Holderness School took the first step of its Mountain Day journey at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, which sits in the shadow of the mountains and rock faces that students would climb that day. The granite and wood beam architecture of the chapel creates a deep sense of sanctity while the stained glass softens the space with radiant natural light. It’s the perfect place to gather for a brief moment of meditation before entering an equally sacred and wonderful wilderness.
And it was in this space that Holderness School awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award to Nikki Kimball ‘89, an alumna of unparalleled grit, gratitude, and goodness.
Nikki shared a moving reflection on how each of us strive to overcome deeply personal challenges and reach our own mountaintops. In Nikki’s case, this meant battling depression as she became one of the world’s top endurance runners - and a leading advocate for mental illness awareness.
Following the chapel, groups scattered across the White Mountain National Forest where they welcomed the first day of autumn by hiking, climbing, paddling, and fly fishing. Nikki joined Head of School Phil Peck and nine students for an unforgettable hike on Mount Eisenhower.
Check out Nikki’s award citation below.
Awarded annually, the Distinguished Alumni Award honors an alumnus or alumna who has displayed outstanding leadership and/or service in their community or professional field.
It’s safe to say that Nikki Kimball likes to run. In fact, she loves to run. And, she’s good at it; like among-the-best-in-the-world good.
When Nikki ran her first 100-mile race in 2004, she won it. That was just a warm-up. She went on to be the winning female at the legendary Western States 100
two more times and became the only person in history to place in the top 10 in ten attempts. In 2008, she won the 100-mile National Championship and beat the course record by three hours; that was just one of the twenty ultramarathon course records Nikki would go on to set. She’s won four 50-mile national championships. She’s represented the United States on the 100K National Team
for six years. She won the brutal Marathon Des Sables
, a 156-mile ultramarathon race across the Sahara. Some of you will climb Mount Washington today; Nikki ran to the top in just over an hour. She set the women’s record for the fastest time on Vermont’s Long Trail, which was made into the documentary “Finding Traction” -- check it out on Amazon
As if that wasn’t enough, she also likes to run with snowshoes on. Nikki was a three-time member of the US National Snowshoe Racing Team and won the national championship three times.
But Nikki isn’t winning this award because she’s won a lot of races. She’s winning this award because she’s an amazing person. Her athletic accomplishments are a platform to promote gender equity in sports, bring awareness to mental illness and advocate for those in its grip, and share the joy of lifelong fitness. She represents what we, as a school, seek to cultivate: alumni who are not only leaders in their field but are also committed to serving for the betterment of humankind and God’s creation.