Nikki Kimball's "Finding Traction"

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After an exhausting day in the office, I honestly didn't want to go to the screening of "Finding Traction" last Thursday at Bozeman Running Company—but I'm so glad I did.

When I arrived, the place was packed. Nikki Kimball was deep in conversation with a group of four that were hanging on every word, and director Jaime Jacobson was flitting around, alternating between thanking each person individually for coming and fussing with the big screen that was about to introduce her film to this group of nearly 75 people.
 

Nikkie Kimball & Jaime Jacobson

"Finding Traction" is a story of grit—peppered with a healthy dose of insanity. It's the tale of ultrarunner Nikki Kimball's lifelong ache to be the fastest person—man or woman—to run the Long Trail in Vermont. Originally from New England, Kimball grew up longing to traverse all 273 miles of the deeply wooded, often wet, and always leaf-laden trail on her own two feet—and in true Kimball fashion, as quickly as possible.

As the house lights dimmed and the first frames of the trailer came into focus, I was mesmerized by the story of Nikki's training—and stunned that women in trail running are hardly celebrated as athletes. She recounted how she barely got a mention after she won the Tour de Mont Blanc, an ultrarace in France, despite detailed bios of the top six male finishers in the same newspaper. 
 

Movie-goers mingling at BRC

It would be one thing if the story simply pulled at the heartstrings—but after spending entirely too much time watching movies with my filmmaker roommate, I can soundly say that the cinematography is fantastic. I don't know Jaime Jacobson's film background, but each frame is beautiful. It's not your run-of-the-mill documentary with ambiant noises and jiggly frames. Just watch the trailer and prepare to be blown away. Through the heavily wooded Northeast, with pacers wearing an extra 30+ pounds medical supplies, energy snacks, and film equipment, you get to run alongside Nikki the whole way. You get to see the beauty of Vermont at night and the sheer exhaustion that overwhelms Nikki each day.

The shame is that they don't have money to finish the film. They need to raise another $100,000 and they need to do it soon. I can't remember many running tales (or any outdoor tales for that matter) that bring modern women into the spotlight as formidible leaders in the field and are as beautifully shot as this one. To be honest, I watched a few well-known documentaries on Netflix this weekend that didn't even come close to being as entertaining and emotionally captivating as Nikki's story.

Watch the preview below, and if you've get even the slightest curiosity about how it all ends up, contact Jaime or head over to the film's website and see how you can help. (For more info and articles on local trail running, visit the trail-running section of our website.)

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