Himalaya: Listen. Learn. Grow.
Investigating Vegan Life With Patricia Kathleen
Today I am speaking with Fiona Oakes. Fiona has been vegan since the age of 6 years old. She is a World Record-breaking Marathon runner currently holding 4 Guinness World Records including being the fastest woman to run a Marathon on every Continent and the North Pole in both days and time elapsed. She is an Elite road Marathoner having top 20 places in 2 of the World's Major Marathons - London and Berlin and the Great North Run - along with many Marathon wins and course records around the world. She is also an accomplished ultra runner having completed Marathon des Sables 3 times winning stages of some of the most grueling multi-stage ultra events in the world - all this despite a disability which Medical Professionals advised would render her incapable of running at all due to multiple orthopedic surgeries in her teenage years. She is co-founder of the Vegan Runners - now a global resource for all plant-based athletes and 'go-to' destination for anyone interested in combining plant-based living with running events. She is an Honorary Patron of the Vegan Society, Patron of Freedom for Animals. Fiona is the Founder of her own animal sanctuary Towerhill Stables, where she currently cares for over 600 rescued animals. This series features conversations I conducted with individuals who have dedicated their work and lives to Vegan research, businesses, art, and society. This podcast series is hosted by Patricia Kathleen and Wilde Agency Media.TRANSCRIPTION*Please note, this is an automated transcription please excuse any typos or errors[00:00:00] In this episode, I had the rare opportunity to speak with founder of Tower Hill Stables, Animal Rescue and Sanctuary and co-founder of the Vegan runners Fiona Oakes. Key points addressed were Fiona's title of four Guinness World Records in distance running, including being the fastest woman to run a marathon on every continent and the North Pole, and how this endeavor was merely the vehicle to carry her true life's work of rescuing animals and expanding positive imagery about the Vegan lifestyle and philosophy. Stay tuned for my talk with Fiona. [00:00:44] My name is Patricia Kathleen, and this series features interviews and conversations I conduct with experts from food and fashion to tech and agriculture, from medicine and science to health and humanitarian arenas. The dialog captured here is part of our ongoing effort to host transparent and honest rhetoric. For those of you who, like myself, find great value in hearing the expertize and opinions of individuals who have dedicated their work and lives to their ideals. If you're enjoying these podcasts, be sure to check out our subsequent series that dove deep into specific areas such as founders and entrepreneurs. Fasting and roundtable topics they can be found on our Web site. Patricia Kathleen dot COM, where you can also join our newsletter. You can also subscribe to all of our series on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Podbean and YouTube. Thanks for listening. Now let's start the conversation. [00:01:40] Hi, everyone, and welcome back. I'm your host, Patricia. And today I'm elated to be sitting down with Fiona Oakes. [00:01:47] Fiona is the co-founder of the Vegan Runners and she is the founder of Tower Hill Stables. Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. You can find out more. [00:02:02] Hi, Fiona. We're so excited to have you on today. Fantastic. We have a little bit of a time delay, but we're gonna get through that for everyone listening. I'll read a quick bio on it. Absolutely. For everyone listening, I'm going to read a quick bio on Fiona. [00:02:19] But before that, I'm going to proffer you a quick roadmap for today's podcast. You can follow the trajectory in which our inquiries will be based. We will first look at unpacking Phiona's Vegan story and her life becoming a prolific marathon runner. We'll look at some of her childhood before we launch straight into her marathon running and ultra running career, distinct between our draw distinctions between marathons versus ultramarathons. The reasons why Fiona has been running them. And then we're going to look at some of the particulars within those communities being a Vegan athlete as they pertain to Phiona's story. We'll look at injuries. We'll look at running world records, breaking everything that she has done. And then we'll also unpack. We'll turn our efforts towards looking at a brief overview of the documentary. It was based on Fiona running for good. And then we'll start unpacking the work that she's doing at Tower Hill Stable, which is an impetus for a lot of her work. And we'll wrap everything up with goals and advice that Fiona may have for those of you who are looking to get involved or kind of follow her. A brief bio, as promised on Fiona. Fiona Oakes has been Vegan since the age of six years old. She is a world record breaking marathon runner, currently holding four Guinness World Records, including being the fastest woman to run a marathon on every continent and the North Pole in both days and time elapsed. She is an eat elite road marathon marathoner, having top 20 places in two of the world's major marathons, London and Berlin and the Great North run, along with many marathon winds and course records around the world. She is also an accomplished ultra runner, having completed the marathon, their seventh three time winning stages of some of the most grueling multi-stage ultra events in the world. All this despite a disability which medical professionals advised would render her incapable of running at all due to multiple orthopedic surgeries in her teenage years. She's a co-founder of the Vegan Runners, now a global resource for all plant based athletes and a go to destination for anyone interested in combining plant based living with running events. She is an ordinary pay honorary patron of the Vegan Society, Patron of Freedom for Animals. Fiona is the founder of her own animal sanctuary. Tower Hill Stables, where she currently cares for over 600 rescued animals. Again, you can find out more on w w w dot. Tower Hill Stables dot org. Fiona. Before I begin unpacking a little bit