The role of a “pacer” in a race like the first annual Kentucky History Half Marathon is to keep runners, well, on pace to accomplish their desired time. Pacers provide guidance and inspiration over the 13.1-mile course. One of our pacers, Dale Buettner, has inspiration to spare — 280 pounds of it.
That’s the amount of weight the 46-year-old Lexington resident lost three years ago, and he’s been keeping it off through determination, guts and lots and lots of miles.
A native of Waterloo, Illinois, Buettner took a cue from his mom in using food to cope with the turmoil his family experienced early in his life. He was already overweight by first grade when his mother had to custom-make his Little League uniform. By sixth grade, he weighed 220 pounds. A life-long struggle with weight loss and gain continued through high school, college and marriage to his wife, Leslie.
Five years ago, Buettner was at his heaviest—450 pounds. He says it was nearly impossible to even find a scale that could weigh him. It was time to do something.
First, he followed along when his wife joined Weight Watchers, and had success. He then incorporated exercise. The weight started melting away. Three years ago he started running, and it wasn’t long before he was piling on some serious mileage. Not only did he run his first half marathon within a year, he discovered another strong source of support and camaraderie.
“It’s really enjoyable for me,” he told WKYT-Lexington’s Sam Dick this past April as he prepared for Lexington’s first annual Horse Capital Marathon. “Now I love getting out with friends … this whole new community of friends that I have because I became a runner.”
It wasn’t the first time Buettner had been “on air.” He became a local weight loss celebrity when he and Leslie traveled to New York in 2013 to be interviewed by nutritionist Joy Bauer on the TODAY show.
Buettner has now finished five marathons, the most recent being the Erie Marathon at Presque Isle in Pennsylvania on Sept 13.
Having shed the equivalent weight of two people, Buettner’s goal now is to keep the pounds off. It’s something he battles every day. He also helps others who are struggling with their weight and regularly leads a group at Quest Community Church on a variety of challenges like food addiction, eating disorders, body image and more.
“There’s hope,” he tells them. “It can change.”