Kami Semick

Ultra Runner

Kami began competitive distance running on the cross-country team at the University of Alabama, a school she chose because she thought it would be culturally and climatically different from her Pacific Northwest upbringing, and it most certainly was…

Following college, Kami moved to Atlanta, Georgia where her weekdays were spent working and weekends spent competing in triathlons. Eventually her West Coast roots called her back, much to Kami’s delight. Settling in San Francisco, she tried her hand at mountaineering, first conquering the “small stuff” and then working her way to the heights of Denali, Alaska. However, the time and travel demands of the sport meant time spent away from her husband and child. After missing her daughter’s second birthday because she was climbing Denali, she started searching for adventures that continued to challenge her, but also supported her desire to stay closer to home..

Enter: ultrarunning. As Kami explains it, “With ultra running, I can take the family with me, have a mini adventure, and be back in time for dinner that night, or breakfast the next day.”

Kami reached the highest level of the sport by winning the 2009 World Cup 100-km in Tourhout, Belgium. In the same year, she also went on to win the World Trophy 50k Championship in Gibraltar. She is a multi-time road and trail national champion in distances ranging from 50 kilometers to 50 miles. Kami is also qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trails in the marathon distance. She was awarded the Ruth Andersen Award for “USA Track and Field Ultra Runner of the Year” in 2009 and 2010. UltraRunning Magazine has also twice ranked her the “Top Ultra Runner in the North America.”

Hometown: Living in Hong Kong temporarily, but home base is Bend, Oregon, USA

Favorite Destination: Eastern Tibet

Favorite Cook and Dish: Myself, anything fresh

What I Get Out Of My Sport: The pureness of moving through nature

Most Humbling Moment: Standing at the start line of a 100mile race

How I Relax: Glass of wine and good company

Three Things You Always Pack: Coffee, running shoes, toothbrush

Favorite North Face Product: Feather Lite Storm Blocker Jacket

Ultra Marathon Highlights:

  • USA Track & Field Ultra Runner of the Year: 2010, 2009
  • Ultra Running Magazine’s Ultra Runner of the Year: 2009, 2008
  • 100K IAU World Cup Champion: 2009
  • 50K IAU World Trophy Champion: 2009
  • USA Track & Field 50-Mile National Trail Champion, 2010
  • USA Track & Field 50K National Trail Champion, 2010, 2007
  • USA Track & Field 50K National Road Champion, 2009
  • Comrades Marathon Gold Medalist: Third place Overall Female, 2011; Fourth Place Overall Female 2010
  • Western States 100Mile Overall Female Runner-Up: 2011
  • Vermont 100-Mile Champion and Course Record Holder: 2010
  • Miwok 100K Five Time Overall Female Champion
  • Numerous 50K – 100-K Overall Female Course Wins
  • Oxfam Trailwalker 100K Hong Kong: Women’s team course record: 2012
  • The North Face Beijing 100K: Women’s Champion: 2012
  • Hong Kong Round the Island 65K: omen’s time trial record holder: 2013

Marathon Highlights:

  • 2012 United States Olympic Trials Qualifier
  • Portland Marathon Female Overall Winner (Two-time)
  • Seattle Marathon Female Overall Winner
  • Silicon Valley Marathon Female Overall Winner

2006:

  • Ranked 3rd overall for Women Ultra Runners of the Year by UltraRunning Magazine
  • 11th place finish overall for Women’s 100k World Cup, South Korea
  • 50k National Trail Champion, Headlands 50k, new course record
  • Second place overall finish 50 mile National Trail Championship, White River 50 mile

2005:

  • Trail Runner magazine’s Trophy Series Overall Champion, women’s ultra category
  • Montrail Ultracup 100K Series Champion
  • Ranked 4th overall for 2005 Women Ultra Runners of the Year by UltraRunning magazine
  • Ranked 5th for 2005 Performance of the Year by UltraRunning magazine (Helen Klein Classic 50-Mile)
  • Helen Klein Classic 50-Mile, Granite Bay, California: 1st place women’s open, course record (6:13)
  • Just Around the Bend Marathon, Bend, Oregon: 1st place women’s open, course record (2:58)
  • Great Eastern 100K Endurance Run, Charlottesville, Virginia: 2nd place women’s (10:25)
  • Where’s Waldo 100K, Willamette Pass, Oregon: 1st place women’s open, course record (12:02)
  • White River 50-Mile, White River, Washington: USA Track & Field 50-mile Trail Championship, 2nd place (7:56)
  • Kettle Moraine 100K Endurance Run, LaGrange, Wisconsin: 1st place overall male and female, course record male and female (9:45)
  • McDonald Forest 50K, Corvallis, Oregon: 1st place women’s open
  • Miwok 100K Trail Run, Sausalito, California: 1st place women’s open (9:30)
  • Peterson Ridge Rumble 60K Trail Run, Sisters, Oregon: 1st place women’s open, course record
  • Haggs Lake 50K Trail Run, Oregon: 1st place women’s open, course record
  • Angel Island New Years Day 50K Trail Run, San Francisco, California: 1st place women’s open, course record

2004: * Seattle Marathon, Seattle, Washington: 1st place women’s open (2:53)

Digital meets the trail at UTMB...

August 9 2011
Source: Mud Sweat and Tears UK
The North Face® have unveiled an exciting new LiveTrail APP integrating Facebook© and Twitter© which allows fans, family and followers to virtually run alongside the world’s premier ultra-runners at The North Face® Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® 2011. Each runner, tracked by a chip, provides data such as location, ranking and timing each time they go through a checkpoint. LiveTrail APP, a widget that connects the live tracking with the runner’s social media profiles, automatically posts their location details on their Facebook© and Twitter© pages. Runners can connect to LiveTrail APP from August 2011 directly from their personal runner’s page on the race website or on eu.thenorthface.com. Reporting in real-time from Chamonix throughout the weekend of the 26th-28th August, race highlights and behind-the-scene stories will be posted on The North Face® Facebook© page at regular intervals. From the start to the finish line, live updates will be posted from the course via Twitter©. On The North Face® blog, thenorthfacejournal.com, text, video posts & photos will be posted daily. The North Face® is the leading community outdoor brand with nearly 1.3 million Facebook© fans. In a unique opportunity, ultra-run fans can also post their questions to The North Face® top athletes via Facebook©. Videoed athlete responses will be posted on Facebook® the day before The North Face® UTMB® starts. In its 9th edition, The North Face® Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc® takes place during August 22-28th 2011 in Chamonix, France. 5,500 competitors from 58 different nations take part in one of four races: headline course The North Face® UTMB® 166km max. 46 hrs; CCC® 98km max. 26 hrs; TDS 110km max. 31hrs; PTL 300km: non-stop. The North Face® UTMB®, of which 2,300 will compete, crosses nine high elevation mountain passes, with a total positive height gain of 9,500 metres, circling the Mont Blanc massif through three countries—France, Italy and Switzerland.