about your running story and your Vegan story within that, I'm hoping that you can draw us. The story about becoming Vegan at the age of six is in and of itself rare. And you had a very unique childhood. I'm wondering if you can. [00:05:19] Yeah, I mean, I went to the Vegan when I was six years old. I didn't understand the word Viðga and I have to say I've never heard of it. I understand its principle behind it. [00:05:30] If you love something, you don't harm it. I loved animals. I didn't want to hurt them. I went vegetarian when I was three years old. Simple equation. I don't want to eat the flesh of animals. And as the years went by, I asked my mom, you know what? Why do these other products come from? Where does the letter come from? Where the eggs come from? We never really have milk in the house. And I'm very lucky in that my mom was honest with me and she told me the truth. It was a big thing at the time. This is in the early 1970s. We were lucky in that my mom had a role model, intensive music teacher that taught my mom when she was a child. She was actually a Vegan lady that a new Donelle. What's in the founders of Egen Society in the UK? My mom was kept in touch with them because my mom was a musician. So she was able to articulate to my mom in adult terms what I was going through with trials. It wasn't an easy path for us. Not my parents. You know, parents and my family were vegetarian. Viðga, not even particular big animal Lafitte's. I have to say. And I was very lucky to have the support of my mom. When I went to the hospital and had my surgeries in my teenage years, it was wasn't very, very difficult. Times may in terms of a I was in in plaster, cast a lot on crutches for about three years on and off. But more than that. Veganism was aligned to an eating disorder. And my mom was accused multiple times of child abuse for allowing me to be taken, which was a very, very bad thing because my mom at the time was a nurse. And so obviously she was working in the hospital and it came out, you know, the daughter was following this, what they call a weird diet. And it was very, very difficult time. I got through that, but I missed most of my education. I then went to also study privately to get some sort of qualifications behind me. I was going to be secretary and I came to London to work and. But it was always in my heart. I wanted to be around animals and it was always a dream to start an animal sanctuary. I never thought that dream would ever become a reality. In fact, people write to me now and say, you know, how do we get an animal sanctuary? And I had to say, be creative. Grab every opportunity. Can. There's no kind of set formula. You know, a must be will see. You got a sanctuary. To me, it happened by accident. I was doing a lot rescued from a rented accommodation that was living in and working in London. One of the horses I got a from had an accident. He was taken to the vet. It was 13 weeks. And at that point we decided we can no longer continue with this model, which was basically giving all the people all our money to cast the animals in a way that we didn't find satisfactory. So while I was at the vet having surgery rates we set about. [00:08:24] Try to trying to get and get trying to get a property with some land, which wasn't easy to live quite near to London. It was a major struggle. I still don't know how it happened. I mean, I always joke and say at the time, my mom was always a great support. She probably got more mortgages in some time, that building society at the time. She'd like borrowed money, my family money. I've got a great aunt who is 98 years old and she got her funeral money under her bed in a and that came out to I to try and get and probably try and get the animal safe. And twenty five years ago, we managed to get a small property, which is Talil Stables. We didn't set it up as a sanctuary or a business or anything like that. It was a place of sanctuary for the animals I'd already rescued and it started from there. But after a few years, probably a couple of three years, I realized. I know I can rescue animals, I can rescue 40 active, rescue 400 animals, but I can't stop the cause of why they're needing rescue, uncomfortably hitting symptoms. I need to do something positive to promote veganism, because if the world were more more vegan friendly or more people were Vegan a plant based, then less animals would go through the factory farming train and hopefully the balance would be tipped at some point and veganism would become the norm. But back in the early notice, it was a struggle. How do you do this? [00:09:50] You know, there was no you know, for younger people, they forget they don't really know what time before social media, before you could just put something on Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook. It was hard. You have to use the mainstream media and press you probably to do that. You have to do something bad, something good, or something very sensationalistic. Well, the only thing that I could think of was to do something good. Always been quite sporty. I was supposed to be for my surgeries. It put an end to my running my network my whole career. When I was in Oxford, up in cycling, because that was continuous motion, like strengthening. So I knew that I was. But, you know, the only sport, especially women's sport, that was garnering any attention in the U.K. was marrison winning that for all the hashtags attached to it because Paula Radcliffe was selling and kind of it was being billed as the toughest thing in athletic event on the calendar. It was grueling if you could do a marista. And he was punishing April. All right. So mentally and physically. So I kind of thought to myself, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could just come PTM and hopefully complete a Morrisson to show definitively that being Vegan is not prohibitive in any way to this most kind of extreme endurance sport. So that's kind of how the marathon running started purely to promote veganism. I didn't do it for any other reason. I still don't run for any other reason than to do that. [00:11:22] Yeah, I think that's one of the most. I've never heard of another distance runner that doesn't talk about this. This