Girls join champion for run

Joel Reichenberger
Run, Rabbit Run 100-mile race champion Nikki Kimball leads Steamboat Springs students in the Girls on the Run program on a run Wednesday at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
Joel Reichenberger

— Nikki Kimball has more than enough running looming in her near future.

Kimball is one of the world’s most elite ultra-marathon runners and will start Friday at noon in her quest to defend her win in last year’s 100-mile Run, Rabbit Run Ultra-marathon in Steamboat Springs.

Still, the Montana-based runner didn’t mind at all taking a little time Wednesday to log a few laps with a batch of eager young Steamboat Springs girls.

Kimball has been associated with the Girls on the Run organization since 2012, when she selected the group as a beneficiary for a documentary, “Finding Traction,” which chronicled her assault on a 273-mile trail in Vermont’s Green Mountains.

Wednesday, she helped the organization in Steamboat Springs, speaking to a local group, then leading it on a run outside Steamboat Springs Middle School.

“When I was at my peak, women were clearly second-class to men,” said Kimball, a cross-country skiing and biathlon athlete in the 1980s before she took up ultra-marathoning.

“It’s getting better, but it’s not where it needs to be,” she said. “Organizations like Girls on the Run teach girls how to perpetuate the equality that’s starting.”

Girls on the Run is a 10-week program build around empowering elementary and middle school girls. Divided into groups, the girls meet after school and run, all building up to a 5-kilometer run in November.

Wednesday, those girls had a heck of a mentor on hand, and they bombarded her with questions about her career, then later sought autographs.

“She talked to the girls about how running and moving is a part of your life,” said Jacqueline Teuscher, a local coach. “She talked about how running can get you through hard times and what you can achieve when you set your heart on it.

“She’s a great role model.”

The local Girls on the Run program will show Kimball’s movie next month, tentatively Oct. 17, as a fundraiser.

“I want to see a day where Girls on the Run isn’t needed,” Kimball said. “I love that every generation of girls is facing less gender inequality. It’s wonderful to look at these girls and hope they don’t have to go through some of the fights their foremothers have.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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