Interview | Two Runners with The North Face: Rory Bosio & Kami Semick

July 26 2011
Source: Wanderlust
Recently, we had the chance to sit down and talk with Rory Bosio and Kami Semick, our runners who represent The North Face that will be joining us at Squaw Valley in just a few days! Unfortunately, if you are not signed up for their running & asana classes, they are full. Here is your chance to get to know them, off the mat and off the track. Rory Bosio What is your favorite yoga pose or series to do before or after a run, and why? I love to do pigeon after a run. Running really locks my hips up but pigeon helps release them, although any progress I make is obliterated with my next long run! How important to your running is having another activity, like swimming, yoga, weight lifting, etc.? Variety is key to prevent injury and to keep your workouts fresh & exciting. I cross country and back country ski in the winter. In the summer I maintain core/upper body strength with paddle boarding & yoga. What advice do you have for yogis who want to become runners? Make it fun! Running shouldn't be just about getting in shape. You'll get way more out of it if you don't view it as a chore. It is a way to explore, and have fun with friends or just connect to nature. I love trail running so I would say find a trail, way more interesting than the road! How does running benefit your mind -- beyond the physical workout? Running is the best mind clearer! I use it to unwind after work or just to daydream. If I haven't run in a couple of days I get cranky. What do you do besides yoga and/or running to balance your life? I love being outdoors as much as possible with my dog and friends. That and what a lot of octogenarians do: crossword puzzles & reading. Do you have a mantra -- for your life or specifically for when you're running? Have fun! I keep this in the back of my mind when I'm racing. My worst races are when I'm too serious and my best results always are when I'm smiling all day. Running is a privilege and my body's way of expressing joy. Love it! Kami Semick What is your favorite yoga pose or series to do before or after a run, and why? Warrior three - it fires the glutes. How important to your running is having another activity, like swimming, yoga, weight lifting, etc.? It is very important to cross train focusing on core strength. Other cardio cross training for me is not as important - except in the winter when it can be hard to run. In the winter I usually XC Ski. What advice do you have for yogis who want to become runners? I think it's important to know that running tightens the muscles, which is a natural outcome of running. So you just have to know that as your miles go up, you will not be able to go as deep into some yoga poses. I think yoga is important in keeping muscles open and fluid, but a balance must be struck when you add running, especially high mileage running, into the mix. How does running benefit your mind -- beyond the physical workout? While running, I think it's beneficial to take the focus from yoga of being able to breathe into a muscle group and focus on it opening, and apply that to muscles while running. Thanks to yoga, if I am feeling tight in a certain area, I can focus on relaxing that muscle group. What do you do besides yoga and/or running to balance your life? Spend time with family and friends. There is nothing better than getting together with a friend or having dinner with your husband and relaxing with some wine. Usually good conversation and laughter flows and rejuvenates everything. Do you have a mantra -- for your life or specifically for when you're running? Relax...Flow...

