Updates: Fiona's World Record attempt - seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents
Eager to find out how our amazing ambassador is getting on? Follow her progress below.
Wednesday 18 February, 11:45am
After being informed of the 11 hour wait before being able to try once again to reach Antarctica, Fiona decided to head home. Given all her commitments at the Sanctuary, she simply could not risk landing on St George Island and getting stranded for a week or longer through more bad weather. We agree. She landed back in London late last night.
Completing six marathons in six days on six different continents was a remarkable achievement, and The Vegan Society is enormously proud of Fiona's efforts not only last week but in all her endeavours for animals everywhere. Read Fiona's reflection below.
"What a whirlwind of a couple of weeks. Everything was going fine until the very last flight when we were turned back practically at destination in the early hours of last Saturday morning. Since then there has been no opportunity to fly. I spoke to a pilot who told me the last flight had been able to land on King George Island the previous Wednesday. That's one week ago. Imagine being stranded there that length of time with no showers, toilets, warm tents or restaurants etc, just very basic camping and provisions; a big ask after what we have already been through. I just don't have the luxury of time to be able to risk it. Even if we did get there the plane might not be able to stay on the ground long enough for us to run and come home. If you go, you have to be prepared to stay for what could be a long time.
With Martin's job on the line, 400 animals to care and provide for, my choice was made for me. I have always said they come first and that will always be the case. Funny thing is I don't really believe in omens or superstitions but, for the first time ever and due to the pace, I listened to music while running. The album I have most played is called 666 by Aphrodite's Child!"
Monday 16 February, 9:45am
Given Fiona's fierce determination and unswerving commitment to this World Record attempt, only something out of her control was ever going to jeapardise it. That unfortunately proved to be the case over the weekend. The weather can change dramatically and quickly in Antarctica, and it did precisely that on Saturday morning. Poor visibility caused by dense fog meant that the plane taking the team to St George Island was unable to land, forcing it to turn around and head back to South America. Conditions had not sufficiently cleared by Sunday, so the final leg of the 7/7/7 simply could not be run.
Such an unfortunate turn of events should not diminish Fiona's remarkable achievement of completing six marathons in six exhausting, punishing days. She could not have given any more to her quest, but understandably could not hide her disappointment.
"So near, yet so far. I wanted to do this for the animals, to show solidarity for our friends who suffer in silence and have no voice. I hoped this would give them one. For all those souls who endure the brutality of the human hand every day of their pitiful lives and now, by cruel chance, I cannot do that. For me, it's ok to fail but not to fail for them."
Friday 13 February, 3:50pm
This morning, Fiona touched down in Santiago, Chile, where the coastal town of Punta Arenas (commonly known as the gateway to Antarctica) in Patagonia, Chile, will host the penultimate race. Hugging the Southern Ocean throughout, it is arguably the most pictureseque course of the week but by far the most windy. Not that Fiona will have much opportunity to enjoy her surroundings, having run five marathons in as many days with her linked group. Conditions in New York proved to be some of the trickiest the week, but she and her cohort made it through. Final destination tomorrow is Antarctica, 13 hours ahead of UK time. Return here after the weekend to see how she fared on the final stretch.
"Everyone is feeling the strain now. Just travelling to Australia, United Arab Emirates, France, Africa and North America in five days would be far from ideal for most people, but having to run a marathon while you're there too is pushing the boundaries for anyone !
I had been concerned about the NYC event for a while, having seen all the snow and ice there a few weeks ago. I was concerned whether we would even be able to get there, let alone race. However, race we did, and the linked team made it round the Lincoln's Birthday International Marathon in grand style. Off to the airport to fly down to almost the very bottom of South America for tomorrow's Southern Cross marathon. I was again greeted by the news that there were no vegan meals available on the flight. We have such a long way to go, and I am not just talking about my flight!
Thursday 12 February, 10:55am
From the relative mild of Tunis to the sub-zero temperatures of New York, and the prospect of a marathon route deep in snow. Fiona landed at JFK International airport this morning, and runs again in about four hours' time. Here's what she had to say.
"In New York, cow suit at the ready. CNN filming today. It is cold here, -4 I think, with snow and wind forecast too. Not ideal after four Marathons in four days on four continents in a cow suit! Some people ask 'why the cow suit'? It's to highlight the issue of cruelty to our friends the animals, and those suffering at the hands of the dairy industry. Doing it for them and always will be!"
