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Professor celebrates 30th Marathon

Zach Tuggle / The Lantern

Jim Kinard has been running for 35 years. In that time, he has averaged 30 miles a week and completed 39 full marathons. 

Now 67, running is an integral part of Kinard’s life.

“It’s just like brushing my teeth,” he said. “I just do it.”

Kinard will be competing in the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon Sunday, marking not only his 40th marathon overall but also his 30th Columbus marathon. He is one of 10 people who has run in every Columbus marathon since it began in 1979. 

Kinard, a professor of accounting at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, started running in 1974, shortly after he began teaching at OSU.

During his lunch break, he used to play handball.

“One day, we couldn’t get a court and hardly anyone was playing,” he said. “There were some people, other staff, that used to go running at noon, so I decided to try it out.”

At first it was a struggle, Kinard said, and he could only manage short distances.

“You start out with half a mile and wanna quit,” he said. “But after a while, that urge to quit goes away.”

Kinard continued running with the group of staff members, which became the unofficial “OSU Running Club” every day at noon. He slowly worked up to three miles a day, and after a year, he had worked up to a distance of eight miles at a time.

“It’s about getting over the hump,” he said. “You become a runner over time.”

Running gained popularity in the late 1970s, a time which Kinard referred to as the “running craze.” 

“When I first started, they didn’t even have shoes for running like they do now,” he said.

As an increased number of races began in the area, Kinard started competing, either alone or with other members of the OSU group. 

“I began to run more actively, and ran in some shorter races,” Kinard said.

As the craze continued, runners in his informal training group began “hyping up” marathons — 26.2-mile tests of endurance — and Kinard signed up for the first Columbus marathon.

“We would run in it together,” he said. “One year there was 18 of us running in the marathon.”

Kinard ran with the same group for 20 years, but it has since disbanded.
“I’m the only survivor,” he said.

Kinard still runs at noon either outside or on the indoor track at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center, depending on the weather — but “never on the treadmill.” 

He tries to run between five and six times a week, usually taking off Saturdays so he can run longer distances on Sundays.

“I enjoy daily runs. I usually stick to around 30 miles a week,” he said. “About six weeks before the marathon, I run longer on Sundays and bump up the mileage.”

In addition to his 29 Columbus marathons, Kinard has run the Boston Marathon eight times and the Louisville Marathon twice.

The half-marathon, a 13.1-mile race, has become an increasingly popular option, but Kinard has never been tempted to run the shorter distance.

“The marathon is a whole different story,” he said. “I have to keep running the whole thing.”
Kinard said he hopes to finish within four hours, averaging about a nine-minute mile.

“I always have a goal to do well,” he said. “It’s taken me longer as I’ve aged, of course.”

But Kinard also has another goal — he wants to finish first out of the nine others running their 30th Columbus marathon, which he has done the past five years.

Kinard’s father, who is 93, and his stepmother, will be coming from Texas to celebrate with Kinard on Sunday.

 “We’ll go out to dinner, probably to the Blackwell,” he said. “It’s kind of a tradition.”

Two of his children who still in live in the Columbus area are also supportive, Kinard said, and will come cheer him on. 

“I get psyched up for it every year,” he said. “But it is kind of painful, especially the last half. When it’s over, it is wonderful.”

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