TSR Runner of the Week-Jimmy Cunningham

By: Kayla Dodd

I am pleased to introduce you to TSR runner of the Week, Jimmy Cunningham! He has been on his running journey for many years! “Too long”, he says!! He has been running since 1985, since he was a in Junior HS at Andrew Jackson Junior High in Cross Lanes, WV. He first started running in 9th grade, 31 years ago, although he did take a 9 year break after college due to burn out and injuries. While Jimmy does not know his first race he remembers the Baskin Robbins 5K in 1988, “ I got up and ran it on Saturday morning, placed 3rd out of around 900 runners then cleaned up to go to my high school graduation.”

Jimmy has several awesome PR’S! His current 5k PR is 14:53, Half Marathon at 1:23.46, the Mile at 4:17, and the 800 meter at 1:56. He has ran in one marathon, which he did earlier this year in NYC, at the age of 46….the NYC Marathon!!!!! “I was on pace for 3:19 through mile 17 until a hamstring injury slowed me to a 3:51.” He also ran for Nitro High School from 1986-1988 and for Marshall University from 1988-1993.

His current running goals consist of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and to get his 5k time back under 18 minutes. “Other running goals are being able to stay competitive as long as possible and continue to at least win my age group in my races!” Jimmy also wants to continue to inspire young runners and help teach them!

When asked what motivates him to run, “I coach Hurricane Middle School Track and Cross Country. I hope to inspire and motivate the runners I coach. They motivate me and make me want to run better. Also I want them to see that I practice what I’m coaching. I think that is important for the young runners to see.”

The coolest running experience for Jimmy has been running the NYC Marathon this year. “It was a neat and memorable experience: 2 million spectators with the average block in NY lined with 7,500 fans. The signs, fans and bands along the way were very cool. The site of everything is beyond what I can describe in words. Definitely the best experience of my running career. I also had Tiki Barber, NY Giants, and Theo Rossi (Juice) from Sons of Anarchy in my starting corral. Now that was pretty cool!”

Future races that he is currently competing in/upcoming are the Charleston Winter Series races, the WV 5K Championship in Huntington and the Charleston Distance Run 15 miler next September. “I’m looking ahead to in the future. Also looking to possibly run the Columbus Children’s Hospital Marathon or St Jude’s Children’s Hospital Marathon as well.”

His dream race would be the Boston Marathon, “although in college I would have said Steve Prefontaine Classic, Oregon.”

His favorite running/motivational quote is, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” He also has this quote tattooed on his arm as a reminder, for when he is running or in a race. His best experience from running are the friends that he has made. “I consider them family and the relationships I have built are great. The running community is the best!”

His favorite brand of running shoes are Hoka brand, followed closely by Asics. His favorite piece of running gear is his Garmin GPS watch.

When asked what advice he would give to a beginner runner he said, “start slow and be patient. Running is a process, don’t get discouraged and listen to your body. There is no giant step that does it, it’s the process of all the little steps.”

“As I tell my runners I coach, running teaches you life lessons. Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it. It has made me who I am today. I consider myself super competitive and always wanting to be better than I was yesterday and this has allowed me to be not only successful in running, but life as well. One of biggest benefits is the friends I have made, the relationships I have built, and hopefully the lives I have helped influence.” Running has been instrumental in Jimmy’s life and while the friends and community have had an impact on him and his running journey, he has also made an impact on those surrounding him. Congrats to Jimmy on all of his running goals, TSR will see you at the finish line! 

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