Western States - a Bearish Ending

June 28 2011
Source: Kami Semick
I was in Northern California last weekend for Western States 100.  Nature handed us a beautiful day as we headed out from Squaw Valley at 5am on our 100 mile journey.  Everything was going to plan – start conservatively, have a solid middle and then hold on for the end.  Except the end threw way more at me than I planned. I had passed Tracy Garneau for the lead around mile 90 at Browns Bar Aid Station.  We exchanged pleasantries, and then my pacer, Prudence L’Heureux, and I, set off for the Hwy 49 Crossing (93.5) where we would see our crew for the last time, then onto No Hands Bridge (mile 96.8).  I had been battling stomach issues since the trail from Forest Hill down to the river, so although I was still moving forward, and close to hitting the sub 18-hour time frame, I wasn’t feeling especially spiffy.  But I didn’t think I needed to feel spiffy, as I knew I was extending my lead over Tracy, and we had less than 5 miles to go.  So when I heard what sounded like a big guy charging the downhill around 95 miles, I shifted aside and waved him through.  Well the him was a her, and it was Ellie Greenwood.  “That” I thought to myself “is impressive.”  I tried to respond for all of 10 feet, but knew I just didn’t have it in me to challenge her pace on the downhill.  But, I thought that there was a chance that she was going to blow up, and I still had the ability to run, and was able to run the hills.  Knowing we had our last big climb ahead of us up to Robie Point, I didn’t think I was out of the game. And once I hit the pavement of the last mile, I knew I could fly.“Stop!”  Prudence my pacer had stopped in the middle of the trail as we were about ½ mile from Robie Point (98.9 miles).  “Bear.”  I wasn’t that concerned – just yell and clap and a bear is supposed to run away.   The bear was going up a tree overhanging the trail, and Prudence was sure she saw a cub with it.   Mom and cub, now that is a little more concerning.  We paused for a few seconds, then decided to make some noise to scare if off.  We clapped our hands and waved our arms and yelled as we moved forward.  The bear dropped to the trail and started towards us hissing.  The thought flashed in my mind “I didn’t know bear’s hissed.”  We yelled some expletives as we ran back down the trail.  We stopped after a couple hundred feet, sure that the bear wasn’t fully charging us, and gathered ourselves.  What the hell do we do?   There was no way to “go around the bear” as the trail is cut into a hillside, with thick brush and rock on both sides.  We considered running back down to No Hands to get some help, but I ruled that out.  We could see the aid station lights at Robie Point, so we started yelling for them.  No response.  We yelled louder, flashed our lights.  I couldn’t believe that another runner had not come up the trail yet.  Finally we saw a headlamp moving down the trail from Robie Point.  Wanting to make sure the person knew what to expect, I yelled “be careful, it’s a bear with a cub”.  The headlamp turned around and went back up.  After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only 10 or so minutes, Tracy and her pacer showed up.  According to the splits, they were 7 minutes back at Hwy 49 crossing, and add another few miles to that, we were probably 10 or so minutes ahead.  Our conversation went something like this:  “Why are you stopped?”  “Bear and cub, and she’s angry.”  “Oh bear, we have those in Canada, let’s go.”  So as Tracy and her pacer lead the way, the bear once again drops out of the tree and starts for us.  We all run back down the trail. “Oh shit, you were right, she is angry”   “Yeah, that’s why we’ve been standing here for TEN MINUTES!!”  As we all contemplate the situation, we see another set of lights coming up the trail.  Another runner, male, and a pacer.  “Why are you stopped?”  “Angry bear with cub.”  “FUCK THE BEAR, I WANT TO FINISH!!”  “We don’t want to see you get mauled.” He flashes his lights up the trail and sees the bear in the tree.  “Shit, we should all just stick together, walk slowly, stay as a group.”  Thinking there is safety in numbers, we all start up the trail, sweet-talking the bear “Please let us by, we just want to fin…”, Bear drops out of the tree and it’s all elbows and high knees.  I am ashamed to say that my only instinct was to make sure that I am not the last person.  There is no camaraderie when you’ve got a bear chasing you uphill.  At least we had gotten past the fulcrum and were able to go up the trail instead of down.  After about a hundred yards, we realized the bear let up, we all slow down.   Shaking our heads and still affected with temporary Tourette’s, we make our way to the aid station.The volunteers at Robie Point were sparse with their words.  We said “There was an angry bear on the trail.”  “Yes.” “Did you hear us yelling at you?”  “Yes.”  That was it.  Granted there is probably nothing in the volunteer manual on “angry bear containment,” but I found it interesting at mile 99, I had more words than they did.  With a little over a mile to go, I am emotionally done with the race.  Prudence and I start jogging in, both still dumbfounded about the bear experience and all the time lost.  With about a half-mile to go, we hear fast moving feet and see lights coming from behind.  Then I hear the voice of my friend, Nikki Kimball.   My first reaction is “Nikki is feeling better and having a great race.”  Then I realize it’s me she’s racing.  “Nikki, did you see the bear on the trail?”  “No bear, just a rattle snake”  “Your not going to make me race you in, are you?”  With that, she did not respond, only accelerated.  Honestly, had the tables been turned and it was me catching up to the second place person, I would race too.  So, it was game on.  Half a mile to go and we are approaching 10k race pace.  We hit the track with me in front, and I hear my sister yell “she’s catching you!”  So I shift gears once again to put a little more cushion in between us.  As we cross the finish line, all I can think is “Really?”  Did this last 5 miles really just happen?   (video of the sprint finish)

