Tim Wakeland spent his summers running around Sebec Lake and entering road races.
He was an Air Force brat and his mother, Margaret Shepardson, was from Dover-Foxcroft.
In fact, his mother met his father, Gary, when he was stationed at the former Dow Air Force Base in Bangor.
Wakeland, who is going to be inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame next year, has been running for 40 years. He has missed just two days during that time and has covered over 100,000 miles.
“It’s like brushing your teeth,” he said.
The former cross country All-American at Iowa State became interested in running through his father.
“My father was quite a runner. He was a marathoner and did pretty well,” Wakeland said. “He did a lot of the Paul Bunyan Marathons [Bangor to Orono and back]. And we were always stationed in places where they had a lot of races and marathons and stuff. It was great.”
One of those bases was Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
They had just spent their second tour of duty at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone before his father was assigned to Offutt.
Wakeland was playing football his ninth grade year in Bellevue, Nebraska, and was outrunning all of his teammates during warm-ups.
The coach, John Lincoln, took note of it and approached Wakeland one day.
“He said the track and field team needed some distance runners,” said Wakeland, who took him up on the offer.
Then his career took off.
He began running for Bellevue West High School and put together an impressive career that included six large-school state championships.
He won the cross country title his junior year and, in outdoor track, he won the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter runs. He captured the 1600 and 3200 titles his senior year.
He was recruited by several schools, including Nebraska, Kansas, the University of Texas-El Paso and Iowa State.
“Bill Bergan was the coach at Iowa State and he had international runners and had coached Olympians and world record holders so that was a draw for me,” said Wakeland, who earned a partial scholarship to Iowa State.
He didn’t know what to expect but found that his teammates were “very welcoming.”
Wakeland had a solid cross country career at Iowa State and was named an All-American his sophomore year when he finished 36th overall in the NCAA Cross Country championships. He wound up 23rd among American runners and the top 25 American runners earned All-American status.
But he had to learn a new event for track.
“In middle school, I was also a hurdler and triple jumper in addition to running the 800 and 1600,” Wakeland said. “So coach Bergan said he was going to make me a steeple-chaser.”
But Wakeland was also used as a utility distance runner.
The steeple chase is a 3,000-meter race that requires the runners to clear 28 three-foot-high barriers [for men] and seven water jumps, which are barriers followed by a 12-foot long water pit.
“I liked it. It is one of those things that you had to be on your game that day. It was a gruelling event. If you went out too fast, you could come apart at the seams. If you went out slow and got far behind, it was too hard to make up that distance,” he said.
He wound up winning the steeple chase at the prestigious Drake (University) Relays track meet in 1987 and 1988 and he also ran a leg for the Cyclones’ triumphant 4-by-1600 relay team both years.
Wakeland qualified for the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials as a steeple-chaser.
After graduating from Iowa State, he went on to attend physical therapy school in Des Moines, Iowa. After becoming a physical therapist, he and his wife Allison Huntington, who is also from Dover-Foxcroft, decided to settle in Maine where he continued his career by running and winning a ton of road races.
In looking back on his career, his memorable performances at the Drake University Relays in Des Moines, his high school state championships and his berth in the Olympic Trials all stand out.
The Wakelands spent four years in Holden before moving to Dedham in 1995, where they still reside.
The two times he didn’t run over the last 40 years occurred when his wife was called into work during a big snowstorm and he had to take care of their two children, daughter Linley and son Connor.
“The other time I had a lot of things going on. I was working around the house and realized that I hadn’t run that day,” he said.
Wakeland said when he was young, he “loved to compete.”
“You aren’t sure what’s going to happen when you step up to the [starting] line. You may be confident but there’s always a little bit of doubt,” he said.
Now, as a 55-year-old, he takes pleasure in the solitude of running and “the feeling of being fit.”
He has never run a marathon and that is on his bucket list. However, there are few if any of those these days due to the coronavirus.
Wakeland, a physical therapist with offices in Ellsworth and Bangor, said he embraces the “whole process of training for a marathon.”
He said he is honored by his selection to the Maine Running Hall of Fame and that he will be included in a nine-member group that includes Glendon Rand, Louie Luchini, Andy Spaulding and Gladys Ganiel.
“It’s pretty cool. It is a fantastic group,” said Wakeland, who has a personal best of 4:03.07 in the one-mile run indoors.