rush or this high or this other emotive. [00:11:31] This other physical pay-out that running does. And it is using it as a soul for a force of marketing is really unique. I'm wondering, when you started off, you already had your sanctuary, correct? When you started marathon running, it was to get word and promote word out about veganism. Let's really quickly, I kind of want to get on to Tower Hill Stables because you don't run it a lot of sanctuaries, at least in the United States. I'm not sure about UK, but they have a business model behind them. They lead Torvill. Is it all donation based? How is it based? [00:12:08] Well, actually, when we started it, it was all off funding. We put money into it. And I always said that I could never look anyone in the eye and take their money unless I could very well say I was 100 percent invested in my own sanctuary, financially, physically, mentally, spiritually. I'm giving everything. I've got 100 percent on the line if you want to help me. That's great. And we still put all our own money into it. I work part time as a firefighter. I would say merchant banking for many, many years. My parents live with us all that pensions go into it. And people support the sanctuary. You know, in the membership, you know, that they join and they give regular donations. They fundraise for us. But it's kind of it was it stopped. Everything I've done, it's been kind of starts from gut instinct and the heart with the head kind of adding little bits along the way. So it's not it's not a business model. There isn't a business plan behind anything I've done. When I started running, I didn't think, you know, by year one, I want to do this. By year three, I want a world record. I had to be creative and I've gone with the flow. It's kind of organic and it's grown with me. And yeah, the mogul behind Tower Hill is still it's a very much it's not a business. It's a play. [00:13:27] It's a home forever home. So the animals. So we'll go I've got 600. I still deliver the day care. It's the way I can do it through continuity. I like to be very, very hands on here, even though I didn't do a lot of mileage with my running. And it's hung to them. It's not a business. It's not a it's not like a petting play store. It's very much geared around them. They I always said, you know, it's not kind of a fun place for me to be if I'm having fun. [00:13:58] There's something wrong. They're the ones that supposed to be having fun. Ananda The supposed to be providing it for them with me, overseeing it, making sure they've got everything that they need, which is a big project in itself. I mean, 600 animals. I haven't got like six on tiny little hamsters. I've got like 150 pigs. I've got 110 horses. I've got like sixty six cows. I've got over a hundred sheep sheets. I've got a lot bigger animals. So just project managing everything that they need to be where and when they need it. It's a big ask, but it's something I do. It's just from the heart. I love it. I can't imagine not being here for the animals. And the running is always very secondary to running the sanctuary. And I think that's been a great move. Probably my greatest motivator with my running. It's been lack of time. If I don't go out and do it when I get a small window around the animals, I can't find tools. So I'm kind of never got much time to think about or running. I'm just flat out back back into the wellies and back outside doing the sanctuary. And that's what I wanted to portray in the film. I'm very much an amateur amateur running boxing way above my weight when I actually get to races. And I think obviously I've been Vegan for a very, very long time, nearly five decades. And one of my strengths. Some people ask me what my strengths are. My strengths probably is that I know very little, but I always want to learn more. So I don't put myself on a pedestal and think, you know, I am Vegan Svengali. I know everything I've done. I mean, I'm always learning more and more and more whether is sanctuary about my running or my own personal abilities and inhibitive. So when I, I always yeah, I do everything from the heart and go in saying I never really have much time to think about what I'm doing. In fact, when Keegan came and made the documentary and started to ask questions, I had to really delve inside myself for answers because I'd never really stopped to think why I'm doing this. It just feels right. The time grabby go on with it. That's that's how I thought to be, because, you know, veganism over the last few years, it's kind of exploded. But it's been a very, very long, hard struggle for me. And there's been no road levels in terms of what I want to achieve. So I've had to go and set the benchmarks for myself. But, yeah, so it's it's a constant, constant struggle. But it's a long day. I mean, people ask you, how can you see only perhaps three in the morning? I've told you know, it's it's it's three decades I've been doing that. It's the only way I can get done what I need to do in a day. So as I say, you have to be creative if you want to do something. And there's real desire, motive behind what you do. And I believe you can do it. And with my running, I'm always very keen to tell people. I know I have no talent. That is where my strength is. I know that I'm going to have to work very, very hard to achieve what I want. To do the motive is the better I can run, the better. I can do the job I'm out to do, which is promote veganism in a positive way. Obviously, the faster you can run, if you can win races, the top place in races, that's the incentive to get to the finish line quicker. For me, not a trophy or a medal or Keagan came and it's like, where are all your medals? Where all your trophies? I don't know, because when I get home, that's that's the running back door. I'm back out with the animals. I hope that the the the achievement so the results speak for themselves. But I'm not I'm not a big person to talk about what I've done, particularly because I always want to do more. And it's always a great leveler to see that, you know, 70 billion animals go through the animal agricultural industry every year. I've got six hundred rescues here, which is a tiny fraction of what I want to achieve. And, you