SDSU’s 6k record holder, Jessica Kain, comes from a family of endurance and success

Jessica Kain who broke the school record in a 6k race late September, comes from a family of national and world champion athletes

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SDSU Athletics

Jessica Kain (55) runs during the Anteater Invitational (Courtesy of SDSU Athletics)

by Daniela Ramirez, Senior Staff Writer

Senior Jessica Kain is part of San Diego State’s women’s cross country and track team. Kain comes from a family of professional athletes. Her parents were both triathlon athletes, graduating from UC Santa Barbara and later competing in Olympic trials for distance triathlons. 

Kain was born in Santa Cruz, a small knit coastal community south of the Bay Area. It is also known as a running community with some great runners known to come out of the area. The beautiful and natural terrain of Santa Cruz’s many trails was the perfect place for Kain to enjoy her long distance runs. 

Thanks to the lengthy running careers of her parents, Kain grew up more athletic than most. When Kain was only 3 years old, she competed in her first triathlon. Later in her adolescence she began pursuing soccer and track. 

“I knew I was bound to be an athlete,” Kain said. 

Around the time middle school started, Kain began to take running more seriously. Yet it wasn’t until freshman year of high school, when she developed a stress fracture in her leg, where Kain had to make a decision regarding her future.

The decision to continue playing soccer or compete as a runner was a difficult decision but deep down, Kain knew running was her calling. Since her parents ran all throughout her childhood, the idea of becoming a runner wasn’t a new subject for Kain. 

“Both of my parents are my biggest influence,” Kain said. 

Kain’s father, Pete Kain, won four world championships and her mother, Shari Kain, is in the Hall of Fame for the X-Terra (which is a certain mountain bike used in triathlons). She also competed in the women’s Tour De France. Both of her parents now own their own triathlon teams and train professional athletes. 

Kain’s brother, Jeremy, is currently a freshman at Duke University competing in cross country and track. He holds the world record as the fastest 12-year-old miler. His time was 4 minutes and 36 seconds. 

On Sept. 17, Kain became the fastest 6k runner in SDSU history. In the race that consists of four miles, her time was 20:46.7, about five minutes for each mile. The previous record was set in 2017 by Christine Kent who ran 20:47.8 at the UC Riverside Invitational.

Kain is eager to keep going and achieve her goals. She is very goal-oriented and preaches on her visualizations techniques to help her stay focused before every race. 

“I want to break (the record) again,” Kain said. “I am my own competition.”

Kain wants to keep breaking her own record and continue to test her limits. It pushes her every day to keep going, even when the 20-30 hours a week she spends with the sport seems impossible. 

Beyond the trails and the track, She plans on turning her love for running into a job like her parents have done. Visualization and the mindset of a runner is one of her main factors to a great race. 

“(Cross country) is so mentally tough,” Kain said. 

Kain plans on working with athletes on breaking their mental barriers by writing a book or creating an app. Kain reads many books on visualization techniques, she also majors in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis on communication, hospitality and stability. 

Kain also has a passion for helping the environment and people that are not athletes. Kain’s track team has talked about doing events in the near future to help the San Diego community. She says the city has become her new home and wants to help the homeless. 

She wants to go to shelters and the streets to provide essential items, especially during the holiday season. 

“Giving back to my community is what I take with me from living in Santa Cruz,” Kain said. 

Kain’s running career will continue after her time here at SDSU, her goal is to run professionally, competing in the 2024 Olympics for the 1500 meter race. 

Title IX has given women many opportunities to showcase their talents for all to see. Kain says she is proud and wants to show younger runners they can be strong athletes but that doesn’t mean giving up everything. 

“I’m a strong woman,” Kain said. “I’m not just a runner, it’s not what you do that defines you, but who you are.” 

Kain plans to run for the rest of her life even after her competitive career is over. 

“Once a runner, always a runner,” Kain said. 

Kain was the All-Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Team in 2021, as well as the Mountain West Cross Country Athlete of the Week in September. 

Last season Kain finished 11th in the Mountain West Outdoor Championships in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds. She placed 25th overall in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA West Outdoor Preliminary Rounds.