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Run for Rare Goes Abroad: Noah Coughlan Bringing Mission to Europe and the Middle East

Mathew Shanley
Published Online: Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017
If Indiana Jones and Jason Bourne can come back for a fourth go-around, why can’t Noah Coughlan?

That’s his thought process, anyway.

In 2011, Coughlan, graduate of the Napa Valley Police Academy and resident of Vacaville, CA, became just the 222nd person to cross America on foot after running 2,500 miles, starting from Ocean Beach in San Diego and finishing up in Jacksonville, FL in just 132 days. He called his journey the 2011 Run for Rare Disease Research.

A mere two years later in 2013, Coughlan ran again. This time, his 3,100-mile trek started in Half Moon Bay, CA and calling it quits in Boston, MA in 108 days, becoming the 28th person to run across America twice. Keeping his “run every two years” tradition alive, he became the third person to run across the country three times; he started in New York City and finally rested after 3,000 miles in San Diego, CA in 127 days.

During each of those runs, Noah stopped to educate people about rare diseases as well as some of the legislative actions (21st Century Cures Act, OPEN Act) that directly impact the rare disease community.

“I had no plans to keep running when I finished in San Diego,” Coughlan said. “It was a pretty poetic finish, finishing at the same spot where I had started years before. Last year, I uncovered a little family tree when I was over in Ireland – my grandfather was born there – and so I started to think a little bit about everything that’s happened, and what else I could possibly contribute. I decided to do a little trek across Ireland, but it didn’t end there.”

It certainly didn’t end there. On April 19, Coughlan announced on his local radio station, 95.3 KUIC, that his runs to raise awareness for rare are making their way overseas. With intentions to start in Ireland, go through the UK, then travel across Greece and Israel. He hopes to run to additional countries, too, as the plans evolve. The fourth Run for Rare will begin this summer.

In crossing the country three times, Coughlan has lost weight, needed several hip repairs and innumerable sneaker replacements. Still, though, he remains determined to bring this global element to the story he has written for himself and research for rare diseases, which he states “transcend national boundaries or lines drawn on a map.”

It's Not the Years, It’s the Mileage

While his travel accommodations have not yet been established, and Coughlan knows there are some legislations he’ll have to become familiar with, there’s one item that he wants to touch on before all else:

“I’ve got to figure out what a kilometer is,” he said.

About Run for Rare

Run for Rare is an ongoing movement charged by the multiple transcontinental runs of Noah Coughlan. Coughlan has remained inspired throughout his life by the battle against a rare brain disease – Batten disease – of not one, but two of his childhood friends. His goal since 2013 has been to bring awareness and rally support for the global rare disease community, and he continues to do so with his

You can keep up with Coughlan and his latest venture, a run across several European countries, by visiting run4rare.org



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