Juanjo Larrotcha is an ultra distance runner who continues to excel in the most demanding of races well into middle age.
The Spanish runner has taken an incredible 17 overall victories in trail and ultra-trail races. They include a win at the 2017 Nepalese Annapurna 100 km race, which includes over 5500 metres of height gain. In 2021 he travelled to Costa Rica and won the Volcano 100 miles.
He’s also competed at the worldwide top level races. In 2015 he 10th finished overall at the 120 km TDS and in 2016 15th overall at Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc. In 2017 he was 3rd vet and 21st overall at UTMB, and two years later 35th overall and 2nd master. Juanjo has over 50 podium places in Spain and around the world.
Turning vegan in August 2019, Juanjo had been almost vegan for four years. He admits he “broke the rules from time to time” between 2015 and 2019.
“My main motivation to become vegan is related to health, environmental and animal compassion issues” Juanjo told Great Vegan Athletes in 2021. “I’m fully convinced that a vegan world would be a better world in many aspects, so I try to do my bit. This is the end of a personal growth process that involves the way I feed myself and how this nutrition influences my overall health, athletic performance and peace of mind. It is great to know that you are not contributing to animal suffering.”
- In 2015 10th overall at the 120 km TDS
- in 2016 15th overall at Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc
- In 2017 3rd vet and 21st overall at UTMB
- In 2019 35th overall and 2nd master
- 50 podium places in Spain and around the world.
As a vegan he completes an ongoing training plan that involves 120-160 km of running in a typical week, mostly in hilly terrain. He also fits in 2-3 gym sessions per week and some cycling.
Fuelling this is not a problem. “I eat lots of fresh vegetables, legumes, potatoes, fruits, some cereals (rice and oat mainly). Also moderate quantities of nuts, seeds and dried fruits and vegetable protein powder (pea, soy and hemp).”
At age 52 (in 2021) Juanjo has a formidable knowledge of what is required to train for extreme races. In 2016 he stopped using coaches and trained himself, an arrangement which works well. He therefore doesn’t have to include a vegan diet with coaches who may be used to a including animal products. He has complete faith in his research into diet.
“I don’t care about comments of people that criticize veganism with no scientific arguments. There are many scientific studies that recommend vegan diets as perfect even for elite and professional athletes. In my personal experience, I never felt that going vegan was a problem for my athletic performance.”
It’s easy to conclude that he’s been proved right, and it is clear that Juanjo loves his sport and training in the natural world he loves. “I try to be happy and enjoy life with joy through sport, healthy nutrition, emotional balance and gratitude practice.”
Now the plans are – typically for an ultramarathon runner – to keep going.
“As a veteran athlete, my main concern is to enjoy sport and competition as long as possible, trying to live and age healthily. And of course I will try to win as many races as I can!”