Written By Chris Taylor
Chris is Operations Manager at Ultra X and takes the lead on planning new races and events. His interests include (and are limited to): ultra running, plant-based foods to eat whilst ultra running, and ultra running with dogs.
The vegan movement within the sporting world has been further bolstered by documentaries such as The Game Changers and From The Ground Up, which feature some of the world’s best plant-based athletes touting the positive impact a vegan diet has had on their success.
Recently, we pondered why veganism seems to be more prolific in ultra runnning than any other sport. Below, we list some of the best known ultra runners that follow a plant-based diet. Leave a comment at the bottom if there are any we’ve missed!
Despite being just 24 years old, Lucy is already somewhat of a household name in the ultra running circuit. She ran her first 100km aged 15, and has since racked up a slew of impressive results, including wins at Ultra-Trail Cape Town and Ultra-Trail Australia, and third place at Western States. She has been vegan 2016 and says: “The biggest benefit I’m noticing is my ability to recover and race and train at a high level. I have a lot of energy.”
Although not solely an ultra runner, Rich is an ultra-endurance machine. He’s previously finished second at Ultraman (which involves a double-marathon run leg) and once did 5 Ironman triathlons in 5 days on 5 different Hawaiian islands. Rich turned vegan when his health took a nosedive at 40, and is now one of the most prominent advocates of a plant-based lifestyle. You can find vegan meal plans in his book, Finding Ultra.
A Swedish ultra runner specialising in multi-stage events, Elisabet has a string of world class performances under her belt, including winning the iconic Marathon des Sables twice. She experimented with her diet for several years before turning vegan for the performance and recovery benefits she experienced.
Helen is a British veterinary surgeon and mountain runner who has represented her country at long distance mountain running numerous times. She won the English and British Fell Running Championships in 2013. Helen turned vegan in 2009 aftrer becoming disillusioned with the way animals are exploited for human gain.
Yassine is an experienced ultra runner with a number of impressice results on his CV, including top ten finishes at Western States 100 and HURT100. He turned vegan in 2008 and feels that energy and recovery rates are positively affected by a plant-based diet: “I felt great inside and out ever since. Honestly I don’t see myself going back.”
Vlad started running in 2012 and turned vegan shortly afterward. The 33-year-old Ukrainian is a North Face athlete and one of the foremost runners in Asia. He’s already won more than 40 ultramarathons in his short career and often sets new course records, including at The North Face 100, which he’s won twice.
Catra has competed in more than 250 ultramarathons, including over a hundred 100 milers. She often wins races outright (beating everyone in both the women’s and men’s fields) and holds the overall record for completing the John Muir Trail twice (a total of 424 miles). She turned vegan to clean up her lifestyle after battling drug addiction for several years.
Tim Van Orden
Tim Van Orden has been crowned US Masters Trail Champion an incredible 10 times and is a four-time US Runner of the Year. He turned vegan in 1998 and became a raw vegan in 2004, excluding all cooked and processed foods. He describes how his diet has had a holistic positive impact on his life in his book, A Compassionate Approach.
Kate is an American athlete who’s been running at an elite level for 15 years. She’s previously won the JFK 50 and UTMB’s MCC. She went plant-based more than 10 years ago and credits veganism for her success: “I felt better and better. Then my performances got better and better and better. I got leaner.”
Damian has been a prominent ultra runner since 2006. He’s won and podiumed at races all over America, yet he considers his greatest achievement to be running injury free for more than 10 years. Damian attributes this impressive feat to his plant-based diet, which he’s been following since 2000.
Alberto Pelaez Serrano
An experienced ultramarathoner, Alberto has several impressive results on his resume, including a three-peat at Ultramarathon of Lanzarote and a top ten finish at UTMB’s CCC. He’s won twelve ultras in total and uses his notoriety to promote veganism in the sport, wearing an “I don’t eat animals” t-shirt on podiums worldwide.
Alister is an ultra runner for the Canadian Mountain Running Team. His best results include smashing the course record at the 100 mile Mont Bremont Ultra Trail in 2017, and finishing in the top twenty at UTMB’s CCC. He turned vegan in 2012 after discovering “the hidden truth of modern farming”.
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