Get Inspired: Kinzey Lynch Is Blind — But That Doesn’t Keep Him From Running Marathons

The Drexel student, who has been blind since birth, runs on Kelly Drive every weekend. This is Kinzey’s story in his own words.

Lynch and Philly Achilles guide Charlie Tomlinson  on the Schuylkill River Trail / Photograph by Adam Jones

Lynch and Philly Achilles guide Charlie Tomlinson
on the Schuylkill River Trail / Photograph by Adam Jones

If you’d told me when I was a little kid that I’d be doing marathons, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was born with microphthalmia, which limits my vision to light, shadows and colors.

Getting around University City and Drexel is always an adventure. I have orientation and mobility instructors who teach me to maneuver through obstacles in the city. I have to be in tune with when Market Street is going, if it’s a red light or a green light, if there’s a food cart in the way.

I started running in seventh grade. I just showed up to cross-country practice and went out and ran. They had no guide for me. I was left way back in the dust. I kept showing up, and eventually, in my junior year of high school, I found Philly Achilles. [Philly Achilles is a nonprofit group that pairs disabled athletes with guides.]

Back then, I would have to start in the back of the pack at races. I was told that my times couldn’t count because I was a liability and that having a guide was an unfair advantage. But the truth is, when I’m running, I’m the same as everyone else—even running with a guide. When I’m tired and at my lowest point, everyone else is probably also at their lowest point. Running is an equalizer.

Through Achilles, I went from doing three-to-six-mile runs to finishing a half marathon within three months of training. In January 2012, I ran my first half marathon, in Disney World, with Achilles. I did the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2013, and then the Chicago Marathon in October 2014.

My all-time favorite memory is crossing the finish line at the Philly Marathon, my first marathon. I was completely exhausted, but when you’re at the finish line, it seems like the whole city is out to see you run and to support you.

Running is like a microcosm of what life is like in the real world: You push through challenges and set new goals. When you cross the finish line at a race, you get a sense of pride. You can always continue to improve, and that’s how I try to live.

I was once a slow kid who could barely run a half mile. Now, what I hope to achieve through my running and through how I live my life is to show others that the only limits are the limits you place on yourself.

This article first appeared in the 2015 Be Well Philly print magazine. To get a free copy for yourself, go here.

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