Archive for August, 2012

273-miles of roots, rocks and mud.  67,000 feet in elevation gain in record-breaking time over the beautiful and brutal Green Mountains.  What does one take away from such an incredible athletic feat?  Click here to check out a post-expedition interview with Nikki Kimball on as she shares a few of the things that she took away from this journey.

Fours Five Productions Director of Photography Danny Schmidt films Nikki Kimball and pacer April Oberle Hayden as they approach Sherburne Pass on the Long Trail.

Way to go, Nikki!  We are so proud of you!  Nikki set a new women’s record on the Long Trail, completing the 273-mile run in 5 days, 7 hours and 42 minutes, running the 5th fastest time ever recorded on the trail.

Click here to listen to an interview with Nikki on Vermont Public Radio about how she did and the challenges she faced on the trail.

Above: Nikki has blown us all away with her courage, tenacity and determination on the trail.  Thanks for being such an inspiration to us!

Below: Nikki and her lead pacers, Dennis Ball and Jenny Pierce, pose at the finish.  The Southern Terminus of the Long Trail is located at the Vermont-Massachusetts state line near Williamstown, MA.

Please stay tuned as we’ll continue to post updates, photos and video clips of the expedition now that we’re off the trail and have solid internet access.

We’ll also pass along updates on the film as we enter post-production this fall.  We’re shooting for a nationwide release on PBS in early 2013, and are working to set up additional national (and potentially international) distribution outlets, including broadcast television, film festivals, community screenings and online release.

Many thanks to everyone who supported us on this expedition, and congratulations to the Kimball family, friends, support team, film crew and news media outlets across the states of Vermont and Montana who made this amazing adventure possible!


Read about Nikki Kimball’s incredible accomplishment on the Long Trail on The North Face’s athlete blog!

Update from Friday night:

As of 12midnight, Nikki Kimball was back on the trail, with just 37 miles to go, determined to finish her Long Trail expedition.  She will come in after the men’s record, but is trying to close the gender gap with the women’s.  We’re rooting for her and hoping to see her cross the finish line with her lead pacers, Jenny and Dennis, later today.

We’ll post more updates about Nikki’s expedition and what happened on the trail in the last 48 hours soon…

Here’s a few shots of Nikki’s support team helping her get ready for bed. She caught a little bit of sleep eye in the van amidst another thunderstorm on Day 3 of the expedition.



Click here to watch a short video of Nikki running on the summit of Camel’s Hump!

This footage was shot a few hours before sunset on Day 2 of Nikki’s Long Trail expedition.  She’d been running for approximately 35.5 hours at that point with nearly 100 miles under her belt and only 3 hours of sleep.

Hikers and runners alike have told us that Camel’s Hump — ascent, summit and descent — is the most technical and difficult section of the Long Trail.

This was also the last place we saw Nikki and her pacers — friend and fellow ultra runner Dennis and her brother Bill — before they started the “diasterous” (as Nikki coined it) descent down to Appalachian Gap.  Luckily everyone made it out of the woods safely that night.

Check out David’s post, “Crazy Night,” if you haven’t already for a rundown of what happened on the trail and at camp.

Day 2 update from one of Nikki’s pacers, her cousin David Wolfgang-Kimball:

Crazy night!  Yesterday mostly went well, with some impressive hiccups.  The major challenge (besides the mileage and the 4000 feet, 6.8-mile climb over Camel’s Hump) was emotion management.  A series of miscommunications led to Nikki thinking she was way behind, and she wasn’t.  Added to some equipment issues, this made for a hard few hours.

We got that sorted out on the way to the Hump, and Nik’s shoulders dropped about an inch in relief, and we all went back to the standard lowbrow on-trail gutter talk and joking.  Crew was doing the can-can as we entered Camel’s Hump.  Whatever it takes!!

We sent Nikki, her brother Bill, and pacer Dennis up the Hump, which is the largest unbroken climb on the trail.  The rest of us headed to Appalachian Gap (App Gap), where we thought we might see her around 8:30 or 9pm.  9pm rolls around, then 9:30, then 10 – and we are getting worried.  I scout the fire tower to see if it’s climbable for a view.  Satellite phones are switched on.  Worried film crew is filming worried running crew.

Plans are made: at 11pm, we are going to push all the emergency buttons, because it’s taking too long.  Even the sat phones are having trouble locking on.  We have four crew 2 miles down the trail, incommunicado, prepping food and night shots, and no idea where Nikki and company are.  Are they lost?  Injured?  This is extremely technical terrain, and it is dark, cold, windy, and a t-storm is coming in.

At 10:58pm, no joke, Nikki and Dennis emerge.  We take our fingers off the buttons and breathe a sigh of relief.  Nikki is wrecked: wordless, staring only down.

Plans to send her two miles down trail to shelter and food are abandoned, we rinse her off and tuck her into the van for 6 hrs of sleep.