know, whether people choose to go Vegan or not, we are pushing for that. We're pushing for a better world, for a fairer, more just Woelfel. But it's slow progress. So whatever the animals are suffering while other people are suffering, while ever the zone distribution of resources around the world, I figure that I haven't got an awful lot time or need to sit back and congratulate myself because my job isn't done yet. [00:18:25] So I'm wondering, you use your body, as you know, in your endeavors, this activity, the sport, you know, you're using it as the ultimate marketing campaign. [00:18:35] And and because of that, you know, you just said you didn't you had to go back inside and think as the documentary was being filmed. You hadn't had a lot of answers. You were the answer. You know, you were showing people that this this sport could be done by someone living a Vegan lifestyle. And you want to draw attention to Vegan issues and efforts. And I'm wondering when people did approach you along the way. First of all, when you ran your first race, how did you train for it? Did you have a coach? A lot of really intense distance runners have coaches that they're involved with and they come with. How did that all work? [00:19:14] OK. When I started to think about marrison winning, I thought, I mean, there was no resource on the Internet. So I mean that, you know, it was early notice there was nothing you could not Google Google search, you know. So three hour marathon training program or anything like that. So I started by kind of finding a local short distance race, you know, like a half marathon, seeing if I could do that. And I did. And I won eight an OK. Well, marrison running. I was under the very, very silly misconception that a marathon with two 1/2 marathons back to back. How wrong could I be? No, I heard all these kind of spurious told that a marathon begins at 20 miles. No, no, no. It's like thirteen point one mile. That's halfway through Miles. No, not it's completely wrong. And Marathon really does begin at twenty miles up to that point. You just on cruise control, the last thing, the way you can suffer. So honestly, I learned by trial and error by winning a few local show distance races. I had attracted some attention regarding coaching, but the deal breaker was the veganism. Nobody wanted to coach Vegan isolate. Nobody wanted to waste that time with me. So as I explained, promoting veganism is the only reason I'm out there. So it's it's a deal breaker tonight to take the next level in tomorrow's ceremony was quite a hard decision for me because I realize that the training was going to be so much more specific and time consuming, basically, than for short distance races. You can block your way through a 10K and a half marathon. You can't do it through a marathon. I started off like with trial and error, lots of trials, loss. I was just thinking I could do lots of miles and I would get quicker by doing lots of math. You will get on by running lots of distance, but you won't get a whole lot faster until you do specific speed work. So I kind of looked at what all the people were doing and I formulated my own idea. I realize that you've probably got to do two or three speed sessions a week. That was difficult to me. I did look at joining a local running club, want to say locally quite some distance away. And that speed session was not going to see it because it was done on the track. And I can't when the benefits, that money is too bad. So I have to do my speed, work on a treadmill. I always have done and I always do on it. Some people are a bit sniffy about treadmill work, but that's how I have to do it. And the only thing I do say is on the positive side of treadmills, they don't lie to you. They run at the speed that, you know, they're running out. So, you know, you kind of get a good kind of judge away wrap. But I just formulated my own way and it was all going to be had to be hard pressed to me. So nine sessions a week, three speed sessions with recovery runs longer mid weight on the Hill sessions and a very long run on Sunday. I think the one thing about me that I'm very robust in terms is physically very strong. And I can take the training. And I think that's a testament to my plant based lifestyle. Over two decades, I still put out the results for Cubby. Hey, I was representing my country for Half-Marathon and 10K and Chip to do very well in my race in the South. And so I've got a wide, wide range of events I can do. And I've never had a running injury. I've had injuries which have impacted my running and indeed my knee. It does bother me when I run. When I started running on road marathons at about 20 miles, the continuous motion, the pounding of one stride length was very, very painful. But I realized quickly if I stopped running the pain stop. [00:23:02] So I realized once it damaged myself, it was just if I could write to the mental barrier of pain, I did. It was Paula Radcliffe that I once listened to and she said, You do not want to go to the start line of any race, least of all a marathon, knowing that you are carrying an injury. I've never been to the start line of any race knowing that I'm not carrying one, but I don't focus on it. I put it behind me, a place on the elite staff. I'm not making excuses for money. I was told I wouldn't work properly. I do live when I run. I didn't realize how much I lived till I saw the film. But I know I'm I'm there on my own merits. I don't want to make excuses. And I started with the Daily Road races purely because it was some time effective for me to Big Morison's a year, autumn and and spring. You literally probably spend four months how training three weeks cycling and go and hit them hard. And it was always I could probably not do that every local race or county race that was on the calendar. But I just wanted something more than that. I wanted to be able to in one soundbite say. A polite place overall in the Amsterdam marrison drunk, a world class race, was also financially very, very struggling because obviously I've got 600 mouths to feed, so mine is better off than the last one I'm actually considering. So being invited to races was cost effective. It wasn't costing me anything to go. It