For many, the fact that this year’s Quad-City Times Bix 7 is being done on a virtual basis is a downer.
People look forward to being part of that mass of bodies that churns up the Brady Street hill in the early morning hours on the last Saturday in July. They love meandering through the streets of some of Davenport’s older neighborhoods, crossing the finish line and then mingling with the masses in the Times’ parking lot.
They’re not going to get to do that this year.
But for others, the virtual race has become an opportunity. It has opened the door for people who might not otherwise be able to do the Bix 7.
You can count Dave Juehring, the husband of Bix 7 race director Michelle Juehring, in that group.
Dave, once one of the best, most diverse athletes in the area, suffers from stenosis in his back that makes it impossible for him to walk on his toes.
Running or walking seven miles just isn’t possible for him anymore.
But he can walk one mile. So he is doing his virtual Bix 7 one mile at a time on seven different occasions.
"If you were to ask me to walk seven miles, I would say ‘No, I’m not doing that,’" he said. "But if you give me the opportunity to walk a mile seven times, yeah, I’m in."
Michelle reminded him that he could do the Quick Bix, the two-mile alternative that many walkers and less-fit runners do.
"I said ‘No, I want to do the Bix,’" he said. "If I can do it in one-mile increments, I’m doing the Bix."
Michelle, in her first year as the director of the 45-year-old race, is delighted that her 56-year-old husband is going to be part of the race.
"He wanted to do that to support the race and be with me," she said. "It’s inspiring and I’m proud of him for not letting it get him down."
Once upon a time, a little seven-mile stroll would have been nothing for Dave.
He was a standout running back and a state champion in both the discus and shot put at Davenport West, being named the outstanding high school athlete at the 1982 Drake Relays.
He continued on to earn All-Big Eight honors in track and field at Iowa State, and in his post-graduate years, he became involved with the U.S. bobsled program. Although he never competed in the Olympics, he was a national champion in both the four-man bobsled and the skeleton and later served as a team leader for the U.S. Olympic team.
Now the director of rehabilitation services at Palmer College of Chiropractic, he still is extremely active. He is an avid cyclist who normally starts his day by pedaling up the steep hill leading from River Drive into Scott Community College. More than once.
"There’s a real interesting hill there," Juehring said. "I can do that a bunch of times and get a really hard workout for about an hour-and-a-half. That’s my thing."
He can ride a bike all day. He just can’t walk very well.
He first started noticing that a few years ago.
"I don’t have the ability to walk on my toes anymore," he said. "It’s something that just kind of crept up on me because I have had no numbness, no radiating pain. Once it started, it moved on pretty quick. So walking is not a good thing. It’s not easy for me.
"You would never know. I can ride my bike really well and do other things really well. Walking a mile is a good workout for me, not because of my lungs or my legs but my feet just don’t push off very well."
Juehring considered undergoing surgery for the problem but there was no guarantee it would help and it was almost guaranteed to give him back pain that he doesn’t have now. He decided it was something he would just live with.
It meant not being able to do the Bix 7 anymore but now, for one year at least, that has become possible.
"The good thing about the virtual is that it allows people like me, who would not be able to walk or run the race, to do it because now I can do seven one-mile increments," he said. "That’s how I’m going to do it. But the point is, I’m going to do it. The opportunity became available and this old athlete is going to do it."