Nick Hancock has fought his way back from the brink to chase down his ambitious running goals at the ABP Newport Wales Marathon.
In just four years, the Abergavenny native has gone from smoking 40 cigarettes a day and taking anti-depressant medication to become a competitive ultra runner. Nick will return to his homeland on April 19 determined to dip under the three hour mark for a new personal best with his family supporting every step.
But if he hadn’t laced up his trainers and set off towards a brighter future, Nick may never have had the opportunity to taste the sweet feeling of finish line success.
“In a nutshell, I was doing this job that demanded an 80 to 100 hour working week in a job that I wasn’t enjoying, and it was getting to the point where I was hardly seeing my wife,” he said.
“My mental health started spiralling in the wrong direction, and it got the point where something had to change. I remember driving home from work at four in the morning and I actually started accelerating towards an oncoming car. I didn’t realise I was doing it. But something told me not to do it.
“The next day I called the doctors and got an appointment pretty quickly. The doctor was very nice, and prescribed me anti depressants.
“At the time I was a heavy smoker as well, and I remember sitting there one day looking at my pack of cigarettes and the box of anti depressants and just thinking ‘what am I doing’.
“I threw them both in the bin and went to Sports Direct because I needed to take drastic action.
I bought a pair of cheap running trainers and went running a couple of times before I made the decision to get away from the job I was doing, it just wasn’t healthy.”
Fast forward four years and Nick is now battling it out with competitive runners over gruelling distances. The flat, fast course through the heart of Newport and the surrounding countryside will give Nick the perfect opportunity to smash his PB.
And Nick has a message for those thinking about breaking down their own physical and mental barriers.
“I’ve done a couple of marathons recently but I wanted to do one in my homeland where my family can come and support me,” he added. “I’ve heard it’s a really fast course as well so I’m targeting that personal best, I’m aiming to dip under the three hour mark and finish in around 2 hours 50 minutes.
“My message to those going through their own struggles, who are thinking about making a big change in their lives would just be – do it, it will change your life. Running has seriously changed my life, to the point now, I run competitively!”
Those keen to make marathon glory their 2020 vision can still register to take part on 19 April, but entries are selling fast. Register for marathon, 10K or family mile at www.newportwalesmarathon.co.uk.