon

  • Champion Coureus des Bois 2009. Broke course record by 2 hours.
  • Champion West Yellowstone Rendezvous (50k American Ski Marathon Series event), 2006; 2nd 2007.
  • Champion Sacagawea Classic 30k, Bozeman MT, 2006, 2007., Champion Teton Ridge Classic 2008.
  • Top 5 finish Craftsbury Marathon, VT 2006, 2007; 2nd Place Lake Placid Loppet 50k 2008.
  • 11th place American Birkebeiner 2007 (distance cut in half secondary to lack of snow)
  • 2007 Montana State Games Champion, Summer Biathlon.

Awards, Other Athletic Achievement and Running Community Involvement

  • With teammates Kami Semick and Mike Wardian, raised over $20,000 for Vukukhanya, a community-based AIDS orphan project in South Africa
  • North American Female Ultra Runner of Year 2003, 2004, 2007(Ultrarunning Magazine).
  • United States Track and Field Ultra Runner of the Year 2004, 2006, 2007
  • Contributor of the Month, Runner’s World magazine July 2009
  • Member of USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail Council 2002-2005; Championship Chair 2005.
  • Member of the 100k Task Force for USATF, one of 5 athletes nominated by the President of USATF to establish 100k selection standards and resolve political disputes within our ultra running community.
  • Member of US Snowshoe Association advisory board 2004-2005.
  • 1st place team (Nike/ACG) Moab Adventure Xstream, 2005
  • 1994 15k Biathlon U.S. Olympic Team Trials, 13th place.
  • 1989-93 Williams College Ski Team, Skied to top-20 finishes in Division I NCAA National Championships all four years.
  • Two-time winner of the Williams College Alumnae Ski Award.

Published Articles * Published 13 pieces in Runner’s World magazine’s Body Shop section between September 2008-present. Each piece explores methods of injury prevention and health concerns specific to runners.