By Dr. Nicholas Ashill
Eighty days have now passed since I started my run from Los Angeles to New York to help raise awareness and funds for families suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis as well as to inspire people to dream big. I started off in the early morning of May 14, in front of the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California.
I have now been running for almost 12 weeks and have covered over 4,000 km. I still have a lot more running to do to get to the end of this very strenuous ultra-marathon. My expected arrival date in New York is around August 26.
I have now run through a number of different states of the US including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. I am currently running through Ohio and have another five days in this state before I reach Pennsylvania and 14 days of running up and down hills! After Pennsylvania, I move on to New Jersey and then to New York. My body is tired but I continue to will myself closer to my final destination.
My wife Sarah and support crew (my daughter Emily and Kieran) have been magnificent. Thank you guys for keeping me going during the low times… of which there have been many! I continue to meet people who have pulmonary fibrosis and hear about their stories of courage and inspiration. I feel powerless knowing that there is no cure to pulmonary fibrosis but I hope my run will help to increase awareness of the disease.
In additional to meeting people, I have also had to run through varying altitudes and different weather conditions such as rain, high temperatures and humidity. I have seen rattlesnakes, wild deer, wild dogs, cattle and many others along this incredible journey. Thankfully, I have seen fewer snakes, scorpions and wild animals in the past few weeks. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have been about corn and beans! Hundreds of miles of corn fields and soya beans! Sadly not much to look at.
A few weeks ago we experienced a tire blowout on the Interstate. A frightening experience at speed. We had some damage to the RV but no one was hurt. The RV was off the road for a few days to be fixed but I welcomed and enjoyed the additional rest time.
As some of you already know, I have long dreamed of running a serious ultra-marathon, such as the Route 66 venture. My mother’s death from pulmonary fibrosis in 2015 gave me a reason and an incentive to commit to this run, along with a charitable cause to support.
Pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease, occurs when lung tissue is damaged or scarred, which causes permanent breathing difficulties. According to the Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research, with most patients, doctors can still not tell with certainty what causes the disease.
So as I run, I am also raising money for scientific research, and to provide oxygen bottles and support to individuals directly affected by the disease and their families. The donations will also help fund care for those suffering from pulmonary fibrosis who can’t move anymore. Please continue to follow my progress on Facebook and Instagram (@Nick.RunsAmerica). You are also welcome to check out my website.
Thank you to everyone at American University of Sharjah (AUS) for your support. I look forward to finishing the 5,000km plus run in a few weeks and returning to AUS to share my experiences.
Dr. Nicholas Ashill is a Professor of Marketing at American University of Sharjah.
Visit www.aus.edu for more information about American University of Sharjah.