By Nick Ashill
On Sunday, May 14, I started off in front of Santa Monica Pier in Los Angles. I have now been running for over a month and on Wednesday, June 14, exactly a month after I started my run, I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. So far I have run 1,484 km. I have run through California and Arizona, and I am about a third through New Mexico.
Blisters continue to be a problem, but this is to be expected given I need to average 50 km per day. So far I am managing to maintain this figure. My body is tired, and I am taking each day as it comes. The run is not about the 5,400 km distance. It is about 108 runs of 50 km each.
California was very extreme in terms of temperature. It ranged from 6 degrees Celsius to 43 degrees over a 12-day period. Arizona was a little more kind with temperatures in the low 30s. I have also confronted some big elevations, and I have climbed to just under 7,000 feet. I have seen rattlesnakes, wild deer, wild dogs, cattle and I have met some wonderful people.
My support crew (my father-in-law, Pete, and my eldest daughter, Emily) has been fantastic. But now my daughter has gone to South Carolina to do a course, and she will join me again at the end of the month. And my father-in-law has gone back to New Zealand. Now I have Dr. Jeffrey Baker, Associate Professor of Marketing and Information Systems at American University of Sharjah School of Business Administration. Jeff will be with me as support crew for about 10 days!
Just a few highlights of the run so far:
This was an emotional day at the start of the run in front of the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles holding the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust flag. It progressed to be an interesting first day, as I got a little lost in LA. I couldn't easily find Route 66 after leaving Santa Monica! I ran 64 km on that first day.
Day two had cooler temperatures and rain, and I did a nice 42 km. By the end of the day, I had crossed over 100 km, which put me a bit ahead.
I had to go over some steep climbs, but the body was performing remarkably well. Route 66 stopped so I needed to take the Truck Summit road. This added 13 km and a 900 m climb to my run. There was some sleet, and I had a lovely day with 8 degrees as well as cold wind. There was less traffic on road, and at the end of day 4 I had completed 209 km.
The rain on Day 2 had damaged the running sensors for my running shoes. These are sensors provided to me by Run Scribe to monitor my run and verify that I actually run across America. Tim Clarke, Founder of Run Scribe, drove all the way from LA to Victorville to provide me with some new sensors for my running shoes.
I did not enjoy day 9. It was 39 degrees and had an 18 km detour because Route 66 was closed. The 18 km was uphill all the way. But this is nothing compared what those individuals who are living with pulmonary fibrosis face. There are 32,000 people living with the illness in the UK and over 150,000 in the US.
On day 12 I hit 547 km. I couldn't feel my feet, but it was a great feeling to get past 500 km. That’s about 10 percent of the run done.
This was an incredible day. I did a 3,600 ft climb through Oatman, Arizona. I followed 28 km of old railway track to Oatman. I met some donkeys and bulls, and at the top of the climb, a lady called Jo donated $10 to my charity. Her husband died of pulmonary fibrosis last year. We shared stories, laughed and cried. At the end of this day I had run a total of 603 km.
The temperature remained around 35 degrees but it was getting cooler at night as I neared Flagstaff, Arizona. I had a scary moment with three dogs deciding to chase me. They were not fenced in! Fortunately, I had some help from a passing car! The total distance travelled to this day was 752.6 km.
This was a wonderful rest day, and my crew and I spent the day visiting the Grand Canyon. Words can't describe this wonder of nature.
At the beginning of Week 4, I reached another milestone as I ran past the 1,000 km mark heading into Holbrook, Arizona.
This was a day with variety. I was stopped by the Arizona Police, chased by dogs, and experienced a thunderstorm and an encounter with a rattlesnake. I had run into a few of them before. Despite all that, I ran some 63.7 km, making it to a total of 1,128 km to this point.
On this day I said goodbye Arizona and hello New Mexico! This was another milestone as I crossed that state line and clocked in some 1,182 km in my run.
It seem I attracted, among other people, highway patrol! On this day I met Kristin and Chris, New Mexico State Troopers about 60 km from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I thanked them for looking out for me.
After running 1,483.6 km, I had to take a few days to rest in Albuquerque. I had to say goodbye to my crew. My father-in-law, who drove the RV for four weeks, had to leave to go back to New Zealand. My daughter Emily also had to leave for South Carolina for 10 days. She will be back at the end of the month. I miss them, both but it was great to have my mate Jeff join me for the next 11 days!
I still have a long way to go, but so far so good. Please visit my website www.nickrunsamerica.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/nickrunsamerica/ for regular updates of the run. My wife, Sarah, regularly updates the running webpage with maps and photos. Keep breathing.
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.