Comrades 2011

June 4 2011
Source: Kami Semick
I returned to South Africa last week to run the historic Comrades Marathon race.   The specifics:  86.97 kilometers (54 miles).  This year was an “up” run – starting in Durban and ending in Pietermaritzburg.  The first marathon climbs about 2200 ft, with very little decent.  The remaining 28 miles rolls, gaining about  3500 ft and losing about the same.  20,000 people entered the 2011 race, and I think I read 14,000 showed up at the start.  As I talked about in my post about last year’s experience, South Africa has a complex political and social environment.  Granted huge amounts of progress have been made since the end of apartheid in 1990, but coming from the United States, it is difficult to not feel a little out of step with the surrounding environment.   South Africans live in a very “on guard” state.  Durban itself can be very unsafe.  Daytime safe zones dot the city map, and security guards are in place 24/7 to ensure these areas stay safe.  At night, movement is extremely restricted, and day and night, taxicabs are scrutinized to ensure they are “safe” before taking a ride.   That being said, there are only a few bad eggs that make it an unsafe environment.   But it is the vast majority of the people of South Africa that are the grounding force and make the overall experience wonderful.  This year I ran for NedBank, a South African based running club.  The athletic system in South Africa is organized around a club system, which comes into play in major events such as Comrades.  Serious contenders run for a South African club which gives the runners access to crew points along the course as well as club incentives and other perks such as transportation and accommodations.  I chose to stay at a small Bed and Breakfast versus staying with the team at a large hotel.  It was important to me to be able to prepare my own food and to distance myself from the pre-race commotion.  At the recommendation of my friends from Bend who were also running Comrades, Geof Hasegawa and Tonya Littlehales, I booked a room at the Rosetta House, which is located in the “safe” neighborhood of Morningside in Durban.  Being at the Rosetta House allowed me to be able to walk to a local grocery store, chill when I needed to chill and to have a wonderful, home environment from which I could prepare myself for the race.  Bill and Lee, owners of the Rosetta House, were over the top in helping to accommodate my needs.  Their hospitality and the quiet location was exactly what I needed in order to recover from the travel and get myself mentally prepared to race.  The race started at 5.30 am.  In order to avoid the anxiety from last year where we arrived at the start only 5 minutes before the gun, we left the B&B at 4 am so that we would have plenty of time to navigate the congestion and arrive without raising my heart rate.    It maybe funny to read, but the race went by in a blur.  One would think that running for six and a half hours would be tedious with a lot of time to think and take everything in, but I really don’t remember much. The first half seemed dark, and the second half I was uber focused.  The highlights for me – the first third I didn’t feel snappy.   In fact, I thought I was going to have a mediocre day.  So this reinforced my mantra to conserve in the first half so that I could run the second half.    By the halfway point, I felt my energy start to flow, and I started pulling away from the people around me.  The last quarter of the race, I was in full flowing mode.  I felt like I was running solidly, and assuming that I could keep a steady flow of calories coming in, I was going to be able to hammer to the end.  I think I was six minutes back from the Russian twins at the halfway point, and was able to pull in four of those minutes in the last 27k.  The stats:  7.10 per mile pace through 42.96 kilometers; 7.08 pace for the remaining 44 kilometers.  One surprise that I had was how long and steep the final climb, Polly Shortts, was with less than 12k to go.  It’s proof that you can study something on a map, and even run it from the other direction (down) and neither does it justice for hitting such a long, steep climb almost 50 miles into a fast road race.  Most people around me were walking up the hill.  I remember mentally thinking “oh good, no one is running this hard, so I’m just going to do a plodding run up it.”  And plod I did, but I managed to pass a handful of runners along the way.  In fact, the video of me coming over the crest of Polly Shortts says it all - - I can see how heavy my legs felt and how it took a good 400 meters to get rolling again.  Once again, the crowds along the way were phenomenal.  It's hard to express the complete joy I felt in the second half all due to the people who came to watch the race and who put so much energy into cheering and encouraging each and every runner.  How can I ever repay that?  Thank you, once again, South Africa.  Comrades Results: Men

      Stephen Muzhingi (ZIM) 5:32.45

      Fanie Matshipa (RSA) 5:34.29

      Claude Moshiywa (RSA) 5:42.05

      Jonas Buud (SWE) 5:42.44

      Gift Kelehe (RSA) 5:43.59

Women

      Elena Nurgalieva (RUS) 6:24.11

      Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS) 6:24.35

      Kami Semick 6:26.24 (US)

      Ellie Greenwood (GBR) 6:32.46

      Farwa Mentoor (RSA) 6:35.49