But where is cousin Bill?  Dennis and Nik left him behind a few hours back… so the emergency planning starts again.  We send someone to retrieve the down trail crew, and the film crew starts interviewing me about my emergency plans for finding Bill.  He knows the trail, so that’s good, but it is cold and windy and the night is long.  Do we risk losing more people?  Ugh.

Then, miraculously, Bill’s father manages to get him on cell phone from a nearby town.  He’s fine and about a mile away.  Emergency over.

I am due for a short pacer leg at 5:30am, so I head to lodgings.  Just as we are pulling away, Bill steps out of the woods. Whew!

This AM Nikki was back to normal, and off we went.  Folks, this trail is extreme. slippery roots on rocks, mud, wet mossy rock, very steep, twisty, and minimal visibility even in daylight.  Think Murkwood.

Personal update: got a few hours sleep and a shower.  Dreamt I was kissing a beautiful girl, but had to run off to help Nikki.  Sorry beautiful girl, this is how it works up here.  Shout out to awesome pacers Dennis and Jenny (who slept under a truck during last night’s t-storm).

And now I’m about to run again.  The wheels on the bus go round and round…  A tough night, and a tense one, but all’s well that ends well.

Thanks all for your support.



This week Vermont native Nikki Kimball is attempting to become the fastest person to run the iconic Long Trail by breaking the world record for both men and women.  Kimball has been running continuously since 6:00AM on Monday morning, August 13, 2012, and today she navigated the tough technical sections of the trail up Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump.

Currently Kimball is headed south towards Appalachian Gap as part of her effort to break the Long Trail speed record set by Jonathan Basham on September 11, 2009.  Basham’s record stands at 4 days, 12 hours, and 46 minutes.  The women’s record is currently held at more than 7 days.

Kimball hopes to complete her run in less than four and a half days to become the fastest person in history to run the trail, with an expected finish at the Long Trail’s Southern Terminus along the Massachusetts border near Williamstown on Friday morning, August 17, 2012.

Kimball, who grew up in North Chittenden, learned to take her first steps just moments from the Long Trail.  She is a three-time winner of the North American Ultra Runner of the Year Award, three-time Western States winner and 2007 Ultra-Trail Du Mount Blanc winner.

As part of her expedition, Kimball will be raising money for Girls on the Run Vermont, a non-profit organization that inspires girls to become strong, healthy and confident through physical activity. “Through the gift of a donation I am hoping to make it possible to help every Vermont girl have access to the skills they need for success and health throughout all aspects of their lives.  This will be a very challenging attempt, but the bigger goal is to inspire women and girls of all ages, and show that there’s an equal place for women in professional sports, ” said Kimball.

Nearly a dozen volunteers are aiding Kimball in her record-breaking attempt on the Long Trail, including family and friends from Vermont, Montana and across the United States.  Pacers report that Kimball’s incredibly optimistic on the trail and feeling strong.  So far her pace is ahead of the current record holder.

A documentary film crew headed by Fours Five Productions and MontanaPBS is documenting Nikki’s expedition as part new documentary film, THE LONG TRAIL, set for air on PBS in 2013.  To learn more, visit the THE LONG TRAIL film’s website at:, and check out the Blog for live updates from the field.

What an amazing day!  Nikki logged in nearly 70 miles on Day 1 of her Long Trail expedition, running from 6 in the morning until just after 2am at night. The film crew and support team caught up with her as she came in to camp near Smuggler’s Notch, which is at the base of Mt. Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont.

To re-fuel, Nikki downed a classic All-American meal — a cheeseburger topped with bacon — before heading to bed in the back of the truck with plans to wake up three hours later at 5:30am.  Day 2 will start with a 3000+ ft climb, as she and pacer Jenny Pierce scramble up ladders and dodge crevasses while making their way up to The Chin of Mt. Mansfield.

Pacers report that Nikki’s incredibly optimistic on the trail and feeling strong. So far her pace is ahead of the current record holder.

Check out some photos below from the evening, and stay tuned for updates from Day 2 of the expedition!  ~ Jaime

Trailhead sign at Eden Crossing, approximately 29 miles in to the trail from the Northern Terminus


Blister maintenance from the support team at Eden Crossing

The crew pours over the map to figure out the location of the next aid station on the trail

The crew pours over the map to figure out the location of the next aid station on the trail

Off with the shoes and down with the burger at 2:30am at Smugg's

Off with the shoes and down with the burger at 2:30am at Smugg's


At 2:20pm, Nikki rolled in to the Belvidere Mountain trailhead on Route 118, close to 30 miles down… she’s doing great! Here are some pictures from this morning…

Nikki runs Jay Peak

Nikki runs Jay Peak

Nikki ties her shoe

Nikki ties her shoe

Nikki crosses Jay Pass

Nikki crosses Jay Pass


The film was funded!