Upper Arlington resident Jim Kinard is part of an exclusive group of runners who have participated in the Columbus Marathon for the past 29 years and will pound the pavement again for the 30th anniversary event on Sunday.
The Columbus Marathon began in 1980 with 2,500 participants. The event, now known as the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon, will attract an estimated 15,000 runners this year.
Kinard is hoping for good weather, which he's found to be a major factor in his performance each year.
"A hot day is terrible. You can't go very fast and you get really dehydrated and suffer," he said. "A cool day in the 50s is perfect.
"We had one day where it started out in the low 20s and didn't go out of the 20s the whole time," he said. "That's too cold. You can get hypothermia if you slow down."
Kinard finished the 2008 marathon in 4:09:54. While it's an impressive finish, he has topped that time in previous years.
"For some reason at the 25th, which was four marathons ago, I had a really good year," he said. "The temperature was perfect and I happened to be in really good shape and I ran 20 minutes faster than I had the previous year."
Never missing a marathon for three decades is an accomplishment in itself, said Scott Weaver, race director for the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon.
"Running a single marathon is impressive, and many people run the same marathon more than one time," said Weaver. "But to have the wherewithal, and let's face it, the good fortune, to be able to take part in our event every year is a huge accomplishment. We are proud of our veteran runners."
At 66, Kinard is in the middle of the pack, age-wise, among the nine other runners who have completed all 29 marathons. David Bryan of Anchorage, Alaska, is the youngest at 57.
The elder members of the group are Charles Kielkopf of Columbus and Jim Tinstman of Hilliard, both 74.
The other runners who plan to complete their 30th Columbus Marathon this year include: Richard Hickle, 59, Worthington; Steve Johnson, 59, Ashland; Mike Groseclose, 64, Westerville; Bob Koch, 64, Pickerington; Jim Haban, 67, Bexley; and Bill Mack, 67, Defiance.
Kinard said he and the other veterans usually get together on the day before the marathon.
"On Saturday morning, 9 o'clock, we meet at the Hyatt (Regency) in the food court and we all get our pancakes and sit around and reminisce," Kinard said. "It's really the one time of year that we really see each other."
An associate professor of accounting and management information systems at Ohio State's Fisher College of Business, Kinard runs short distances year-round and steps up his training regimen as the marathon approaches each year.
"A 50- or 60-mile week is the norm for a lot of people. My training weeks are 30-mile weeks. I'd rather not get hurt," he said. "Over-training can lead to injury. I'll suffer toward the end of the race for under-training, but I won't be over-trained and injured."
Kinard trains with a neighbor, Jack Fisher, a physician who joins Kinard on long Sunday runs.
"One week ago we ran 17 (miles)," Kinard said. "We ran from our homes, which are three doors apart, to the OSU Faculty Club, touched the door, and ran back."
Of Kinard's four adult children, only his daughter Cami, a 2009 Upper Arlington High School graduate, shares his interest in running.
"She's my training partner occasionally," said Kinard, who is also father to Tim, David and Kori.
While he is more active than many people younger than him, Kinard has watched his pace slow with age.
"In my 40s and into my mid-50s, I was at plateau in terms of pace and ability," he said. "At a certain point, you kind of fall off a cliff and every year you get slower and slower, and I've kind of seen that happen."
Kinard was able to boast, however, finishing fourth out of 17 people last year in the 65-69 age group. He has also qualified several times for the highly competitive Boston Marathon.
"It's a special experience because everybody there qualified," Kinard said. "There are no slow runners. The whole 26 miles, it's like a wave. In Columbus, people break apart and you could be running without a group of people for a time. In Boston, you can run in a wave of people the whole time. It's a special feeling."
For more information about the 30th anniversary Columbus Marathon, visit www.columbusmarathon.com.