Cross-continent charity running attempt a feet of endurance

Posted on 16 Apr 2024

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Asthma charity runner Nick Ashill

Despite suffering arthritis and having titanium rods and screws in his right leg and pelvis, 59-year-old Nick Ashill is embarking on a 4,000 km run across Australia, in the name of charity.

Nick Ashill isn’t the kind of person to take no for an answer.

Anyone who had to put up with arthritis in their knees and hips and titanium rods and screws in their right leg and pelvis could be forgiven for wanting to do nothing more taxing than rest on the couch.

The 59-year-old New Zealander, however, has instead set out to run almost 4,000km across Australia in the name of charity.

In fact, Nick said his physical limitations, the result of a horrendous hit and run car accident during a charity run in the United States, have made him even more determined to complete his cross-continent odyssey.

“Every step I take in April, May and June will symbolise the everyday struggles and challenges faced by those living with a respiratory condition,” said Nick, who is running to raise money for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand.

Nick and his mum
Nick is running to raise money for his beloved Mum, pictured.

It is a cause particularly close to his heart.

Nick lost his mother to a rare lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), in 2015. IPF affects about three million people worldwide and there no cure.

“The memory of my mum and the fight she endured every day to breathe is a constant reminder of the importance of the Foundation’s work,” said Nick.

It was on day 81 of his attempt to run 5,400km across the US seven years ago that Nick was struck by a vehicle and left for dead in a ditch, in what appeared to be a deliberate hit-and-run.

After a long and arduous recovery, Nick returned to the US in mid-2022 and travelled to the scene of the accident to finish the run that had ended so abruptly.

“Running 5,400km across the US was not conventional and Australia will be no different, but what drives me is a yearning to help others living with respiratory disease.”

Nick recovering in hospital after being hit by a car during his attempt to run across the United States.
"I am not an elite runner. I am just an ordinary person wanting to do something extraordinary."
Nick Ashill.

Nick set out on his epic journey on April 15 from Cottesloe Beach in Perth and plans to finish at Bondi Beach in Sydney in 70 days.

If successful, Nick will be one of just a handful of people who have run across both the US and Australia.

"I am not an elite runner. I am just an ordinary person wanting to do something extraordinary.

“Yes, I want to prove to myself that I can complete another cross-country run, but, more importantly, I want people to know about the cause I am running for."

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand chief executive Letitia Harding said Ashill’s commitment to honouring his mother’s memory by supporting others with respiratory diseases was admirable.

“Losing a loved one is never easy, but Nick continues to show strength and determination in his bid to help others,” she said.

“We are grateful for his ongoing support in our mission to help 700,000 Kiwis living with a respiratory condition in New Zealand.”

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