Blind runner takes on Disney Half Marathon

Kinzey Lynch does not let his lack of sight stop him.
Kinzey Lynch does not let his lack of sight stop him.
Posted: January 14, 2013

For three years, Kinzey Lynch has been a key member of the Perkiomen Valley High School cross-country team. He's run through the woods, over trails, and on courses that intersect busy streets with a personal record of 22 minutes, 48 seconds.

This might not seem too extraordinary for a cross-country runner, except that Lynch, 17, is legally blind. He was born with two conditions that combined to severely limit vision in his left eye, and leave him seeing just colors and distances from his right.

On Saturday, he upped the running ante by completing the Disney Half Marathon in Orlando in one hour, 45 minutes, and 48 seconds.

He started running track in eighth grade as an alternative to wrestling.

"I was looking for a new hobby and a way I could socialize with my sighted peers," he said from his home in Collegeville, a few days before flying to Orlando. "I stumbled upon spring track. I kept showing up to the practices and eventually they had to let me run."

There, he ran the 800 meters and the mile. When he moved up to high school, he opted for cross-country. Because of his limited vision, he runs with a guide - a substitute teacher at the school.

He ran with a guide on Saturday, although this time with Melissa Wilcox, president of the Philadelphia chapter of Achilles International, a nonprofit that provides support for athletes with disabilities.

"It's amazing how for being just 17 years old, he's so mature and can interact so easily with a group of old folks like us," she said of Lynch, the only high school athlete in their group.

Even when they've been nearly run over by cyclists or even taunted by other athletes on busy Kelly Drive, where the group works out, she says, he keeps his cool. "Kinzey alone has inspired some of our volunteers to keep coming back because he is so much fun to run with," she said.

She heard about Achilles through work - Cigna is a sponsor of the group, and she is a project manager at the health insurance company. She set up the Philadelphia chapter in 2012 after working with the New York chapter to guide a runner in the same Disney race last year. Through Achilles, Cigna is sponsoring six athletes in the race - two from Philadelphia, including Lynch, who heard about the group through one of his cornea specialists.

The Disney Half Marathon was the longest race of Lynch's career. He had hoped to run the 13.1 miles in under 1 hour and 40 minutes, but finished nearly 6 minutes off his target.

Still, the teenager remains determined to keep at it: He's thinking about running track in the spring.

"This year I'm still in shape from cross-country. Usually by this time I've turned into a bit of a couch potato," he said with a laugh. "But this year not so much."

Running Calendar

Sunday: Ryan Strong 5K. A 5K run and a 5K walk, Fairless Hills. Registration closes 11:59 p.m. Jan. 11 at

Sunday: Icicle Ten Miler. A 10-mile run, Wilmington. Register on site or at

Sunday: Polar Bear 8 miler, Newtown, Pa. 9:30 a.m. Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series website: Race 6 of 11 race Winter Series.

Every Sunday through Feb. 24: Browning Ross Winter Series, Glassboro 5K. Register day of race only. For information, go to:

To add your race,e-mail

comments powered by Disqus