William Kimball: Running Legend

Ezra Dan, Reporter


William Kimball has been teaching at West High School for years now and is well known. But what many students don’t know is the German teacher was a former collegiate and national-level runner.

Mr. Kimball (Herr Kimball to his German students) was born in Seattle, Washington but grew up in different places in Europe, Palo Alto, California, and Eugene, Oregon. Kimball ran at the University of Oregon, one of the most prestigious college running programs in the U.S.

He redshirted his first year at Oregon as a freshman, running in open races, then for the next four years ran on the varsity cross-country running team and track and field team. As a sophomore at the U of O, he ran for the US junior national team in Japan. Kimball ran in multiple races, but specialized in marathons.

In December 1993, he set a personal best for the marathon finishing 8th in the California International with a time of 2:16:53.

“The year I ran that 2:16:53 at Cal was about two months too early to qualify for the US Olympic Trials. And the Trials qualifying time was, and I think still is, 2 hours and 20 minutes. About a year later in September I ran the Berlin Marathon. In that race, I finished 2:17:10 and I was the top American in that race.” he says.

He finished 22nd in that race, qualifying for the 1996 US Olympic Trials in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Oh it was fantastic. Just a great atmosphere about making the Olympic team. I was ranked 17th, my best year, that was ‘96. My odds were pretty low, but you never know. You put on good race together and you’re there,” Kimball said of making the trials. In those trials, he finished 25th with a time of 2:20:21.

Three years later, in 1999, Kimball finished in the top 50 for the London Marathon and finished 39th in the LaSalle Banks Chicago Marathon. Again, he raced in the Olympic Trials in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania finishing 37th with a time of 2:29:13. In 2000, after the trials, Kimball won the Humpy’s Classic and the next year finished the New York Marathon at 47th place.

From 2004 to 2005 he raced in three marathons: the 2004 and 2005 Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon and the 2004 Honolulu Marathon. He won both Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon and finished in the top 10 in the Honolulu Marathon.

Mr. Kimball has also raced all over Europe including London, Berlin, Turku, Finland, and Japan. Kimball was also the head cross-country running coach and girls track coach for West for nine years.

Brian Hanni, a student in Kimball’s German 4 class, knows about his career as a runner and ran on the West High Cross-Country team. “Herr Kimball is a great teacher. He’s knows how to keep you from getting bored in his class.” Brian said.

Kimball teaches classes from German 1 to German 4 and Health and Wellness. Kimball’s wife, Jenny Kimball, also teaches US Government and US History at West.

Does he have any advice for West High School runners? Kimball’s running philosophy is run strongly and smoothly. “My whole topic about running can be summarized in one sentence and that’s run strongly and smoothly. Which, of course isn’t as easy as it sounds. You can run smooth and strong at the same time, and that’s the trick.”