The 29-year-old Vacaville resident was passing through Tracy on Monday, July 29 — the third day of a solo coast-to-coast journey to educate people about a rare brain disorder, Batten disease, and promote the global nonprofit 20K Watts, which supports alternative energies for people living in poverty.
He made a brief stop around 1:30 p.m. outside Best Buy near the West Valley Mall.
“This is the biggest thing I could come up with,” he said. “It’s such a unique event, running across America. I’m doing my part to help out.”
The run is a personal mission for Coughlan. He is making his journey in memory of two friends — 23-year-old Catie Allio, who died of Batten disease in 2012, and the founder of 20K Watts, Ryan Rossi, who had cancer and died in 2011.
Batten disease is a recessive inherited disorder of the nervous system that is often fatal by the late teens or 20s.
Starting in Half Moon Bay on July 27, Coughlan made his way into Tracy via Altamont Pass Road on Monday.
Coughlan’s plan is to run and walk an average of 33 miles a day to arrive in Boston, his destination, on Nov. 2.
He’ll travel 3,100 miles through 14 states, crossing nine mountain ranges and three deserts.
Because he is running without a chase vehicle, which typically follows a runner along the route to provide assistance, he is pushing 70 pounds of equipment in a stroller.
Among bottles of water and camping gear, he carries electronics to keep his followers updated on Twitter, Facebook and his fundraising website, www.gofundme.com/2013RunCoast2Coast.
Coughlan ran from San Diego to Jacksonville, Fla., in 2011 in his first attempt to promote awareness of Batten disease.
“This is a continuation of the 2011 (run),” he said. “It’s a Forrest Gump-type thing to raise awareness, because there’s no cure — yet.”
He plotted a route for his journey that should enable him to visit families dealing with Batten disease.
With his “veteran road experience,” Coughlan knows the trip won’t be easy. He said he had difficulty even the first night, when he two of his stroller’s three tires went flat. He plans to seek out family and friends if the need arises.
Anyone wishing to donate to Coughlan’s cause can do so on his website.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.