Mike Freemont, vegan runner

Some athletes cause pause for thought and some are amazing examples of what can be done. Mike Freemont is one who has pushed the boundaries of what is believed possible. He retains world records and a level of astounding fitness level.

At age 99 (in 2021) he still runs regularly. He retains a sharp mind and an enthusiasm for sport, and a will to continue living and enjoying life.

Mike qualified for the Boston Marathon at age 83. He broke national US records for his age category through his 80s where the categories are five years periods. Mike broke world records for single year age categories and ten years on still holds them both. He has run the worlds fastest marathons for those aged 88 and 90.

Shorter distances have also been part of the plan and he’s broken the US mile record for the 95-99 age category. His single year world records at half marathon still stand at age 90 and 91.

He also counts among his achievements “to have continued running now without interruption for 63 years (albeit slower)!”

Mike started off in sport representing Yale University in wrestling from 1940-43. After his wife died in 1958 he took up daily running. He ran the Boston marathon in 1972, the first of 16. Then he became ill.

Vegan

In 1991 Mike was aged 69. “I contracted a cancer which the Cleveland Clinic said would kill me in 3 months unless operated upon. I said no, I was going on a diet! The tumor had metastasized into my lymphatic system and would have required efforts to treat the metastases with radiation and/or chemotherapy (with questionable results in those earlier days). In 2 and a quarter years the tumor began to bleed, I was operated upon.”

“The surgeon looked for metastasis in 35 places and found zero. In other words my Macrobiotic Diet, becoming a Vegan Diet, becoming a whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet, killed the metastases! The results of the diet have been perfect and it has been since that diet that all my world records have come about as well as such distinction in the U.S.”

Mike has a strong belief in the effect of his nutritional approach, and credits it with saving his life. It’s also fuelled his continued success on two feet. He’s also been active in canoeing and has enjoyed long distance events for an incredible sixty years.

He’s completed 14 one day-races of 70 miles. “Ten of these were solo as well as many shorter ones” he says. “I attribute these to the Whole Food Plant Based diet!”

The transformative effect of Mike’s eating is fantastic, and he’s also a man who enjoys his food. All of this is vegan.

“I eat a lot of whole grain bread, rice, oats, other cereals including corn, potatoes sweet and white but no grease. I also eat tofu, onions, greens including kale and chard, carrots, canned beans, fresh vegetables such as asparagus, peas, lentils, string beans, bok choy, mushrooms, oat, hemp and almond ‘milk’, oranges, grapefruit, berries when available, melons, grapes. Occasionally some form of Tofurky as part of a sandwich.”

Variety is not a problem, and Mike has always been keen to try new options. He estimates that cookbooks take up 50 inches of bookshelf space at home!

Still training

The retired engineer has reduced his mileage over the years but at 99 still runs three times every week.

“My route is 5 miles long, through a scenic park near Cincinnati with mixed surface, lots of hills” he says.

“The first mile is at my maximum speed, the other four under pressure to run fast. I resolved at age 98 to run 5 miles rather than 10, but to do it at speed.”

Despite turning vegan in the earlier years of the movement when it was less usual, Mike’s never attracted criticism. And he plans to keep going. He’s aware that he’s provided evidence that eating this way has massive benefits.

“I believe I am helping a major social purpose by continuing to run at advanced age” he reflects. “To help increase our life expectancy and our public health, to greatly reduce global warming. Also to help save simply enormous amounts of money in our national expenses for medical care, food and health, and to increase our life expectancy – which is now 6 years less than the Japanese!”

“My main concern is for our planet: global warming and sustainability. We have a small group seeking ways to improve our international solutions to avoid certain extinction. We meet regularly on this and read profusely. And worry!”

An inspiring figure

Mike is one of the most recognisable runners in the country due to what he’s achieved. He’s also become a close friend of vegan runner Harvey Lewis. Harvey values his friendship with Mike.

“Mike is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. He is one of the funniest people I know” Harvey says. “He’s witty and always making humor of every moment. His greatest desire is to influence human’s diets to change the trajectory of global warming and impact people’s quality of life.

At 99.7 Mike still runs 5 miles 3 times a week, kayaks a couple hours 2 or 3 other days a week and can do 16 pull ups. I’m not sure there is anyone like Mike anywhere else on the planet. After surviving cancer at 68 and being told he had 3 months to live he changed to eating vegan and has lived the healthiest decades of his life since. I once asked him if he’s ever been sick and he said in the past 30+ years I may have gotten a cold once. 

“Mike is amazing! Grateful to know him.”

Mike turns 100 in February 2022. At times when others have struggled to live independently or at all, he’s been more active than many in their prime years. The part played by a Whole Food Plant Based diet has been essential in making these incredible things happen.

Mike’s site

Article in Trail Runner magazine

Interview (video)

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