Tim Bassing started running in 1998 for his health and has been an example for many people, including his daughter, Leah Bassing Myers. Father and daughter recently ran a marathon in Nevada.
Mr. Bassing is a teacher in the Manila School District and is a minister serving the Black Oak Church of Christ.
Leah and her husband, Jeremy, have a daughter, Sarah, 3, and live in Cave Springs. Leah is an accountant for the Walton family.
"Every person who has run a marathon knows there are three stages before crossing the finish line," Mr. Bassing said. "The first stage is to believe it is possible to run 26.2 miles. Stage 2 is the actual training. The final stage is when you find yourself in a crowd of runners, you hear a starting gun, and you take the first step in a 26.2 mile journey."
Mr. Bassing said the reasons for running a marathon are as varied as the people running.
"I'm not sure when the first stage began for Leah, but I know she began to believe she could complete a marathon because she started calling me for advice on how to get started," he said.
She found a training schedule, visited the local running store, bought shoes, and began running.
So began Stage 2. Leah ran. She ran at the gym. She ran outside. She ran in the heat and the cold. She ran in the rain and the sunshine. She ran when people encouraged her and she ran when some said she was silly. In her six months training she ran over 527 miles.
"Somewhere in Stage 2, my phone rang," Mr. Bassing said. "Leah asked if I would run with her in her first marathon. What an honor for me. We chose the Red Rock Canyon Marathon in Las Vegas. Runner's World Magazine said this marathon is one of the most beautiful runs in America.
The night before Stage 3 my daughter handed me a letter she had written to me. She wrote, "This race is much more than just a 26.2 mile race for me. This race represents all the hard work, sweat, and self-doubt that is behind me. It is proving that I can set my mind to do something and not waver from that goal. I am glad that you will be with me."
Father and daughter headed to Red Rock Canyon at 4:30 a.m. They began Stage 3 as the gun went off.
"First, we ran five miles uphill then eight miles downhill; so far so good," Mr. Bassing said. "Next, we turned around to begin our eight miles uphill. At mile 14, Leah's legs started getting tired. I asked if she was okay. Tears started to well up in her eyes and with a quivering lip she said she was fine.
Several times after that I reminded her she would make it to the finish. When we were a mile from the finish line, I told Leah to find her daughter, Sarah, and carry her across the finish line with us. Three people crossed the finish line that day. Then we all hugged and the two of us cried tears of relief and joy.
Jeremy and Tim's wife, Cheryl, were waiting to congratulate them at the finish line.
One of Leah's reasons for starting to run was to lose weight and be healthier. During her training, she lost almost 40 pounds and said she feels much better. She wrote to her mother and shared one of life's lessons she discovered during her marathon experience. The lesson is: Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress...no matter how slow.
"I have always been proud of Leah," Mr. Bassing said. "Once again she has made me proud with what she did. Leah has always been a wonderful mom but now has even more optimism."
The Red Rock Marathon was their first to run together but it probably will not be the last one they share. Leah is calling her dad about their next race.
"If you don't think running a marathon will make you a better person, try it, you'll see," Mr. Bassing said.