A chance to grow
In recent days we have seen Olympians achieve amazing results, personal bests and world record times. The Olympic Games inspire many. Four alternative recent achievements, all vegan endurance events, have inspired me greatly.
My vegan friend Dr Nicola Rooney sent an SMS yesterday that she had completed her mammoth walk, the 630 mile south west coast path from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset. Nikki set off on 21st June, and over 35 of her friends trailed along at different stages. I was one of them, walking the beautiful Devon stretch from Plymouth to Salcombe from 23-25 July (remember, those glorious days?).
Whereas her two other friends and I had several minor injuries impeding our walking, Nikki plodded on undisturbed, regardless of the state some of her toes were in. I was in awe. Her sense of humour kept us going, as well as the pace she set the second afternoon when we had limited time between our wading crossing on the Erme river around 1pm and catching the last ferry before 4pm on the Avon river to Bantham five miles ahead. There was a great sense of relief when the ferry man took us across and we celebrated in a lovely café overlooking the Avon, although we still had about 3 miles to walk to Hope Cove, making it a 10.5 hour day. The last day, for me anyway as Nikki still had nearly two weeks to go, was relatively easy with only 7 miles to go to Salcombe.
Nikki completed this challenge to raise money for a new charity she is starting up, ‘A Chance To Grow’ (www.achancetogrow.co.uk), aimed at “helping hard-working and dedicated young people get the education they deserve and give small grants to community groups to help them build a sustainable future.” Focusing on crop growing, the aims are similar to vegan organisations such as HIPPO (www.hippocharity.org.uk/) and VegFam (www.vegfamcharity.org.uk/).
Nikki at the 425 mile mark
Vegan 3000s Ultra marathon
Another major achievement came from Team Vegan running the Welsh 3000s, 15 peaks over 3000 feet, on Saturday 4th August. An earlier attempt on 16th June had to be cancelled halfway through, as extreme weather had made it impossible to ascend mountains where streams had turned into flooded hillsides. Several people had been at risk of hypothermia that day.
Last Saturday seven people set off for the ultra-marathon in the dark at 04:30am. The weather was poor again with slippery rocks (making Crib Goch in particular a hazardous climb) and wet grass, and although there was not much wind, the fog made visibility very poor at times and caused most participants to get lost on the Glydderau range. Several showers and thunderstorms passed with a persistent cold shower lasting over an hour in the afternoon. I was not convinced it was wise to continue in those dangerous conditions, but the participants were incredibly tough.
At the start at 4.30am
The winner, Roger, ran the 28 miles and 4,000m ascent in just over 13 hours, and three others followed in over 15 hours (losing vital time when going round in circles on the Glydderau range), of which Kate unfortunately had to miss one peak due to a bad ankle. The last person took around 17 hours, and sadly two others had to pull out earlier due to injuries. The runners took advantage of the abundance of vegan snacks, drinks and coffee provided by sponsors and support crew on the day. I was incredibly impressed with what looked like an Olympic achievement by this vegan team.
Kayaking and walking
Another vegan friend recently kayaked over 75 miles (two days and all through the night) on the Cheshire ring canals in her inflatable kayak. She was supported by her dog Flossie and an unnamed person who kept brewing her coffees to keep her going in the cold and wet British summer weather of 30th and 31st of June.
Fiona and Flossie
And finally, vegan friend Vanessa walked and partly ran the ‘Ridgeway 40’ in May, a 40 mile challenge walk along the ancient Ridgeway track between Overton Hill in Wiltshire and Streatley in Berkshire, in 10.5 hour.
I have just been informed that Robert Crussell is running the Ridgeway 85 miles for The Vegan Society because he says our work is inspiring. Please consider sponsoring him at: http://www.justgiving.com/Robert-Crussell.
These are just a few examples I am aware of, although many vegans achieve amazing results in a range of sports all the time. We do not all have to be engaged in extreme vegan sports (nor necessarily do anything outdoors in extreme British weather); however, events like the above do showcase vegan fitness. More stories and pictures can be found at www.extremevegansports.org, and news about the Vegan Welsh 3000s is at: http://www.facebook.com/vegan.welsh.3000s.
I hope you too feel inspired to get active, and perhaps organise a sponsored walk or other interesting activity, and help the vegan cause along the way.
Thank you very much,
Jasmijn de Boo
CEO, The Vegan Society