Fiona Oakes: Marathon Runner
Although she’s been bestowed with the title “Queen of the Extreme,” vegan marathon runner Fiona Oakes has remained determinedly modest about her incredible athletic feats.
After completing and breaking records in more than 50 marathons and ultra-marathons, she confessed to us that she hasn’t kept track of any of her medals and trophies and has no interest in cutting newspaper articles out that discuss her accomplishments. “I would never say to people: ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’–it’s not something that I’m predisposed to shout about. I don’t think I’m very special at all, to be honest,” Oakes said.
Many would disagree.
Hailing from the UK, Oakes became vegan at the age of six, explain-ing it was a “natural progression from being a vegetarian” and she made the switch as soon as she was able to make the conscious decision. She started running competitively over a decade ago, and since then has continuously blown her competition away. In 2013, she broke three marathon world records—all certified by Guinness— and is the fastest female to run a marathon on each continent, something she achieved in less than 24 hours. She is also one of only 800 female fire-fighters in the country and manages her own sanctuary, Tower Hill Stables, with 400 resident animals.
She is known for venturing to some of the most extreme locations on the planet to participate in the toughest endurance marathons, like the Volcano Marathon in Chile’s Atacama desert (a 150-mile ultramarathon run at altitudes of 14,600 feet) and the equally challenging Marathon des Sables where competitors run six marathons in six days through the Sahara Desert.
“If you do want a top tip to losing weight, I would have to say enter the Marathon des Sables. I lost 6 kilos in one week running it, but this is rather extreme as it is 155 miles in the harshest desert conditions you can imagine, crossing the toughest terrain carrying a backpack with all your supplies, weighing around 12 kilograms,” said Oakes.
Oakes says there’s no denying that her vegan lifestyle has greatly benefited her athletic performance, and she says she fully encourages any budding athlete to adopt a vegan diet. She finds that her habits help her stay fit. “Due to my lifestyle it is impossible, as I never know what I am going to be doing or where I am going to be from one minute to the next. I only actually eat when I am hungry and when I do it tends to be nuts, fresh fruit, rice, pulses and bread. I do not spend too long analyzing my diet. I know what works for me but that might not suit everyone.”
Health and wellness benefits aside, Oakes says the biggest benefit that’s come from veganism for her is that, “I do not carry the burden of guilt that I would have to endure knowing that I abused others for my own ‘benefit’.”
This attitude is reflected in her work at her sanctuary, Tower Hill Stables.
“My philosophy is that I am privileged to be able to care for my animals, I do not regard them as my property. I do not attach a financial value to any of them. I try to allow them to interact with each other, where appropriate, in as natural environment as possible with me being there as the ‘overseer and caregiver.’”