Running a busy animal sanctuary would be demanding enough for most of us, but for vegan superwoman Fiona Oakes it is only part of what she aims to contribute.
The multiple world record holder was planning to run several ultra stage runs this year, although she had to drop plans when a nearby farm came up for sale. The property was ideal for the sanctuary and as a new education resource project, although the project has taken time away from the running projects.
“I have trained massive mileage and hardly any speed but I wanted to do something for the animals and to promote veganism” Fiona told Great Vegan Athletes.
“I have run in my cow outfit before and looked at doing a Guinness World Record for the fastest woman in an animal costume over 100km but this is not a recognised Guinness distance so they suggested the half Marathon. I thought I would be sadly lacking in speed – especially in a cow costume – but decided to give it a try and hope that what I had – coupled with massive endurance – might see me through. Sadly I didn’t factor in 20 + mile an hour winds, rain and freezing cold!”
Daylight night run
Fiona picked Tromso Half Marathon in Norway as it complied with Guinness restrictions on verifying distance, proof, photographs and documentation. Cancelled flights, delays and airport fires all played their part, although eventually at 10.30 pm at night in what was supposed to be the midnight sun Fiona stood on the start line – in what turned out to be the midnight storms!
“The cow suit acted like a kite and some points and I feared being whisked off into the Arctic Ocean and ending up as Polar Bear breakfast!” Fiona told us from Tromso airport. “Holding my ears and horns on was another challenge as was the weight of a wet, soggy, freezing cold cow suit clinging to you!”
The record stood at 1:46, which an accomplished runner like Fiona could normally do easily under good conditions – but these conditions were more challenging. Fiona has also broken records relating to running marathons on each continent and even the North Pole. She has the course record for the North and South pole marathons.
A difficult run made more difficult
Resting in the hotel before the race, Fiona was concerned about the toll the weather and the difficult journey would cause. “Knowing I had to run in it later that night dressed as a cow was pretty grim but, like I always say, knowing the 70 billion reasons you are there and trying to give them a voice to be heard, always makes you dig that bit deeper than the rest."
The suit itself was very uncomfortable and this was clearly not going to be an easy novelty record.
“The suit did hamper me considerably and was very uncomfortable but not early as bad as so many animals – human and non human – suffer every single minute of every single day of their horrendous existences gives you no room or reason to complain.”
Fiona finished in 1:32, taking 14 minutes off the old record.
“Initially I think they thought I was there as a bit of a joke but when it became apparent I meant business it went really well and the interest from all concerned was great. So many people came over to me after the event and so many and much support on the course."
So, another entry in the Guinness records, but there’s no time to rest.
“I’m supposed to be running a stage race in the Gobi Desert next month and this is what I have really trained for but with the Sanctuary indecision I can’t bank on getting there as the animals always come first and I may need to be here for the move. We shall see!”
The amazing Fiona would always value your support. You can see how to help here.