Despite an injury, Kinley exceeds goal for Austin Smith Inclusive Playground

On his first day of his 333-mile run, Anthony Kinley ran through Hancock, Iowa, and took his photo. The saying, “Do not burn!” is fitting for his grueling run across Iowa. (Photos submitted)

Hoping to raise $5,000 for the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground, Kinley ended up raising over $10,000. His crew stood by his side, even when he had to end early due to an injury, including his father-in-law, Mark Ballou.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     In early December, Anthony Kinley, formerly of Monticello, announced his plans to run 333 miles across the State of Iowa to raise money for the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground Project.

     His goal was to raise $5,000; he was pleasantly surprised when he ended up raising over $10,000 thanks to generous people he knows and the strangers he met along the way.

     “It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “It’s neat that people were willing to support our cause and support me. It’s a humbling feeling.”

     Kinley, now of Des Moines, started out his first day on March 5 running 55 miles from Council Bluffs to Atlantic in south central Iowa. It was that day that a nasty spring storm system came through that portion of the state, spurring tornados.

     Kinley started his venture running in a t-shirt in 60-degree weather. At mile-20, he experienced rain. By mile-30, that’s when the wind started to pick up.

     “It got increasingly dark and started to hail early in the afternoon,” recalled Kinley.

     His crew, which consisted of a college friend, a high school friend (Ben Ahlrichs), his father-in-law (Mark Ballou), picked him up and head to a safe location to ride out the storm.

     “We drove 2 miles west to avoid it,” said Kinley. “We were never in extreme danger; we were on the edge of it.”

     Kinley said they knew of the impending storm when a firefighter warned them as he was storm watching along Kinley’s route.

     Sunday, March 6, Kinley ran 30 of his intended 50 miles, Atlantic to Earlham.

     “It was cold and hard to warm up that morning,” he said. “I was in excruciating pain.”

     That pain stemmed from a pulled ligament in Kinley’s right knee.

     After his first day out, he knew it was going to be a long run, hoping to get in 50-plus miles.

     “I should have stopped at 40 miles,” he admitted, but he pushed through.

     Despite wrapping his knee, the pain was too much to go on and complete a seven-leg journey.

     Hoping to then hit 50 miles on Day 2, Kinley made it to 30. On Day 3, he picked up where he left off, adding another 20 miles onto this daily grind. Add to this, a snowstorm also blanketed the state on March 7.

     “I experienced every season in three days,” joked Kinley of a tornado, cool weather, and snow.

     Unfortunately, he was also delayed due to road conditions and couldn’t start his run until close to 10 a.m.

     “The roads were really bad,” he said.

     After just under 12 miles, Kinley made the tough decision to postpone the rest of his run due to the pain he was experiencing. His crew offered him their full support.

     “Those last miles of Day 3, I strained it and walked a lot. I couldn’t stand the pressure.”

     He said even Day 2 was an uphill battle.

     Kinley was honest and said he should have taken more short breaks and stops along the way those first two days.

     On March 8, Kinley posted an update to his Instagram page:

     “Unfortunately, my crew and I decided to end the run yesterday. I covered 95 miles over three days, but unfortunately the last 35 to 40 miles were grueling and extra painful after an injury from the first day. At some points, it felt like I was dragging my right leg just to move forward. I still need to fully reflect on these last couple of days and months. I failed at one of my personal goals, but that’s part of being human. I’m extremely grateful for everyone’s support, especially my crew, family, and friends. I still have 238 miles to complete and I promise I will get that done!”

     Kinley shared that making the decision to stop was actually a relief.

     “I was pretty upset and frustrated that I couldn’t keep going. But those 12 miles took me a while. But I knew whatever decision I made, I had people by my side, which meant a lot to me.”

     Reflecting on how prepared he was for this journey, Kinley said he was well trained.

     “I had no time commitments,” he said of pushing himself more than he perhaps should have. “I let the excitement get the best of me and my ego got in the way.”

     Kinley stayed hydrated and had had snacks on him to have during his run. His crew established stopping points along the way to make sure he was doing OK.

     Kinley said he met some amazing people along the way. On Day Two, with his knee bothering him, he stopped for a bit and laid down in a ditch with his legs elevated along the bank. A woman, named Susan, drove by on her way to church. She asked what he was doing, if he was OK, and heard about Kinley’s mission to raise money for the Inclusive Playground. She ended up missing church, but prayed for Kinley, and gave him all the cash she had on her, $29.

     “When I lying in that ditch, multiple cars drove by,” Kinley said. “Susan was the only one who stopped. That’s a good reason why I was doing this. It was meant to be.”

     On March 14, the Austin Smith Playground Facebook page expressed their thanks to Kinley: “While it may not be what he was anticipating, he’s still a superhero to us! Thank you, Anthony, for your inspiring efforts already, and what you will continue to do…when you are healthy and ready.”

     Kinley said there were various reasons for this adventure. He raised $10,000 for the playground project. But he also wanted to challenge himself “in a painful way.

     “I wanted to experience pain and push through it,” he added. “I helped spread awareness about the playground, and ignited something in someone (referring to Susan). This whole thing was bigger than me; I learned a ton.”

     Kinley said he also learned that “mood follows action” and “action guides your mood.”

     You can still donate to Kinley’s fundraiser by visiting


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