Athlete of the Week: MB’s Kinsey beats flu, marathon

Rarely does the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week Award come down to the wire like this one, and that’s not the only racing-related analogy about this week’s winner.

Distance runner Jonathan Kinsey and Myrtle Beach High basketball player E.J. Goings, who also happens to be a sprinter for the Seahawks, battled right down to the midnight finish line. When the dust settled, Kinsey garnered 14,341 votes to Goings’ 13,630 – proving that winning a Mammy is a marathon and not a sprint.

Not only did it not look like Kinsey would win the Mammy earlier in the week when he trailed by more than 3,000 votes, he couldn’t imagine winning the award when he woke up in the pre-dawn hours to run the Feb. 18th Myrtle Beach Marathon. Kinsey, who had been battling the flu all week, had a 101-degree temperature and felt like hitting the permanent snooze button.

“I thought about it, but I had already registered for the race and I couldn’t step down from the challenge,” recalled Kinsey, a 27-year-old Coastal Carolina University student majoring in elementary education. “It was the worst I had ever felt before a race, but I just decided to tough it out and do my best.”

It wasn’t long before Kinsey was rethinking his decision, but once he started he wasn’t going to stop. “About Mile 5, I could tell it wasn’t going to be good,” he said. “My legs got heavy and I started feeling bad, but I was already in it and I’m not a quitter. I just kept pushing forward.”

Somehow Kinsey found himself in contention for not only a personal-best finish, but also a top-five showing, but it still didn’t seem like his day. On Mile 22 he dropped a packet of power gel, his last bit of fuel to get him to the finish, but he knew if he stopped to pick it up he might not get going again.

“When you’re running a marathon you want everything to go perfect, then that happened,” he recalled. “I could tell my blood sugar was running low and I needed it, but at the time I was running with a guy for fourth and I knew if lost him it would be tough. I just kept going and at the next water station someone threw me another packet.”

With enough juice to go the 26.2-mile distance, Kinsey crossed the finish line in fifth place at a personal-best time of 2 hours, 41 minutes, 17 seconds – two minutes better than his previous record. Not bad for someone who should have spent the day in bed, but that’s not his style.

Kinsey also enjoys surfing and cycling, but it’s the challenge of running that has drawn the Myrtle Beach resident to the sport since he was 13. Following in his footsteps of his father, who also was a distance runner, Kinsey has traveled a good portion of the Eastern United States to run in everything from 5Ks to marathons. He hopes to take it even farther in the future.

“I would love to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, but I have a long way to go and I’m getting up there in age,” said Kinsey, who would need to shave about 20 minutes off his time to meet the current Olympic standard. “But whether I make it or not, I will always run. It’s what I love to do.”

Photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography

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