Every year the Quad-City Times Bix 7 seems to produce amazing, inspirational stories.
Through the years, we’ve had a woman who lost her leg in an accident at Maquoketa Caves State Park do the race on crutches. We had a man die in a car accident en route to the race and his family walked the course in his place carrying his race bib. We’ve had blind people walk the course. We had a man lose 150 pounds over the course of a year just so he could do the Bix 7.
This one isn’t quite as astonishing, but it’s still pretty darn inspirational.
Dr. Jeff Bassman didn’t lose a leg or his eyesight or a loved one, but last fall he lost his ability to run and wasn’t entirely sure he was going to get it back.
On Saturday, the man who oversees the recruitment of volunteers for the race made his way through the seven-mile course for the 39th time.
"If nothing else, I hope this is an example to people that you never know what you can do if you really want to do something," Bassman said.
The 65-year-old Bassman, who has been the Bix 7 volunteer chairman since 1980, was seriously injured while running last October.
He was loping down a hill near Luther Towers in northwest Davenport and had to stop very quickly to avoid a car. The awkward abruptness of the stop tore the quad muscles and tendons in both his legs and he crashed to the pavement. He had to crawl to the side of the road before being assisted by a passing motorist.
He underwent surgery on both legs two weeks apart, was confined to bed for six weeks and underwent months of grueling physical therapy.
"I had a lot of friends who said 'You’re never going to run again,'" Bassman said.
He wasn’t willing to listen to that. In fact, it only motivated him to get back in time to do this year’s Bix 7.
"Running is my DNA," he explained. "I have to do it."
The mental aspect of his recovery may have been the toughest thing. Bassman is one of those people who likes to do everything himself. He’s not accustomed to relying on others to take care of him.
He eventually graduated from a wheelchair to a cane to walking to doing a little bit of running around the track at North High School.
When he told his doctor, Dr. Tuvi Mendel, and his physical therapist, Kevin Swanson, that he was intent on running the Bix, they had reservations. They warned him to be careful.
Bassman only ran on the uphill portions of the course and walked somewhat gingerly on the steep downhills. He made it through the seven miles in an hour, 43 minutes, 57 seconds, which actually was not much longer than it took him last year but more than twice as long as his best times when he first began doing the race.
But he got through it and probably was never more satisfied — and relieved — to cross the finish line.
"As I was running, I heard someone yell out my name and I turned and it was my therapist, Kevin," Bassman said. "I yelled back 'Thanks for getting me here.'"