Fiona Oakes has made great achievements in her running, which seem all the more impressive given her incredibly full lifestyle. This means that training competes with a number of other demands on her time and energy.
Fiona has worked as a retained firefighter, a job which meant she was often on call and needed to be ready to react quickly. An enormous long term commitment is working long hours on a sanctuary she runs almost singlehandedly. Fiona cares for 400 animals including horses, pigs, sheep and dogs. She also fundraises for the sanctuary, for which the food bill is over £5000 per month, and for other animal issues. Typical working days start before dawn and end around 8pm on her sanctuary in Essex, UK.
- Course records at marathons including the North Pole and Antarctic Ice marathons
- Top ten finishes at major world marathons
- Two-time completer of Marathon des Sables
Fiona somehow manages to make more time during the day to fit in a training run. Fiona stopped eating meat at age 6 and became vegan as a teenager.
Her personal best for marathon is 2:38:00, and some career highlights include:
- National cycling titles (before changing to marathon running)
- 5th place in the Florence Marathon
- 17th place in the Berlin Marathon
- 8th place in Amsterdam Marathon
- 1st place in 2007 Halstead Marathon, in which she broke the Essex County Champion Course Record (which had stood for 9 years) by 11 minutes. Press coverage was excellent, including pictures of Fiona receiving the award in her Vegan Runners vest.
- In June 2010 Fiona won the Rovaniemi (Finland) marathon, and in doing so set a Guinness world women’s record for the fastest marathon ever inside the arctic circle.
- 10th place in Moscow
- 22nd place in London
- Fiona won the 2011 Great North Run half marathon (Masses Race)
- Winning the Levi International Marathon (Finland) in a course record of 2.58 in
September 2011 – beating the old course record by 22 minutes. This was while wearing a backpack for training reasons.
- In 2011 Fiona entered the tough Dartmoor Marathon in training for a future event. She carried weight as part of her training, but still won the event by over 14 minutes.
- Fiona has completed the 2012 Marathon des Sables, a 156 mile event across the sand dunes and rough terrain of the Sahara Desert. She faced extreme temperatures of 51 Centigrade and suffered a broken foot days before the race began. Early on another entrant collapsed so Fiona dragged her to safety. See more on this amazing performance here.
- In 2013 She took on the North Pole Marathon, in temperatures of -28 Centigrade. She completed the event, won the women’s race, came third to two male competitors and broke the women’s course record by an amazing 45 minutes. Read more about her event here.
- Later that year she became the fastest woman ever to complete a marathon on all continents plus the North Pole. She also set the Guinness world record for the shortest aggregate time for those runs.
- As part of that marathon series she set the course record for the Antarctic Ice Marathon.
- In 2014 she also attempted the Marathon des Sables again.
- In July 2014 she ran the Rio marathon and in doing so broke two of her own Guinness world records (read more here).
- During October and November 2014 she ran seven marathons in seven consecutive days, finishing with an emphatic win (read more here).
- In February 2015 she took on the challenge of running a marathon a day for seven days – each on a different continent (read more here).
- In April 2017 she completed her third Marathon des Sables (read more here).
Fiona was a finalist in Vegan Athlete of the Year 2014.
Her globe-trotting world record is shown in this video.
Vegan for the animals
Fiona’s commitment to veganism is part of her moral commitment to animals.
“Turning vegan was a natural progression from vegetarianism and I did it as soon as I was able to make a conscious decision.”
“I honestly believe that the most benefit to me being vegan 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’. “
“I like to encourage people to think about veganism in a positive way.”
This has been key to her motivation.
“I try to break down stereotypes and myths attached to veganism by my actions. I am one of only 800 female fire-fighters in the UK – a job which people don’t expect to see a female doing, let alone a vegan one. I run endurance events, a thing which people don’t think you can do if you are a ‘weak vegan’.”
banner image credit: the fiona oakes foundation