Introduction by Jim Mackenzie
I remember growing up in southern
New Hampshire and starting to run races around New England. Back then there was very few races on any given weekend and the competition was really deep. It seemed like every race I went to either Mark or Dean Kimball were vying for top honors. In 1982, my senior year I remember the old Exeter Kiwanis 10km where Mark locked horns with Greg Meyer, in which Meyer won in 29:00 to Kimball’s 29:02. Meyer went on the following spring to win the Boston Marathon, the last native-born American to do so.
I was in awe of this performance by a local guy. It was validation, it was hope that if you work really hard at running, you can on any given day run with the best of the best. You might not win every time, but compete you will. I was inspired.
Some 10 years later I trained with Dean on a daily basis, what I learned most is to be consistent, persistent and tenacious. To me, Dean was more serious and to the point. Mark was more laid back and easy going. But on race day they came poised to win as they took on all challengers. In their heyday this brother tandem was the real “Dynamic Duo”.
You can’t have a discussion about New Hampshire cross country accomplishments without including the Kimball family. Three generations of champions starting with now Grandfather Norman Kimball winning the 1952 Class B Title for Sanborn High.
Running for Timberlane, Dean Kimball won the Class I title in 1975 and shared the title in a tie in 1976 with his brother Mark Kimball (Liam’s Dad). Mark went on to win the Class I Title in 1977. Mark is the first winner of the Meet of Champions in 1976, and went on to place 2nd in New England’s that year. In 1977, Mark repeated as winner of the Meet of Champions and went on to capture the New England Championship.
In 1981 at the NCAA Division 1 National Championships Mark ran for Boston University and Dean ran for the University of New Hampshire. Both earned the All-America Honors. In 1988 Tina (Moloney) Kimball (Liam’s mom) earned All-America honors for placing 8th for Providence College.
Now Liam Kimball won back to back Division 1 championships, and well fought Meet of Champions Runner-up. Good luck to Liam and all the New Hampshire runners at New England Cross Country Championships.
You are part of the famous Kimball running family. Please describe what this was like? Positives/Negatives (if any)
The positive was I had a built in training partner, Dean Kimball, right in the same household. Always easier when you had someone right there for a run. More importantly we had one of Dean’s best friend, Bob Roldan, who was a 1:57 half miler/sub 4:30 miler, was around the house a lot. It was just easy to get out there and be able to run with someone.
Really wasn’t a negative. Bob did 600 indoors, 800 outdoors. Dean was generally mile indoors, 2 mile outdoors. And I was 1000 indoors, mile outdoors. We basically didn’t have to race against each other all the time.
We also had Craig Fram, but he graduated when I was a sophomore. He mostly raced the 2 mile. John Cahalane was an easy coach to run for; no screaming.
Running was always about opportunities to grow and improve.
Describe racing at Derryfield Park:
I never had the opportunity to race at Derryfield. We ran our state meets at UNH all through high school (HS); 2.5 miles, then a 5K starting in 1976. The Manchester Invite had just started up when I was in HS, but it was a meet for the large/Division 1 schools. Timberlane back then was a Class I school, so we never ran at Derryfield. It does look like a fun course. My understanding of the course comes purely from watching kids race there for the past 35 years. I do like hilly courses though.
Describe both your most memorable and least memorable moments running cross country in high school:
Least memorable probably was running against Laconia HS on their home course. We drove up there for a mid-week meet. Course was basically on the roads. Barely made it into the top 10 for a dual meet, and I ended up being top 10 overall in the state that year. They were tough; a lesson in humility.
Most memorable was probably MOC in 1976. Dean and I ran against BJ Fowler from Laconia HS. First ever MOC, and it was now 5000 meters. Dean had the race plan, he dictated the pace and strategy. I slipped and fell on a muddy hairpin turn late in the race. He screamed at me to “get up.” We could finish together in those days, it wasn’t against the rules yet. “Run for Fun” was still in vogue. I ended up taking off in the last straightaway, and won the race. I don’t know if that was part of the race plan.
What was your favorite high school workout?
Never did workouts in HS for XC: we just ran. It would just be a question of how far people wanted to run that day. We just ran how we felt. Basically raced ourselves into shape. I just naturally ran a fartlek pretty much every run. It was just the natural way I ran. My wife (Tina) hates when I run with her and doesn’t understand how anyone can tolerate to run with me. Running is about going out for an hour+ conversation. When the conversation gets intense, the pace picks up. No one talks, the pace drops even more.
Describe the pressure (if any) you felt competing as one of NH’s top runner in high school:
Didn’t really feel any pressure. Pressure only comes from within. The only pressure a person can put on themselves is by listening to what other people say about them. A runner only needs to believe in the goals they want to achieve. It’s just another race.
A friend (Hank Pfiefle) once said racing was the easy part, training was the hard part.
Please state where you went to run in college and please describe how this decision was made…how was the experience?
I went to Boston University for college. I realized I needed a good degree for a good job, and I wanted to further my running. I went there for the Physical Therapy Program and to run for Bob Sevene. I knew I did not want to leave New England and Boston was the area where a lot of good distance runners were at the time. Sev was going to be the coach, as they were starting to put together a distance crew. Sev said, “You get him, I’ll coach there.” I said to BU, “You get him to coach, I’ll run there.” BU made it work.
Overall, it was a good experience. Tough to balance the PT major and D1 running program. It was interesting going from running mostly trails, to city terrain. I spent most of my weekends up at UNH to train with Dean and run trails/Bay Road.
Do you have any advice to share with present high school XC runners?
Have fun, enjoy the sport. Mostly likely this is a sport/activity that you will end up doing for the rest of your life. Find the joy in it. Training partners/teams/goals will change, but it is an activity that will be there for a lifetime. You don’t need a ‘team’ to keep you going, you just have to ask yourself, ‘where I am going today.’