Nate Waggenspack: A great example came running through Craig

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Nate Waggenspack

— On Thursday, I had the pleasure of interviewing a man doing something completely insane — but also pretty cool.

Noah Coughlan is running across the United States for the second time in three years. At 29, he’s running (and yes, at times walking) across the U.S. two more times than the rest of us will do it in all our lifetimes combined. Yes, this is me admitting I do not plan on going from California to New York or Florida or wherever on foot.

Of course, Coughlan was not just doing it for himself. He is raising money for the fight against Batten disease, a rare genetic brain disease that affected two girls in a family where he grew up and affects mostly children across the country and the world today.

That cause is worthy and admirable on its own, but as a former athlete and someone who occasionally tries to get sporty in my postgraduation lifetime, I couldn’t help but admire his work ethic even more.

Coughlan said he was covering about 33 miles per day on average. The morning he left Craig, his goal was to make it to Steamboat, which would be a more than 40-mile day. I’m a runner, so I know: It’s crazy enough to run more than 30 miles in a day once. To do it two days in a row is beyond my comprehension. To do it day after day beyond that is mind-boggling.

That’s what I came away from the interview thinking about — what unbelievable work and athleticism must have gone into this venture.

Coughlan admitted that his runs are not very fun some of the time. I can only imagine that his time traveling from Dinosaur to Craig while it was pouring half the time was miserable. But he put a ton of work in and chose to challenge himself and is not backing down from it.

Coughlan has had to train himself physically to an extreme. But the mental fortitude he’s needed through the first 50 days of running is even more impressive.

This is the type of thing sports can prepare you for. Maybe not running across the country, but facing adversity, staying tough in the face of it and forging ahead.

This story is an inspiring one for me, partially because Coughlan is giving of himself for others but also because he is pushing himself. It’s a lot easier to do that when you’re part of a team in high school or college and a lot tougher when you’re on your own, with nothing to work for except self-satisfaction.

Athletics don’t have to be the only way we go about this sort of journey. We can choose to go to back to college or graduate school or do service in a part of the country that needs it.

Regardless of how we choose to better ourselves, what’s important is that we are challenging and bettering ourselves. Noah Coughlan came through as a reminder of how amazing that process can be, if you just decide to get started.

Nate Waggenspack is feeling terribly inadequate about his running habits all of a sudden. He can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.

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