By Lily Nussbaum | Staff Writer
Houston junior Collin Bass participated in cross country and swimming all through high school, but he said he was never one to excel. While he didn’t make varsity any of the 14 seasons he was part of the sports, he developed an addiction to the characteristics of long-distance solo competition.
Bass said he appears to be an extrovert to many, but he considers himself more of an introvert. To fuel this side of himself, he uses long-distance running. Strapped up in his pair of Brooks and surrounded by the steady thrum of nature, he allows the world’s worries to slip away.
“Life goes so fast, and there’s so many different things that are distracting us all day long,” Bass said. “It’s a time to get away and be with myself.”
During his first two years of college, Bass said he became interested in running half and full marathons because of the commitment — it was a way to challenge himself. In spring 2022 alone, Bass ran both the Bearathon and the Silo District Half Marathon.
“The IRONMAN was like that next big step,” Bass said. “I’m never going to be more in shape than I am right now, and so let’s just see if I can do it or not.”
The Sunday of the Silobration half marathon, Bass’ runner’s high led him to look up how long it would take to train for an IRONMAN. The answer was 30 weeks.
How far away was the Waco IRONMAN? 30 weeks.
Bass said he immediately kicked into gear, training for IRONMAN Waco 2022. With the guidance of his elementary school teacher-turned-IRONMAN coach Charlotte French, Bass endured nine hours of cardio each week, increasing the number as race day closed in.
Bass said he often muttered the phrase “just keep pedaling,” but he never gave up. He centered himself on his goal and the quiet of a run or swim.
“When you spend half of a year training for something every single day with that level of commitment, you know, that’s a big deal,” Allen junior Benjamin Nopper, Bass’ enthusiastic best friend, said. “There’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into that.”
In addition to his coach, Bass said his mom prepared and inspired him during training. Starting at three feet tall, he said his childhood was spent making posters and ringing cowbells with his siblings for his mom’s triathlons and his dad’s marathons.
The roles reversed on the day of Bass’ race.
His parents flew in from Ohio for the race and joined a large group of supporters spearheaded by Nopper. They cheered from the sidelines during each stroke, step and peddle of the race and were the first to greet Bass as he crossed the finish line at 13 hours, 43 minutes and 35 seconds.
“He is a very steady figure, but you could see the joy but also the relief and then like the emotion of having his family there,” Nopper said. “You knew how much that meant to him.”
While finishing a full IRONMAN is a big achievement, the medal and prestigious title weren’t the focus for Bass. He runs for peace, for the challenge and for the community found in each step of the sport.
“I couldn’t have done it without the people training next to me or the people on the sidelines cheering and screaming their heads off along the way,” Bass said. “Those really sentimental moments are more important than the big end goal.”