Noah Coughlan, of Vacaville, will embark on another cross-country run for Batten’s and other rare diseases.
Noah Coughlan, of Vacaville, will embark on another cross-country run for Batten's and other rare diseases. (Joel Rosenbaum/JRosenbaum@TheReporter.com)
Noah Coughlan isn't crazy, he's just motivated.

So confirmed the 29-year-old Vacaville man, who today embarks on his second cross-country run in two years.

"It's 3,100 miles, nine mountain ranges, three deserts, 14 states and three time zones," he said Friday.

In 2011, Coughlan ran 2,500 miles, from Oceanside to Florida, in five months with a support crew in tow in a bid to raise awareness of Batten Disease. The condition is a rare degenerative neurological disorder that causes blindness, loss of cognitive and motor skills, and more. It is incurable and children afflicted with Batten usually live only into their teens.

This time, he'll run 600 miles farther, a month shorter and complete the event -- from Half Moon Bay to Boston -- alone. His only companions will be a three-wheeled stroller filled with supplies and a large American flag.

Though he still aims to shine a spotlight on Batten, dedicating his run to people like Catie Allio of Vacaville, who have since lost their battle with the disease, Coughlan has expanded his mission to include sufferers of all rare disorders and also the late Ryan Rossi of the 20k Watts organization. The latter is an international nonprofit dedicated to provide those living in extreme poverty with solar and wind energy.

"I'm still in a position to make an impact. That's why I'm doing this," he said. "I enjoy the adventure of it and I get to see the country at 30 miles a day and I get to help people out along the way.


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As for championing new issues, like 20k Watts, Coughlan pointed to an ever-evolving world view. Rossi, he added, died at 27, and Coughlan was the same age when he ran across America the first time.

"I just think it's about another worthy cause that needs attention," he explained. "I'm doing my part to help. ... And right now I have a prime opportunity to do this. "

Unmarried and not yet set in a career, Coughlan said his only focus right now will be on running to raise awareness of the causes he cares about. When he returns home in November, he'll begin to think about the next chapter of his life and welcome whatever comes. A police academy graduate, he'll likely pursue that profession, he said, though being a motivational speaker would be fun, too.

If he successfully completes this run, Coughlan will be the 27th person to run cross country twice.

Until then, he'll be all about the miles, meeting families along the way and giving talks at schools.

His goal: "To help empower the youth to dream big, to be more."

To learn more about Coughlan, visit www.battenjourney.com.

For information or to make a donation for Batten research, go to the Batten Disease Support and Research Association website, www.bdsra.org.

Follow Staff Writer Kimberly K. Fu at Twitter.com/ReporterKimFu.