A former British Army Physical Training Instructor, NF Endurance athlete Craig Noble is once again dedicating his competitive racing efforts to the Children's Tumor Foundation, this time in the epic Race Across America (RAAM). Craig is part of a four-person team raising funds and awareness for four different charities. Racing day and night against the clock and other teams, they will try to cycle over 3,000 miles, coast to coast across 12 states, in one week. The race starts in Oceanside, California on Tuesday, June 13, and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday, June 17 (or whenever the team crosses the finish line!). Craig took a brief break from training to tell us about his passion for competitive racing and what it means to compete in the name of CTF.
"Sporting challenges have always played a large role in my life. My early experiences, including being taken to local races in the Yorkshire moors of England by my cross-country teacher at the age of 11, inspired me to embark upon a 30-year career in health and fitness.
I spent 12 years in the British army as a physical training instructor, where I was presented with often extreme physical challenges as a soldier, enabling me to discover my physical capabilities, my passion and ability for endurance, as well as developing the mental strength required under tough conditions. Ultimately, I was chosen to represent Great Britain as a national triathlete.
Over the course of 20 years, I competed in races around the world, most notably, European and World Championships, striving to be the best and chasing the constant lure of the perfect race.
I started with Olympic distance racing but soon found myself drawn to the ironman distance, which tested my mental and physical boundaries in more challenging ways. I was lucky enough to travel and compete in many ironman races around the world, picking out the races that had a reputation for being tough rather than just fast. After competing in Ironman Hawaii (a long-term career goal), I retired from competitive sport, believing I had learned all there was to learn about endurance racing.
Fast-forward ten years to November 2015 … a client and friend of mine had been telling me about her daughter, a young girl with neurofibromatosis type 1. After our training session, I found myself sitting on a rowing machine pondering how I could make a difference. The endurance animal that had been dormant for so long awoke there and then. I chose to reawaken the physicality I had been blessed with and attempt to break the British age-group record for rowing 100 thousand meters on an indoor rower. Six months, and a lot of blood sweat and tears later, I managed to do exactly that, in aid of the Children’s Tumor Foundation, and for the NF Hero who battles to endure exhausting physical and mental challenges every day of the year.
I am overwhelmed by the amazing love and support that the Children’s Tumor Foundation provides for so many people. This serves to encourage me to keep coming up with more crazy physical challenges, in order to create awareness for NF sufferers and raise funds needed for research into the condition. On a personal level, I have realised how all the years of racing for glory and trophies pale compared to my desire to help CTF raise awareness and funds to find a cure for NF.
I may be a retired ageing athlete, but I'm not too old to use the physicality I have to keep making a difference. Racing in RAAM will not only test my body but also my mind, especially as the miles add up and sleep deprivation kicks in. However, I take strength and inspiration from the children and adults suffering from NF on a daily basis – this is the driving force that will push me to endure more hardship as the race progresses. Fundamentally, my strength is born from love. I can only hope that my small effort helps to make a difference and raise money for the research needed to find a cure for NF."
- Craig Noble