Vacaville Reporter February 1, 2015 By Richard Rico
ON Feb. 28, Noah Coughlan is going out for a run. He’ll be back July Fourth. Not a bad connection considering he launches from the Statue of Liberty. He will cross his finish line in San Diego 127 days later — tanned, toned, with 3,100 miles of wear on his shoes and inspiration churning in his wake. Why? Because he’s driven. He has something to say, and his feet will do the talking. It will be Noah’s third (and final, he says) run across America, a rare distinction unto itself. “More people have walked on the surface of the moon than have run across America a total of three times,” he told me, and he ought to know. At 31, Noah, a lifelong Vacan, is a runner with a cause. In 2011, a Run for Research was inspired by friends Catie and Annie Allio, both afflicted with Batten Disease, a degenerative disease for which there is no cure. Catie died in 2012, at 23. Her sister Annie, 16, is fighting it. That first run began in San Diego and ended 2,500 miles later in Jacksonville FL. It was Noah, his cart full of support gear and his spirit. He was solo but not alone; far from it. People lined highways and byways to cheer him on. Noah was a circuit rider, taking his message of help and hope to the streets.
TWO years later, Noah ran an encore, a 3,100-miler, Half Moon Bay to Boston, through 17 states to become only the 28th person to run across America twice. This time his cart flew a flag once flown over war-torn Iraq, presented him by the Air Force. Noah met with Batten-stricken families, gave radio, TV and newspaper interviews and told his story many times in classrooms. On his last day, 25 police cars and Marine guards escorted him as he stepped into the Atlantic. Run No. 2 was finished, but Noah wasn’t done. His final run is a Run for Rare, to underscore the plight of the 350 million people worldwide suffering from rare disease. A sendoff is set for Sunday, Feb. 15, at Theatre DeVille at 1 p.m. We’re invited by Noah sponsors NorthBay Healthcare and Luminous Media whose video crew will link up with him to record his journey. “I’m just a kid from Vacaville who wants to run and make an impact,” he said. At home, he’ll be besieged with requests for talks before groups and classrooms, and he’ll likely leave youth with his signature challenge: “Dream big, Act big.” Noah runs the talk.