In June 2022 Nick Ashill went back to America to complete his goal of running across it. Nick was tragically struck down by a lorry whilst trying to complete this in 2017. After being told he would never walk again, Nick completed the rest of his run across America this year. Nick was kept company by two of amazing men, Jim McCord, and Paul Wheeler, who made sure he was safe along the way. They kindly told us in their own words about their post-adventure thoughts and feelings.
The 21 days crewing for Nick were the most inspiring days of my life. Nick struggled with the mileage. That daily mileage would have been easy for Nick five years ago. He averaged more mileage per day in 2017 than he did these 21 days. However, the 16 operations on Nick’s body changed his body. I don’t know any other person who’d have finished this run, under those conditions, other than Nick. There’s no quit in Nick Ashill! One of the surgeons who operated on Nick 5 years ago said something I’ll never forget. I told him it must be wonderful to operate on people and see this type of life-changing recovery, to which he said “No one I’ve operated on has had the incredible recovery Nick has had. No one. ” I’m blessed to have witnessed those 21 days.
Returning to reality has been hard. I greatly miss my two brothers (Jim and Paul) and our conversations. They are and continue to be very special people in my life. The run was challenging physically and this was hard for me to acknowledge at first. My body is different now. But I am proud that it able to run 972km in 19 running days. Sometimes slow and painful, but I kept moving forward. My daughters supported me every day with their messages and calls. I got to learn so much more about the hit and run and the nature of my injuries on this trip. Much of it was emotionally painful to hear. I had no idea that the best outcome surgeons hoped for was aided short distance walking. I will never forget day 1 and the gathering at the hospital. I was able to say thank you to so many incredible surgeons, physiotherapists and nurses. Not easy to say without tears. Life at the moment after returning home feels empty. I have more time given that the extensive training has stopped. I am still processing the achievement and I have forgiven the person who changed my life. I have found my peace. I continue to talk to my mum who lost her battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2015. I know she would be proud. I hope I have been able to play a role of raising more awareness of this horrible disease.
Being part of Nicks support crew will forever be embedded in my mind. A magical, wonderful month full of lifelong memories. From helping Nick with anything from filming, taking pictures, feeding him, making sure he had plenty of fluids to icing his knees to running with him everyday are all memories that I will cherish forever. Some days were brutal. They were long, hard and never ending, almost to the point where all of us doubted whether this dream was actually possible, but we were forgetting one thing….Nick is superhuman, his endurance levels are astonishing, his never say die attitude, along with his stubbornness, are what drove him to the finish line at Coney Island. Nick truly is a remarkable man who I’m proud to call a friend.