Wellington ultra-marathon runner left for dead on US highway returns to finish his cross-country journey for charity

Left for dead on a US highway, a Wellington ultra-marathon runner has returned to finish his cross-country journey for charity.

Nick Ashill was the victim of a hit-and-run five years ago. No-one has ever been held accountable, but he has a message for the driver of that fateful day.

Ashill has completed more than a marathon a day to finish what he started.

"Ready to have a shower, because I tell you what, I really do smell," he said.

His cross-country run from Los Angeles to New York for charity started in 2017. Just days later, it was over, after he was hit by a ute and left in a ditch.

"Still clearly marked, because the railing has a big dent in it," he said.

Any hopes of finishing the run were dented as well, with his five-year recovery starting by learning to walk again. No-one has ever been held accountable and the case was closed after a year with no clues.

"If I was to confront this individual or if this individual reached out now, I would simply say I forgive you," Ashill said.

Forgiveness is fuelled by a desire to get back to the pavement. Ashill ran for 24 hours around Wellington for Breathe Better September last year. 

That's when he decided he was ready.

"Not many people know this, but that was the point that I really made up my mind that I'm going to book the tickets, get the logistics in place to make it happen," Ashill said.

Ashill and his support team started day one with a 50km run - all for a cause close to his heart.

"My mum lost her life to pulmonary fibrosis in 2015, so raising awareness of this lung disease," Ashill said.

He'll carry that message almost 1000km to the finish-line in New York.