LEACHVILLE Runners don't start out running marathons (26.2 miles). It takes training and the will to finish according to Buffalo Island Central elementary teacher Tim Bassing.
Bassing runs for the enjoyment of it. He ran long before he ran his first marathon in 1999.
Bassing teaches fourth through sixth grade science at Buffalo Island Central East Elementary. He has been in the teaching profession for 11 years. He also is the minister of Black Oak Church of Christ where he has served for the last 10 years. He was formerly minister at the Leachville Church of Christ for nine years.
"Running is a hobby. It is good for your health, but it is more than that," Bassing said. "When I am running, I solve problems in my mind, I plan sermons, I pray, I sometimes listen to the radio and catch up on the news, and it is a good way to get rid of stress. I don't see how people get rid of the stress that we live under without an outlet."
Bassing made a decision that he wanted to run in the New York Marathon in 1997 and trained for almost a year and a half before he fulfilled that goal.
He admits that when he started running, he weighed 210 pounds and was out of breath from one telephone pole to the next and would have to take a break.
"You don't start out long distance, you start slow, conditioning yourself for more. If you get to where you can run three miles without stopping, you can run a marathon," Bassing said, "If I can do it, I know anyone can."
After a year and a half training, he was ready for his first marathon, The New York Marathon, in 1999. It will always be in his memory as one of life's great experiences.
"With approximately 32,000 people going across the bridge and probably 500,000 cheering you on, it was something. We ran through places that I probably would never have seen if not for the marathon. Seeing the Statue of Liberty and other sights was great," Bassing said. "The Killer Hill was upward for two miles and as we got into Central Park it was uphill at first. I had not been used to running uphill, but I made it. The last mile and a half was downhill, so that was easier."
He completed the New York Marathon in four hours and 35 minutes. He said at the end of each of his runs he recalls coming across that finish line as he turns into his drive. He recalls one spectator toward the end of the marathon encouraging him and telling him "don't quit."
Since the first run, Bassing tries to plan two marathons a year and has run a total of seven marathons at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Nashville, Tenn., and New York, and ran a half marathon at Wynne.
Someday he would like to go back to New York. Also, he has always wanted to run in the Boston Marathon but as of yet has not qualified.
"Not qualifying for the Boston Marathon doesn't disappoint me, I will just keep on trying," Bassing said. "I almost qualified at Kiawah. I was running the eight minute mile until the 19th mile. When I crossed the finish line, I had used up all of my energy."
His best has been four hours and 13 minutes. He has always finished the races, and on average finishes about in the middle coming in the 50 percent overall and top 30 percent of his age group.
Bassing encourages anyone that is interested to start running. He calls it an inexpensive hobby.
"We plan the trips ahead of time. The people you meet are really great, the runners, the sponsors, the spectators, it is all a good experience," he said.
He urges anyone that wants to start to make sure they have the right shoes. That is most important. One of the main reasons for people to start running and not finish is their feet.
"Different feet need different shoes," Bassing said. "You cannot finish if your feet hurt."
Bassing said he had to try three different shoes before he got the right ones. He belongs to Runner's World. They have a system that allows runners to try shoes for 60 days. If the shoes are not right, they can be returned for a different pair.
"You can put about 300 miles on a pair of shoes. They still look fine but they don't have the spring needed," Bassing said.
Bassing's high mileage shoes get passed down to his sons. Bassing has two sons and a daughter, Matthew, 24, Mark, 22, and Leah, 20. His wife, Cherryl, is a teacher at the Manila Elementary School. Mrs. Bassing also enjoys the marathons and has competed in the walking division of the half marathons.
Bassing would be glad to share information and books that have been helpful to him to anyone interested in starting to run. He said there is also a good program with coaches on the Internet.
Bassing runs approximately 30 miles a week but said after a marathon he enjoys slacking off a little and relaxing for about a month.
"We see people 85 years old and running in marathons," Bassing said. "I had an 85 year old lady beat me at South Carolina the first time I ran there, but the next year I was determined that I would not let that happen again."
There is no better day to start training to run than today, he said.