was a strange, bizarre kind of juxtaposition. I mean, I'm literally miss amateur runner, you know, bumming around the house, looking for my trainers and my thoughts and whatever. And then you're on a flight to a race you picked up by a chauffeur driven car. You taken to the elite hotel and you find yourself in a technical meeting with Heilig Guy. So I think it's like, whoa, what's going on here? But it's really it was never planned. I never really thought about it too much. I've never had any problem motivating myself to run because the end goal is always that I want to be the best representative I can. So the animals and for veganism. And if one person sees what I'm doing and he's interested or wants more information or can be convinced that it can be done, then that's my job done. So, yeah, I use the running. [00:25:27] I mean, I kind of watch how it's gonna be and it's gonna be time consuming to do what I'm doing. It's gonna be really, really hard to run a hundred miles a week, but it's free advertising for the animal sanctuary in terms of people say, you know, hey, what do you do? You know, I run an animal sanctuary. That's great. And also later, after a couple years, it was literally to promote veganism because I haven't actually thought about the potential of starting a dedicated Vegan running clip that came about in 2004 when I got my first elite star in a major marathon that was London. And the guy that I was running with live in. The only kind of running club that had any connection with the reason I was out there was the vegetarian cycling and athletics. And Vader actually said to me, you know, hey, you know, you do realize that you're going to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the best runners in the world. You're going to be going up forty five minutes ahead of the main field. You're going to be you a handful of women, and you're going to have the streets of London to yourself. And the crowds are going to say, well, I'm not. Let's start a vague and running plot. They need to see that word. And it was that simple connection. And, you know, people see you in the elite club just so they know you're a good runner. You don't have to tell people you're a good runner. They know you while you do that with the best. And if you're literally a billboard going through London on private roads with a camera on you, you know, the BBC or whatever, filming it with this big investor, what what could be better? A positive advertising. Can you have to the call if you're out there doing. So that's when we start to Vegan run us back in 2004. And people do ask me, you know, what is your proudest moment within running? And I have to say. I think our big surprise it's being that co-founder of Vegan run is because now I mean, when we started it, I was pretty much the only Vegan in the village in terms of running. Now we've got thousands of members worldwide going out and doing this job. So it's so much more effective than just one first, me doing it. And to be part of that at the beginning does make me, you know, enormously proud of my my fellow Vegan, my fellow Vegan athletes on the job that doing being ambassadors for what we all believe in. [00:27:40] What do you think? On to that same vein. In that same light. What do you think the most major impact has been for this thing that came? [00:27:48] Was it the shoe deal was at the drop of the documentary? Was it cofounding Vegan runners that you saw a significant shift, both sociological and financial, that you kind of contributed towards the Vegan effort? Was there any moment over the past decade and a half that you saw this? This thing that I did really shifted it? Was it when you were in the Guinness World Records? Was it obtaining that for the cause for the industry, all of that stuff? [00:28:16] Yeah, I mean, actually, it's quite controversial in terms of the way veganism has actually moved over the last certainly decade, five years, perhaps Vegan run has grown steadily through membership. That started in 2004. But what I actually found along the way is that I got quite a lot of media interest for what I was doing, but the focus was never on the Vegan part of it. You know, so you might get, you know, the big national newspaper, The Daily Mail, you know, kind of helping you most inspirational woman of the year. So you run off, you buy 50 copies of the newspaper. You know, we do that in ten or eleven and you reading through and, you know, this amazing woman is run across desert and she's done all this to the animals. And you think it's not mentioned the fact that I'm Vegan. And even when I broke the world's records, I had a kind of a newspaper deal that when I came back, you know, I kind of said, look, I'm not spread. One will record. I've broken three, you know, it's story. And eventually they explained to me, look, we've made an error. It was coming up to Christmas. And there were two major supermarkets, Aldi and little, that were trying to break into the kind of luxury market, you know, like Tesco and Science and Waitrose in the U.K. And they were doing a lot of advertising, really, really pushing advertising at the time. And he said, you know, we can't, like, contradict what they're advertising of turkeys and exotic foods by promoting inside our newspaper veganism in such kind of, you know, work out that way because they pay all, they pay our wages, the advertisers pay our wages. [00:29:54] And it's always been a real struggle to get people to talk about veganism. And I know hopefully is asked about. I was doing the London Marathon and I had the BBC sports correspondent came up to the sanctuary to film me before the race rights and actually challenged him with this. And he said it's basically open until about 2015, 2016. Veganism was aligned with terrorism because a lot of activism was illegal activism, and so they weren't going to promote it. So up until that point, it was really, really difficult and I didn't really know why. So I'm not doing anything. You know, I'm just going out there and hitting the road. How can you top 20 places with a real amateur runner? And I've got this disability, but I think after about 2016. [00:30:44] Truthfully might be a bit controversial. Now I know she's