UNI student breaks record for fastest time running across Iowa

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Paul Noble ran 279.85 miles across Iowa over Spring Break, setting a new record for the fastest time run across the state. Noble averaged 70 miles per day and averaged two and five hours each night.

MALLORY SCHMITZ

While the majority of students spent their spring break on vacation or enjoying the time off from classes, UNI sophomore Paul Noble had a much more ambitious goal: to run across the entire state of Iowa.

Noble set out on his trek from Muscatine at 5 a.m. on March 13. Three days, 22 hours and 50 minutes later, he crossed the Nebraska border having run 279.85 miles, setting a new fastest known time for the run.

Noble is considered an “ultramarathoner,” someone who runs races longer than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. As he followed his route on Old Highway 92, he averaged roughly 70 miles per day and only slept between two and five hours each night.

After completing the run, Noble wrote in an Instagram caption, “Lots of ups and downs but the coolest experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

Although his own name will sit next to the fastest known time title, Noble insisted in a post he made on Facebook that his supporters deserve the title as much as he does. “The main crew throughout the whole race consisted of my girlfriend Sam, and my mom and dad. My crew was top notch. My mom was funny and reliable during the trip. My dad was the logistics genius, and my girlfriend was my rock throughout the whole thing,” he wrote.

  Noble went on to explain how his friends and family provided meals during his run, helped check him into hotels, drove ahead of him during the night to keep tabs on oncoming vehicles, and kept him motivated with words of encouragement. “I get the credit for running across Iowa,” he wrote, “but in reality it wasn’t just me. It was all of us. Without them, I would not have finished.”

  During his second day of running, the previous record holder ran alongside Noble for nine hours of his 18.5 hour day. Taylor Ross completed the run in four days, 15 hours and 32 minutes in October 2020. He returned to pace Noble as he attempted to beat Ross’s own record from just a year and a half earlier.

  By the fourth day, as physical and emotional stress continued to grow, Noble had another special surprise. “My grandpa came out and we walked for a bit,” he wrote on Facebook. “Grandpa then asked, ‘Are we gonna start running?’ He’s 84 years old and wants to run! Talk about a true inspiration.”

  Noble met a crowd of loved ones and supporters when he reached Council Bluffs and finished the run at 3:50 a.m., beating the old record by roughly 15 hours. “The record is cool and all,” he wrote, “but it doesn’t compare to the journey and memories and friendships I created along the way.”

  This accomplishment isn’t the first ultramarathon Noble has completed.  

He completed his first 100 mile race through Zion National Park in April 2021 and continued to compete in races challenging in both distance and terrain over the course of the year.

  Despite the incredible achievement over spring break, Noble is far from done with ultramarathons. His next planned race is the Bigfoot 200 in August, where he will attempt to run 209.5 miles in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

  To learn more about Noble’s achievements or to help fund his future races, visit www.paulnobleruns.com. Noble also hosts the podcast “The Old Man and the Kid” where he interviews other extreme athletes, which is available on Spotify and YouTube.