Kinley plans to run across Iowa for Austin Smith Inclusive Playground

In April, Anthony Kinley did the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run at the Grand Canyon. A running enthusiast, Kinley plans to run across Iowa in March to raise money for the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground in Monticello. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     “I wanted to do something bigger than me; to create change through action.”

     Anthony Kinley, formerly of Monticello, now of Des Moines, plans to run over 350 miles this coming spring across the State of Iowa in an effort to raise money for the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground Project in Monticello.

     Kinley’s mother-in-law, Jennifer Ballou, is a member of the Austin Strong Foundation, which raises money in memory of Austin Smith who passed away at the age of 6 from DIPG (childhood cancer).

     “I knew Austin and his family through Haley (Ballou, his wife) and her family,” Kinley said. “I met the Smiths during Austin’s fight with cancer.”

     Kinley said it was sad seeing a child of that age battling cancer, not getting to do the things other kids were doing.

     No stranger to running, Kinley got the idea to run across Iowa while trying to raise money for the playground project.

     “At first, it was just a thought,” he said. “Then I finally pulled the trigger.”

     It wasn’t until Kinley was home at Thanksgiving, when he saw the sign at the site of the playground by the Aquatic Center that he chose to go all in.

     In March 2022, Kinley will run roughly 50 miles a day from Council Bluffs and the Missouri River to Dubuque and the Mississippi River. He expects to be on the run for seven days. He mapped his route out via “On The Go Map” to get an idea of just how many miles he would need to cover each day to accomplish his goal.

     “I’ll come through Monticello at the end of Day 6,” he shared, “and finish in Dubuque on Day 7.”

     Kinley’s route takes him through central Iowa, a total of 356 miles.

     Kinley ran track and cross country in high school. He’s taken part in many races from 5Ks to half marathons and road races. In April 2018, he ran the Boston Marathon. He’s also done races in the Twin Cities and Des Moines.

     “I’ve done a handful of marathons,” he said.

     Just this April, Kinley did the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, which was almost 50 miles.

     “That was an adventure and tested my limits,” he said of the elevation changes.

     His run across Iowa will be Kinley’s biggest event to date.

     While he hasn’t changed his training regiment, he has increased how many miles he’s running every week from 70 to 80 to 115 and 120 miles.

     “I am not sure what I will encounter in the next few months while training, or even after I start the run,” he said. “For now, I’m focusing my training on what I can do each day in order to build a stronger physical and mental base before I set out to tackle this giant task.”

     Kinley is motivated by the fact that he’s trying to raise $5,000 for the playground project, supporting the Foundation.

     “I want to give back to my community,” offered Kinley. “And I have a great gift I can use to do that.”

     He said knowing the Austin Smith Playground will be inclusive and used by children of all ages and abilities is a positive message.

     “The ability to play is something all children should have the right to enjoy,” he stated. “Austin was going through more than I could ever imagine. He needed help with many simple things during his treatment that any other child would not think about, like using his own playground set in his backyard. One day while playing with him (Austin) on the playground, I noticed how he was still a kid at heart and wanted nothing more than to be able to go down the slide again and again. The pure joy he got from the simplest acts of life has stuck with me ever since then.”

     In addition to his mileage training, Kinley also plans to accomplish this run on a plant-based, vegan diet, meaning no animal products.

     “That’s rare,” he said. “But it’s doable and I’ll still have the energy.”

     Kinley said his carbohydrate in-take in the key.

     “My goal is to eat 65 to 70 percent in carbs, 15 to 20 percent in fat, and 10 to 15 percent protein,” explained Kinley. “It’s a whole-food diet, a sustainable lifestyle.”

     Kinley maintains this lifestyle for health reasons.

     “I’m passionate about it. It’s become more acceptable. I feel stronger in general.”

     To donate to Kinley’s fundraiser for the Austin Smith Inclusive Playground, visit or his GoFundMe page at


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