the real big shift in the Vegan movement. It went to a little bit more plant based and I it's quite well recorded and documented that I was actually filmed for the game changes. So James Wilkes came out in 2013 and filmed wait for this idea. He'd had to make a film about veganism and went back to Hollywoods. And it was it went on hold. You couldn't get the fundraising then back in 2015. He got the fundraising from the Avatar Foundation. James Cameron put money in and he wrote to me and said, Hey, Fjellner, want to come back with Louis Savoy us and we want to film you Sanctuary because you are basically the foremost Viðga athlete that I want in this film. And they came out and they filmed over two or three days only running film with the animals still running up to Morrisson to solve little time. And they went way over that year. I detected a change at kind of a shift in terms of veganism. The diet was becoming more credible, but not the ethic behind it. It was shifted to more plant based. And I think that I was dropped from the film because it looked a bit of a ridiculous juxtaposition that you got athletes on, that you haven't been Vegan that long. And we're talking about performance spikes and benefits of veganism. And I was coming it from a completely different angle to saying I'm vegan because it's the right thing. It just right is wrong time animals. And it was kind of a bit too much of that sense for me. KEAGAN Labor unions. Good. [00:32:27] That was kind of kind of. [00:32:30] A pivotal point in, you know, a lot of people became aware of me rich role did the narrative for it. So that helped. And I'm quite low paying, you know, to say what I've done. I don't push myself. I'm not a celebrity. Instagram tried several. I don't particularly want any recognition for myself. Fiona, I only want recognition for the animals and justice. So I'm not somebody who wants to push themselves forward, particularly because I've got my feet on the ground. And I know that what I've done, although it seems enormous to a lot of people for my my own reasoning, I haven't done enough. And I want to do more. Also, I think that a lot of people kind of felt a bit threatened by me because a lot of people are talking a rhetoric, but they have to kind of walk the walk. I haven't got the credentials and I've got like eons of credential. There were many, many years. And I think that they failed in some way negates what they're doing, which is which is not at all, you know, not what I'm thinking. You know, I just want to encourage people to to be vague and not to I don't want to sell them anything. I don't want to. Is stopping me a little bit. You know, the game changes. It was hitting. It's an audience that they felt that they got to sell them something. But, you know, you're going to feel better. You're going to feel great. You're going to have this massive performance by and it's kind of a testament to human beings that they always want a return for. What they're doing was returned return to me. It's just knowing that what I'm doing and it's the right thing and it's not harming others. [00:34:07] Yeah, my father used to always say, you don't do the right thing to get in to heaven. You do the right thing to do the right thing. It in itself is the reason. And I think that that's crucial. [00:34:19] You're kind of hitting on a very interesting point that this series has unearthed and really looked at it, particularly from people across all different industries that we've been speaking with. And it's this conversation that's blown up over the past five years. And it's it's fueled by marketing and money and Hollywood, as you are now bringing up. I did notice that you weren't attached to game changers and wondered why, because you are such this, your history and your legacy. I understand the the rebuking of the personal fame and things like that, but it does need a body to be hosted on. And we've chose you've chosen that body as you and your running, you know. And so within that, you have kind of risen through the ranks as a name that gets tossed around a great deal about these prolific athletes that are Vegan and carrying the word about veganism through places like sports where people just thought it couldn't exist. [00:35:10] And I'm curious where you personally, if someone who didn't know anything about any of this industry was talking with you tomorrow and said wouldn't plant based in being Vegan, what how would you quickly discern that for that? [00:35:26] Well, plan based is about what you eat. Veganism is the reason behind what you eat, and it's everything in your life. It's the S8. I mean, for instance, could you be plump based and wear leather shoes, you know? Is it just about your food and you? Or is it about the animals and the wider picture and the environment and other human beings suffer because of your food choices? You know what I mean? Yes, me. Veganism is the food. [00:35:58] The diet is it's just one tiny part of it. It's the it's the ethical sounds about justice for all that's most important. And people are a bit shocked when they you know, they learn about what what how, i.e., I eat like I've always eaten, which is very bright. Basically, I go to a lot of these athletes forums and they're all trying to sell protein powders. And they sat in the other I don't have any of those things. I don't endorse any of those things because it would be a lie to say that I do use them. I have a very, very basic lifestyle. I eat fresh vegetables, i.e. whole grains. I eat, you know, not siy beans, chickpeas. And I have to think very, very carefully about the cost of my food because I have got this massive burden of responsibility caring for the animals. And I would rather see than me, the myself, the and I only one meal a day as well, which people find extraordinary. But since May it suits my lifestyle and happy with that. I don't try to tell the people what to do and how to do it. It's their choices of how they live. That's me. And I'm not top of my list of priorities. When I don't think much about myself, I genuinely don't. [00:37:20] I think I get the greatest fulfillment is helping others, and that's honestly the troops. It's not a natural reaction to me to want to walk