Run Noble - A Story By Friends Who Lost A Friend

Run Noble

By Lindsay Creasman and Riley Markel

Several weeks ago, an article was published on MileSplit TX about Tanner Noble, a runner who passed away from The Woodlands High School. Tanner was an exceptional person. He was great in the classroom, a fierce competitor, and a champion at life. He was also a beloved son to his parents, Kimbie and Kevin Noble, younger brother to his sister, Ashley Noble, and best friend to all. Tanner was a runner for The Woodlands.

From a young age, he had talent. He was a natural athlete and always worked to be the best at everything he did. However, Tanner did not work just to simply be the best; he enjoyed the process. His cross country legs were always covered with scratches and bruises from trying a new trick on his bike or some other adventurous activity. I would always ask him, "Aren't you afraid that this will affect your running?" Tanner would always reply saying that running didn't dictate his entire life. He wanted to enjoy every second of it and not put the pressure of beating the clock on himself. I think this is something most people, especially runners, forget. They think about how their life can fit into their running and not how their running fits into their life. I know I personally struggled with this.

People can often become too consumed by their sport and idolize it. In today's society, we see how well others are performing and we work to catch up. Competition is good for people, but we have to remember that there is more to life than just being the best at something. Running is more than just putting one foot in front of the other and more than just breaking the tape at the finish line. I learned this from Tanner and hope that others can learn it from him too.

Tanner passed away on July 24, 2017, doing something he loved with the people he loved most -- his teammates and brothers: Alec Martin, Riley Markel, Noah Wells, and William Hunsdale. Tanner was the glue between us all. Several of us ran and became best friends because we all had ties to Tanner one way or another. The day after his death, some other runners -- Maria Moriarty, Layla Moriarty, Nina Moriarty, and Tim Wolbers -- and I drove to our school's track. We needed something to do to process what had happened. As we were running, we passed by the clearing in the trees behind the first curve of the track. The Woodlands boys always place their team tent at meets. Tanner would always be there in a lawn chair cheering on those racing before and after him. We had been trying to think of places where we could make a memorial for Tanner. The track made the most sense to us.

We walked to the tent area and saw a tree large enough to hang a plaque of some sort. It is now Tanner's tree. He can now look above the Highlanders as they lace up for their race. Athletes can look up at the T on the tree and remember to have fun and live life and be reminded that running is a part of it, but not all of it. He can give them strength when going one more lap seems impossible. Right next to the "T" tree, there is another tree that is now growing track spikes instead of leaves. Tanner's friends and teammates all tossed up their respects to Tanner by throwing old track spikes onto the tree. A once rather bare corner is now decorated with the bright colors of spikes and memories of Tanner. He brightened up the area, similar to how he brightened up those around him. The two trees stand by what made us all who we are today: the track.

Without that oval we would not have ever met Tanner, and we would not have ever met each other. No matter how one of us raced, we knew that meet days would still be the best because we would be able to spend time together afterwards. Running allowed us to be together almost every single day and allowed us to encourage each other through not only the pain during running, but also the pain during life. We became a family. If one of us was struggling with something that meant all of us were struggling with it. We learned how to take on things together.

This world is confusing and flawed, and at times nothing makes sense. Things happen that we don't understand and sometimes there is nothing that we can do about it. This is how we all feel right now about Tanner. The only thing we can do for him now is live for him and his family.

Tanner was a runner, so we can run for him. Tanner was a biker, so we can bike for him. Tanner was an explorer, so we can explore for him. Most importantly, Tanner was a friend, so we can love each other for him. The ultimate form of love is sacrifice and doing certain things for people that they can't do themselves. I believe Tanner sacrificed himself for us as his friends go off to college. It can be easy to lose touch when away, but Tanner would want us to stay together, and now I know we will. He sacrificed himself because he loves us and wants us to remain a family. Through the loss of Tanner, his friends, teammates, and classmates have become closer than ever. Tanner left us knowing that his friendship would create great new bonds and strengthen old ones between the people he held most dear.

We can all show Tanner how much we love him by sacrificing our pride and selfishness when it comes to running. Make your race about him instead of yourself, and dedicate those victories and PR's to those who helped you get to that point. And most importantly, live life how Tanner would: having fun. If you run a bad race, just think about the future like Tanner would. Like any runner, Tanner had his fair share of bad races where he would do his best but just fall flat, and when he didn't perform his best, he would be visibly angry. Not at anyone, just at himself. However, he was never angry for long because he would always remind himself of the bigger picture. He would always say, "I have more to my life than just this one race. With time this race will not affect what is happening in my life." We need to remember to think positively. Some of us will continue to run in college, but for others, four years is all we will get. If we are not meant to be professional or collegiate runners then that means we are meant for something else. Those "bad races" will mean nothing with time, and it is important to know that running is so much more than just a sport. It is a community and a safe haven.

People find their strength through rough times. Just how Brett Favre played the greatest game of his life when his father passed away, The Woodlands athletes will run the races of their lives for Tanner. Seniors Gavin Hoffpauir and Daniel Baker plan on running for Tanner and leading the team to success. The Woodlands and those who knew Tanner will run with him in their hearts and will follow the road life has taken them on with Tanner smiling from above. Tanner has taught us all so much about how to live life with a smile and without fear. This tragedy has forced many of us to grow up and learn faster than we expected. Even though he is no longer on earth with us, Tanner continues to teach us new things, just as his name suggests. Hopefully people who never even knew him can still learn from the way he lived his life. He lives within all of us now. The Woodlands this season, and the rest of those who knew Tanner will remind ourselves through all the ups and downs that we are fast, we are strong, and we are Noble.