Some people like to challenge themselves, test their limits. William Cromarty is one such individual.
At the age of 30, Cromarty already boasts an impressive resume with five years spent undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a strong business career that currently has him working as the Director of Business Development for Airial Robotics, a drone company headquartered in Germany that “creates a completely new drone category that exceeds current industry standards in terms of flight time, payload, range and efficiency whilst at the same time having a highly modular system architecture that can be customized for a wide variety of commercial UAV Missions.” Cromarty has also quickly become involved in the Fargo-Moorhead community, serving on many boards and founding The Museum Incubator.
On top of all that he has done and is currently doing, Cromarty is also training very seriously to be a competitive Muay Thai fighter and ultramarathon runner. In his attempt to fight Muay Thai, Cromarty has made significant progress in training and is sparring as he prepares to take his first official fight within a year. On the running front, Cromarty has already tackled a few amazing challenges, running multiple marathons and in 2022, he completed the Triple Lakes Trail Race, a 40-mile race, running through the woods of North Carolina on expert-level mountain bike trails with a couple thousand feet of elevation gain.
- Spent five years working undercover for the CIA
- Currently serves on Board of Directors for Heath Company
- Currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Red River Manufacturers & Engineers Association
- Currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Midwest Manufacturers Association
- Currently serves as a Board Member for the Cass County Government
- Currently serves on the Board of Directors for the F5 Project
- Currently serves on the Board of Directors and is Vice Chair for the North Dakota Unmanned Autonomous Systems Council
- Founder and Executive Director for The Museum Incubator
- Director of Business Development for Airial Robotics
A Fitness Q&A With William Cromarty
As an extremely busy business professional and a person with extreme athletic goals, William Cromarty is an interesting person in our business community. Currently, he is training with John Kalenze, Owner and Coach of the JSK Muay Thai Academy, who he says is a fantastic coach that has helped him lose 42 pounds since he started training. He has yet to take any official fights, but he is sparring, training rigorously, and will compete in the near future.
That’s great and all, but we wanted to know why this rising national security subject-matter expert in aerospace and satellite systems, space/counter space weapons system counterproliferation, and aerospace-sector geopolitics would want to fight, why and how he runs extreme distances, and what his athletic background looks like. So, we asked.
Q: Why Fight?
A: I always knew that I wanted to fight. I always wanted to do boxing. My granddad was a competitive boxer, so it runs in the family. For me, it was just kind of a matter of time. When I was at the agency, serving undercover, that kind of lifestyle wasn’t conducive to advancing through martial arts or advancing in boxing—especially with some of those travel requirements. So, I knew I would probably have to wait until I got out of the agency to start training for it. It has always appealed to me. It’s an incredibly good workout. There’s a mental element to it. There’s a strategic element to it. I think, for me, the combination of there being a family heritage to it was a factor. And then in terms of Muay Thai, specifically, I looked at what was in front of me and intentionally selected the most brutally challenging option. It’s the same reason I run ultramarathons. I always pick the most brutally challenging option, because you have to do that to test your limits. If you look at the difference between marathon runners and ultramarathon runners, they’re two totally separate subcultures. Marathon running is about self-improvement. And ultramarathon running is about self-destruction. If you look at how you get respect in each of those sports, it’s quite different. In marathon running, the person who crosses the line first gets the most respect. And in ultramarathon running, the last guy across the finish line gets the most respect because they came the closest to death and still succeeded and still completed the race. There’s almost a sense of, if you successfully ran 40 miles, what you really should have done is challenged yourself to run 50 miles—again, it’s about testing your limits.
If you look at the difference between marathon runners and ultramarathon runners, they’re two totally separate subcultures. Marathon running is about self-improvement. And ultramarathon running is about self-destruction. If you look at how you get respect in each of those sports, it’s quite different. In marathon running, the person who crosses the line first gets the most respect. And in ultramarathon running, the last guy across the finish line gets the most respect because they came the closest to death and still succeeded and still completed the race. There’s almost a sense of, if you successfully ran 40 miles, what you really should have done is challenged yourself to run 50 miles—again, it’s about testing your limits.
The biggest thing that you have to do, and this is tying it back to the ancient Greek Delphic maxims, is Know Thyself. And I’m really big on that. I think you have to take your training schedule and tie it to your own motivation psychologically. So for me, it will sound funny, but I have absolutely zero intrinsic motivation to work out. I’ve never once woken up in my life and thought that it would be a nice day for a run. I’m perfectly happy to go run 40 miles, but I’ve never once woken up wanting to. So for me, you know, when I do extreme athletics, I tie it to my personal motivation. I’m extremely socially motivated. So, seeing the same people at the gym every single day, training with the same people, seeing my friends, that is extremely motivational for me. I’m also very competitive. So, I know that I won’t go running until I’ve booked a race and put an event on the calendar—especially if it’s beyond my current capabilities, because then I know that I have to go train for it. I’ll be up religiously at 4 a.m. training every single day as long as I’ve got something on the calendar, but I know that I won’t go train until I have that there.
Q. What does it feel like to finish an ultramarathon?
A: There’s definitely a sense of intense relief. But at the same time, when when you start running anything over about 23 miles, you really get into a meditative state. And I think especially over 30 miles, I really think you’re actually tapping into some kind of hunter-gatherer instinct there. When you look at how humans are wired for long-distance hunting, you’re definitely tapping into something primal there. And there’s really just a meditative level that I think you don’t get from a lot of other sports.
Q. What sort of things do you do for recovery?
A: I’m a big fan of ice baths and extreme cold exposure. I’ve been through the basic and advanced training for the Wim Hof Method, which I’m a big fan of. I’m big on using ice baths with saunas and saunas with freezing showers. There’s a lot of really good research out there on the benefits of that both from an immune system perspective and also from a recovery and anti-inflammation perspective. I’ll typically sauna for 15 minutes and then do three minutes of extreme cold exposure, jumping in a snowbank or doing an ice bath, and then get back in the sauna.
Q. Was there a concern from your family?
A: I think there’s probably been some element of concern from my family, from my parents, but at the same time, they knew they wouldn’t be able to stop me if they wanted to. I’ve always been dead set on wanting to fight. At this point, it will still be over a year before I start taking fights, but I do want to move toward fighting professionally. That’s been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. It feels great to finally be moving toward that.
Q. Did you participate in other athletics during your youth?
A: I’ve probably participated in over a dozen sports. I’ve done everything. I was in track and field where I did the shot put, the discus, the hammer throw, and 4x100m relays. I played baseball, soccer, futsal, racquetball, and I rowed crew for years.
And then recently, I’ve gotten into more extreme sports—marathon running, ultramarathon running, and skydiving—but I’d say Muay Thai is probably the most rewarding one I’ve ever found.
Q. What was your favorite sport growing up?
A: I really loved the Olympic style rowing crew. I rowed everything from singles and doubles all the way up through fours and eights. I really enjoyed that.
Q. Were you into camping at all?
A: Yeah, it’s definitely been a little bit too long since I’ve been able to do that, but I did a lot of that in the scouts. When I was working towards Eagle Scout, that was something that I was always really big on was backpacking. I became an instructor for wilderness survival, shotgun, and rifle merit badges and I always loved extreme outdoor survival.
Q. Was there a pretty big learning curve when you started fighting?
A: I think the big thing is, you have to leave your ego at the door. Because you’re going to take hits and you have to be okay with that. And there are going to be people who are better than you and you have to take the approach of learning from them versus feeling embarrassed by that. And I think that’s the best thing you can do is leave the ego at the door and learn from every single person.