Kammerer. I felt when I went to Hollywood thoughtful. The film premieres when it's good. Rich Well came up to me and congratulated me on the film and said, Oh my God, it's amazing and you're incredible and what you think to it. I said, No, no, I'm saying it. Yeah. And he kind of looks at you haven't seen the film. And I said no because like, who wants to watch itself on a screen, you know? I mean, I don't know. So it made me kind of dragging me down to the front of the auditorium to watch it. And I'm kind of hiding out. I've got to look decent. Yeah. I mean, the desert, you know, it's got all the gear on, you know, the scenery and everything. And the first thing I see is this little kind of crazy moto figure limping out the desert. I look like crazy, but I've got to go right big backpack on. And I say, oh my God, I really love what I run. And I know it looks good when I run into races and people come promoted to news that, hey, you feel right. I've seen your film. Yeah. You know, I was in it and there's like, you know, I thought it was you because I noticed you were limping when you were. Well, you really. Oh yeah. But, you know, I yeah. I mean them to me, the you know, the greatest achievement is that people have seen what I've done and say, you know, hey, I can do that. And I can just mean within the Vegan. So I mean within the disability as well. You know, a lady wrote to me last week coming on social media on Instagram, she said, I've had two surgeries on my patellar and I've now been told that I've got to have it removed and that I will not be able to run or continue with cross country that she did. I will wear a brace for the rest of my life and somebody directed it towards what really good said. I'm right. Thank you. I don't expect you right back. Is there any hope on I said, you know, that's exactly what I was told you got thirty odd years ago and I hope I can inspire you to you know, nothing is written, you know, nothing is written. You can you can write your own book if you choose to sell it. That's that's what I can hope I can inspire others to do. And, you know, if people do want to, you know, are doubtful about Vegan, it's a you know, and I remember once I went to a race now it was a big, big intercounty championship and it was a marathon on a train for it. And my mom would come with me and she was standing with them. The people were handing out the prizes. The lady my risk was there and the race organizers and they said, oh, who you want to forge that? I'm raising my daughter. And this is a really real tough cause. I don't think anybody's ever beaten three hours on this cause it's like ninety. And they said, you know what, you know what time she looking for. And my mom was desperate to say she's not looking for a time. She's looking to win because, you know, winning is what she wants to do for the animals. And I came out to say China was winning. I've broken three hours. And the lady, my rest, when she presented me with the prizes, she said, oh, my gosh. [00:40:19] She said, I was talking to your mother. And, you know, you've been Vegan said ages, years and years and years. My daughter wants. Vegetarian and I was reluctant to allow it to. I was worried about a growing process, whether it be detrimental. But seeing you at your age thriving, that I've got no issues with it now. So I hope that that's the kind of role model I can offer in terms of the fight. You know, if you're interested, what you're going to be like in 10, 20, 30 is to be plump based or are you going to whatever then look at me because I'm still thriving. I was due to go back to my roots in salt. It's the fourth time I say representing my country on the road, you know, and I'm healthy. I mean, I don't take any medications. I don't take any supplements. I still try, you know, like today I did a three hour room with an eight kilogram backpack and KG White's on my hands. And I look after all the animals and I still am a firefighter. [00:41:11] Amazing. I want to get into it for everyone listening who doesn't have a background really quickly so that they know what we're talking about. The marathon disserves is really quickly a quick description. [00:41:22] I scrubbed from the Internet. It's a six day, 251 kilim kilometer ultra marathon, which is approximately the distance of six regular marathons. The longest single stage is ninety one kilometers long. [00:41:34] This multiday race is held every year in southern Morocco, obviously not this year in the Sahara Desert. It has been regarded as the toughest foot race on Earth. And indeed, as a documentary cited, you're required to purchase funeral insurance prior to entering the race because people have died on it. [00:41:54] I'm curious first. My first thought was because it didn't capture any footage among your colleagues and fellow runners. What kind of rhetoric do you have before races, particularly on one like this, where you were in a tent with, you know, several other runners? Does anyone ever talk to you about your diet? [00:42:11] Does anyone ever get into, you know, veganism or how relations with other runners or did they kind of like, let you be? [00:42:21] Yeah, no, I mean, the first time I did in 2012, veganism was enough, people weren't aware of the word Vegan is little what he wasn't. I remember you literally turn out and you find you take it into the desert a military vehicles and you find 10 very often in the dark. It's late night and you find a place to put your sleeping bag. And that's where you will be for the eight days that you that so you wake up and you kind of me. I probably don't even get to know him the night before. And so the first year with I, you know, some of my guys walking around say, oh, my God, you know, you think you've got about ten. We've got like an Irishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman, an Englishman and a Vegan woman. And it's kind of, you know, you have to kind of convince them that way. Is the bigger woman that was actually. Bethany, if you're running well, if you're strong, if could beat them, they have to kind of look and listen. That year, I had a really, really tough race. In the week before I broke two toes at the animal sanctuary I hosted on them. So I was challenged