Fiona's extraordinary World Record attempt - in a cow suit

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» Fiona's extraordinary World Record attempt - in a cow suit

Fiona Oakes, vegan and holder of three Guinness World Records for distance running, has her sights on a fourth: seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents - wearing a cow suit.

Fiona, who is an Ambassador of The Vegan Society, is attempting this remarkable feat to raise awareness of veganism. "I want to show non-vegans what can be done on a vegan diet, that's my objective. I'll be wearing the cow suit to highlight all animal cruelty, including that of the dairy industry," she said.

As a vegan runner, Fiona is in good company. There is a rich history of highly successful professional athletes on plant-based diets, including Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis and multiple ultramarathon champion Scott Jurek.

Fiona, on the other hand, is an amateur athlete, and dedicates her time to running Tower Hill Stables, an animal sanctuary in Asheldham in Essex, where she personally cares for 400 animals. She wakes at 3:30am seven days per week, works throughout the day then trains at night.

She said: "I'm dreading being away from the sanctuary for so long, but I want to do this. It's not about times, results, trophies or thrills - I feel I owe it to those animals who don't live here, who I can't help directly."

Her hardest challenge yet, known as the Triple 7 Quest, will begin in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday 8 February and end in Antarctica on Saturday 14 February. In between, she will compete in organised, accredited races in Abu Dhabi, Paris, Tunisia, New York and Punta Arenas in Chile over a gruelling seven day period.

Conditions could vary enormously. Melbourne can reach 35°c in February, while temperatures are highly unpredictable in Antarctica, where it can drop to -20°c after factoring in wind chill. With only basic rations of plant-based expedition food and energy bars, Fiona flies to Melbourne on 4 February. Showering and sleeping between races will take place on flights.

"It's not really the distance that's the problem, it's the jet-lag," Fiona said. "I'll have to judge my pace perfectly. I can't go too quickly, but I want to be the fastest. And I need to make the flights I'm booked on!"

What makes Fiona's achievements all the more impressive is her recovery from serious injury. She lost her right kneecap as a teenager to a degenerative disease, and significantly damaged the other. She was advised at the time that she may have difficulties walking but, through sheer grit and determination, recovered to complete over 30 marathons.

Fiona set a world record at the North Pole Marathon in -28°c - the worst conditions in the race's history - and recorded both the fastest elapsed and aggregate times by a female for seven marathons on seven continents plus the North Pole. No one has managed it in seven consecutive days in organised races before, at least not until this Valentine's Day.

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