SHARJAH 11 May 2017: For Dr. Nicholas Ashill, Professor of Marketing at American University of Sharjah (AUS), the start of his epic journey is close at hand.
With less than a week to go before he begins his three-month, 5,400 km-run across the USA to inspire people to dream big and to help families suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, the New Zealander is geared up to commence the challenge he has set himself.
Dr. Ashill, who is the Chalhoub Chair of Luxury Brand Management at the School of Business Administration (SBA) at AUS, will set off at 6 am on May 14 from Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and conclude his run 110 days later in New York.
The first 3,000 km of his journey will see him run along the iconic Route 66. Once he reaches St. Louis, Missouri, he will continue along other roads all the way to New York.
For a seasoned runner like Dr. Ashill, a challenge of this nature was something he had always planned to undertake in his life. His mother’s death two years ago from pulmonary fibrosis provided him with a reason to accept this challenge so that he could help raise awareness of and funds for those suffering from this disease.
“A key objective of my run across America is to raise money to support families who are affected by the disease. So many people need practical, emotional and financial support and I desperately want to help with this. My family received so much love and emotional support during the last two years of my mum’s life and I want to give back,” he said.
Through this run, Dr. Ashill plans to raise funds for scientific research as well as to provide oxygen bottles and support to individuals directly affected by the disease and their families.
He started training for this incredible challenge in the summer in New Zealand and Cyprus. During the month of September, he ran half marathons every day, moving on to “hill work” the following month in places such as Fujairah and Oman.
“More people have climbed Mount Everest than those who have run across the USA,” he said. “On average 20 to 30 people attempt such a race annually, mostly in the winter, rather than in the May–August timeframe I am planning to run,” he added.
His plan is to run 50 km per day—seven days a week—beginning each day at 6am and ending his run between 1—2pm. He plans to take a day off every week once he is a quarter to a third of the way along the distance. His support team, which includes his eldest daughter and his father-in-law, will be following him in a Recreational Vehicle (RV).
“A typical day would look like this,” he explained. “I get up at 6am, I will stuff my face with bananas and protein shakes before starting. I will do 15 km, then the RV will catch up to me for my breakfast, and then do another 15 km. After a small break, the RV will go on and my final stage will be a 20 km run,” he said.
“The talking is over. Let the running and mind games begin. Maybe I will reach New York and decide to run all the way back to Los Angeles! Now that would be something special!” said Dr. Ashill.
By Sheena Amos