Sunday, July 14, 2024

Hit-and-run survivor runs 4,000km for charity

A Wellington ultra-runner and hit-and-run survivor is believed to be the first Kiwi to run across Australia and America, after recently completing the almost 4,000km run from Perth to Sydney.

The mammoth running feat by Nick Ashill was to raise funds for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ. It took him 74 days – with 66 days running and just eight rest days.

Mr Ashill says it was a strange feeling when he finally reached Bondi Beach, knowing his cross-country journey was over.

“I think if the sea hadn’t been there, I probably would have carried on running,” he said.

“My body was so used to running 60km a day and suddenly it had finished.”

He started each running day at sunrise and finished at sunset, burning between 6,000-8,000 calories a day. Mr Ashill lived in an RV during his journey and often went over a week without a shower, he says.

He described the run as relentless at times – both physically and mentally – especially through the outback of Australia with sometimes no towns in sight for 300km.

“There are lows on every long-distance run, you just have to outlast them.”

“When times were tough, mentally, I would just keep coming back to my ‘why’, my reason for doing it, and that led me to talk to my dear mum.”

Mr Ashill lost his mum to the rare lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), in 2015. IPF affects about 3 million people worldwide. There is currently no cure for the condition.

Mr Ashill’s run across Australia comes nearly seven years after he was left for dead in a ditch following an incident during a charity run across the United States. It was on day 81, when he was struck by a vehicle in what appeared to be a deliberate hit-and-run.

As a result of the incident, Ashill has arthritis in his knees and hips, and titanium rods and screws in his right leg and pelvis.

After a long and arduous recovery, he returned to the US in mid-2022 to the scene of the hit-and-run to finish the 5,400km run that ended so abruptly.

He says that post-run, despite being tired and sore, he is adjusting well to being back at work as a university professor.

Mr Ashill’s Australian run was supported by Friends of the Foundation partner, Comfortech.

To support Nick’s incredible effort, visit www.nickrunsaustralia.org.nz.

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