The first time I heard of Kenny Wall was last year at the Warrior Dash, where I overheard “Hey, that’s Kenny Wall, what’s he doing here?! He could hurt himself fooling around!” I thought he must be pretty important if the gentleman behind me was concerned about a clearly fit runner before the start of a 3.2 mile obstacle race. Not to worry, though, as Kenny completed it in 22:32, placing third overall. I don’t think he was fooling around much.
Kenny has earned the concern of strangers after having been an outstanding runner locally at Flushing High School and during four years at Oakland University. Kenny’s focus during his senior year at OU was to break the 15 min barrier for the 5k. During his final cross country season he finished first on the team in four races and reached his main goal for the year, posting indoor season bests in the 5K at 14:53.49 and 10K 31:17.06. A bit of a local celebrity in Flushing, he has also enjoyed great success in Genesee County races, finishing his fastest Crim in 2006 with a blistering 1:00.06. This summer Kenny dominated the always steamy Flushing Evening 5K with a time of 16:19.
Going forward, Kenny intends to focus on training for marathons. For guidance he will follow the legendary running coach Dr. Jack Daniels’ distance plan. Adhering to the plan has Kenny currently averaging 55-65 miles per week. This summer his mileage will max at 80, even including doing two-a-days. Although his focus is on the marathon, Kenny’s mileage will still allow for some shorter races, and he already ran the Qualifier Half Marathon in May averaging 5:48 per mile. Just the other day he ripped off the Bastille Day 15K at an even faster pace, finishing first overall at a 5:26 pace. As hard to believe as it may be, Kenny may be getting faster! Only time will tell if he can maintain that pace for 26, but he’s certainly shown no signs of slowing thus far.
Interestingly for a runner who is now so accomplished, Kenny first saw running as nothing more than a way to condition himself for another sport. At the suggestions of his parents, both runners, he joined cross country only to improve his fitness for 7th grade basketball. He quickly began to enjoy running and drifted to indoor track, mostly leaving hoops behind, although he still enjoys a good game with friends.
I asked Kenny what piece of advice he might have for runners aspiring to train and compete at his level. He said to remember why you enjoy running and latch onto whatever motivates you do push yourself. He also stressed that consistency in training is of great importance, and he is living proof. In spite of his grueling training schedule, Kenny has been blessed with few injuries. Perhaps if we all keep these things in mind we’ll be lucky enough to catch up to him on the Crim 10-mile course this year, but I expect the only place many of us will see him is as he pulls away in the first mile!
About the Author: Jeannie Zuck is a lifelong Flushing resident, mother and caregiver who loves running, baking and her family (the order is subject to change on any given day).