with either not going to in the cell or going out there with two fractured toes. I elected to go. I had a really, really tough time. It was appalling. By the time the race finished to run alongside, you could see the bones sticking out a little toe. It was it was brutal because, of course, your feet swell in the hay. You get sand in your shoes. It's a really, really tough challenge. But the guys were, you know, took it well because that was the strongest among them. So, you know, they've got to kind of respect you. In 2014, I was in the race and I was riding really, really high in the rankings and top place. But unfortunately, one I templates needed me more than I needed to place in the marathon assailable. He had leukemia and he was on chemotherapy. And by day two, he was wanting to tackle. And I said to him, look, Mike, you know, there are love. I know what this is like. In 2012, I was the first Vegan woman to complete this race. All eyes were on me. I hadn't made a big thing about the fact of fractured toes. It was a tough loss. I was carrying a huge backpack because there was no ethical Vegan like sleeping bags. For me, everything was very, very heavy. I said, I know what you're right. And there are a lot of people around the world looking at you to know that, you know, you've got leukemia. It's not defining what your limitations are. And, you know, tobacco is going to be a really, really bad thing. So if you can get through the next day, which was like 30 or 40 K whatever, it was a long stage you were frightened about. I was frightened about being out there in the Sahara Desert alone in that kind of heat going through the night chemotherapy. I said if no one else will stay with you and you still want to do it all. So we took my rights away and I'll be there at your side. And he came back I and student self into my arms, you know. Each state was taking me about four hours. Was taking him 11 or 12 hours. And he said, does your offer still stands tomorrow? Because I really want to try and do it. And so I mentored him round the long stage. It was very, very tough. He was in a real state. But for me, the running I think the definition of my running is it is compassion over competition, whether that compassion be towards non-human or human animals. It's that's the reason I'm out there. And so in 2017, the guys I shared with I was I didn't have any license as the film or what Keegan was going to show. I mean, a lot people don't realize I'd done the race two, two times before. You did interview someone that's templates. And I was very flattered that one of them did say if you asked them if you had to come back to this godforsaken place, what would you bring? And it was Tafawa, a guy from Kuwait, who actually said to me, except Keegan. I bring Jonah because she just, like, knows everything. Will help everyone. She's funny and I love being around her and I thought that was the very, very great compliment. But, yeah, I mean, you do. I mean, in a race like that, you live very, very close, close proximity with your teammates. You can make or break your race. You don't want to be trudging along saying, you know, I don't want to get back to that goodness awful ten. I'm sharing this, but I've never had that. I've had some really good guys. And even though the experience is particularly brutal, whoever you are in that race, however you're going. It's hard. It takes some very, very dark places. I don't know whether he's just the British or whatever, but we always laugh real. We always want to cue the award invasion and laugh about it, although it's so horrible. You probably don't know why you would be crying. You get through it. It's it's it's a real privilege and a learning curve to be out there. And I think the most appreciated you become when you come back into your civilian world is the resources you turn the tap on and Walter comes out. That's a miracle. You know, you don't think is the Evian or Paria or sparkling or fruit flavored water. And you can drink it because you're so used to being limited and challenge to food. I mean, you carry everything you've got for the whole week. You have to carry from day one on your back. So you pack weighs about eight kilos. It gets lighter as the week goes on because using your food, but you're getting weaker as the week goes on. So everything that's in that pack you appreciate. So I've seen people like trading a piece of toilet paper for a painkiller. You know, it's literally make grown men cry. But it's it's a great leveler. And I think that the main thing you realize is that, you know, at any point in that race, you can put your hand up and say, I've had you know, if I can't go now, I need to go back to the five star hotel. How much is that? Thank you. Some people can't do that. They're living in worse conditions and they've got no hope of ever having anything better. So when you do come home, you cannot allow people to go out that it's a bucket list. You have to Morrisson salt with which you go and take. What is a real living life experience? It can really fulfill you and change your life for the better and a hope that it's still not for me. [00:48:13] Yeah, it sounds like it sounds like by proxy as you've helped to do it for other people. [00:48:18] I'm wondering with cofounding Vegan runners in 2004, what the growth has been said in your bio. [00:48:25] You know, it's become this resource not just for Vegan runners, but Vegan athletes of all kinds. Can you kind of speak to some of the work that you're doing with that? One to three to five years that you're doing with the Vegan runners. [00:48:39] Well, obviously, to grow the club and obviously grow the club through a positive way for veganism, so obviously, especially now with the cockpit. If you've ever been told to get out there to get exercise and of course, I'm saying even now round where I live and I live in Raleigh, more people out running. So to grow the club and set a satellite is obviously as a club we don't meet into. We do meet for an AGM. But what does sit around all over the country? All over the world. So we've got little satellite groups in towns, which is, you know, going out, training together and growing kind of animal local level. It's been a kind