Nikki Kimball ’93 won a gold medal at the World Cup 100-K.

Kimball was on the United States women’s team that won the World Cup 100-K last month in Hokkaido, Japan. She covered the 62.1 miles in 8:22.58, making her the second runner of the United States team to finish and placing her seventh overall.

She might have even enjoyed the moment on the podium more if she could have prepared for it. But it all caught her by surprise, and the magnitude of the accomplishment had not even hit her by the time she climbed down from the medal stand.

“We were just hoping to medal. We didn’t think in our wildest dreams we would be first,” Kimball said. “Japan was the overwhelming favorite. When they played the national anthem, I was emotional but not as emotional as I thought I would be. It didn’t seem real.”

Greg Crowther ’95 finished 20th in the men’s field as part of a US team that came in fourth. More on Kimball here and Crowther here. More on both below.

This article has lots of fun material on both Kimball and Crowther.

If you have ever watched ultra runners at the post-race awards ceremony, you would think you were in a war encampment after the battle. They hobble to the table to pick up their trophy, grimacing as they work at putting one foot ahead of the other.

But Nikki Kimball and Greg Crowther are not nuts. They are way too successful and too goal-oriented to be thrown in a can of cashews.

But the most amazing aspect of their story is that in a sport where the races are enormous, their world has become very small. Kimball and Crowther are two of the 12 athletes to earn a spot on the United States 100K team that will compete in the World Cup in Japan on June 26. Yet, they both attended Rutland High School and graduated from Williams College.

What are the odds?

“I was in the seventh grade and she was in the ninth grade. She was this red-haired girl that was in the same cross-country race,” recalled Crowther. “Little did I know that 20 years later we would be in the same races.”

Unlike Kimball, Crowther did not make his mark athletically at Williams immediately. His climb to respectability and then stardom was one of perseverance. His first two years with the Ephs he was one of the “slow boys,” the term at Williams is used for runners not likely to contribute to the team’s success. They are allowed to run only in meets that are not used to qualify for the conference meet and NCAAs.

But Crowther began to flourish as a junior. He was voted captain his senior year and went on to help the Ephs to their first national title while he earned All-conference and All-New England honors in cross-country

His performance was just as remarkable in the classroom at Williams as he made Dean’s List every semester, was voted graduation speaker by Phi Bet Kappa, was a GTE Academic All American and won an NCAA postgraduate scholarship.

Congratulations to both on a race well-run.

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