Rich Roll’s transition to world-recognised athlete started when at 40 he realised his health was being threatened by a poor lifestyle that involved use of alcohol and other drugs, poor diet and inactivity. Unable to climb his stairs, he adopted a whole food vegan diet and began to train.
His objective was to enter an ironman race, which is based on a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and marathon (26.2 mile) run. Unable to secure a place, Rich managed to gain entry to Ultraman 2008, a three day event based on Ironman in which distances are doubled. With only 6 months training he recorded the second fastest swim and finished 11th overall. In later years he returned to record improved performances.
Rich has been vegan since 2006, and was awarded the title of one of 2009’s ’25 Fittest Guys in the World’ by Men’s Fitness Magazine. He is best known for his participation in the Ultraman World Championships, which involves a 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile cycle and 52.4 mile run over 3 days. In 2009 he won the swim and the first day, finishing 7th overall.
In 2017, aged 50, he completed a 52 stage gruelling event which involved running 65 km across hostile terrain and swimming 10 km – across 26 Scandinavian islands (read more here).
- Successful ultraman competitor
- Named as one of the 25 fittest men in the world by Men’s Fitness
- Has undertaken numerous extreme distance events
Rich and his training partner have also completed an amazing series of Ironman day events, completing five Ironman events in less than a week.
Rich has been inventive in his research of food and nutrition and an outspoken supporter of veganism, adopting the ‘Plant Strong!’ tagline. He has released an e-book including inventive recipes, and ‘Finding Ultra’ tells his story of his comeback from unhealthy middle age to elite sports achievement. He’s also released a book of vegan recipes called The Plantpower Way (a portion of Amazon sales goes to help support this website).
Rich has had considerable success with his series of Podcasts which has attracted a range of interesting and successful contributors from the worlds of sport and wellness.
“I have found that I am able to repair my body and recover well from workouts and am able to bounce back fresh day in and day out. Believe me, if I felt like I really needed to eat meat or dairy over the last 3 years, I would have. I just never felt like I really needed to.”
“Ultramarathon legend and plant-strong Scott Jurek claims that his body has become so adept at absorbing his nutrient rich foods that he needs to eat less and operates at a higher efficiency. I can honestly say that I know what he is talking about. And I think he and Carl Lewis (who performed at his peak on a plant-based diet) know what they are talking about.”
If you’ve been inspired by Rich’s story to get your own vegan running shoes on have a look at our FAQs about vegan running resources.
No Meat Athlete is a great running resource Full disclosure: 50% of any book you buy on there goes to support this website but there’s also a ton of free resources there.