Wednesday 11 February, 2:20pm
Having finished her fourth marathon this morning, Fiona is now past half way, although it's not been without incident over the past 24 hours. Read below to find out more. New York is next up tomorrow morning.
"After finishing in Paris we headed for Tunisia. We were met by the Governor of Tunis at the airport. This race was a tough one as it was being run with head torches throughout the night and, to be brutally honest, running through the streets of Tunis at 1 am, dressed as a cow, was not what I had in mind when I signed up! However, with the efforts of the past few days starting to show, the linked team finished in around seven hours.
I am physically fine and running well within my usual 3hrs 10min standard marathon pace, but I am working with the other members of the linked team to try and get everyone round. On completion of the race I discovered that my bag, which had to be left in a tent with everyone else's luggage, had been compromised and that my phone charger and iPod had been taken - very upsetting. My partner Martin has shouted out on the Facebook page for anyone in NYC Long Island to help me by bringing me an iPhone 6 charger. Without one, it will be difficult to continue reporting back. Also, it would be very much appreciated if anyone in NYC is available to watch over my luggage while I run. All being well we arrive at JFK at 6:25pm this evening, staying at the Hampton Inn Garden City Hotel. The next race is tomorrow morning at 9 am – wish me luck!"
Tuesday 10 February, 7:15pm
The relentless pace of the 7/7/7 challenge is showing no sign of abating. Nor is the wide variety in climate. After the intense heat of Australia and the UAE, Fiona was greeted with severe cold in France. Yet it did not stop her, or her linked group, from finishing successfully. Next stop: Tunisia, for race four. See Fiona's comments below before she boarded her flight for Tunis.
"The 2°C that greeted us on our arrival in Paris was a shock to the system after the blazing heat of Melbourne and the mere searing heat of Abu Dhabi! No time to sit still, however, as we were immediately dashed off to the start line. Everyone made it round successfully making it three completed marathons in three days. Today was a big challenge logistically as we fly to Tunis in Africa in a few hours' time and will be running that one in the small hours of the morning with head torches. This was the only way we could fit in a marathon on the African continent with the airline routes and times. Following Tunis we head for New York via Rome for the fifth leg of the challenge. I hate being away from the sanctuary for any period of time as I worry about the animals, but it is for the billions of animals I cannot rescue that I am doing this to show people that being vegan is not prohibitive to anything you might want to achieve in the hope that I can sow as many thought seeds as possible to as many people as possible who have not yet made the cruelty free choice."
Tuesday 10 February, 9:55am
Fiona completed marathon number two in Abu Dhabi, once again as part of the group linked together by rope. Race three began just under an hour ago in Paris, after which the logistical difficulties of the 7/7/7 challenge will really start to present themselves - the next marathon starts at 1am tomorrow morning in Tunisia! Little rest for our runner. This is what she had to say:
"The flight from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi was very turbulent and I was unable to get any sleep. While waiting to go through security at the airport, a lady tapped me on the shoulder. She said: "I think I know you, I work at Asda in South Woodham Ferrers!" Talk about a small world. The temperature at the race start was 33°C, a little cooler than in Melbourne but still very hot to be running in a cow suit. The linked team finished in around five and three quarter hours, but there was no time to rest as it was straight off to the airport to get to Paris where the Torcy International Marathon is due to start at 10am, very quickly followed by a flight to Tunis where the next event is taking place at 1 am to fit in with the flight schedules – eek!"
Monday 9 February, 1:55pm
One down, six to go; Fiona's challenge is underway! She crossed the finish line in the stifling heat of Melbourne yesterday, before jetting off to Abu Dhabi a few hours later ahead of race two. It's four hours ahead there, so she will be running right now.
Read below what Fiona had to say upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates this morning. Return here tomorrow to see how she got on.
"The quest started somewhat less smoothly than I had hoped. The taxi service to Heathrow had insisted on an 8:30am pick up, to make a 12:35pm flight, but they eventually agreed on 7:30am. Unfortunately, the M25 was closed and our driver elected to go through central London. I spent all four hours of the cab journey in a state of high stress and we only made it to check-in with just two minutes to spare. My mother was accompanying me to Melbourne and we had planned to arrive a few days before the first race in order to try and rest a little as I have little chance to rest normally with all the rescued animals to see to on a daily basis.
We stopped in Dubai and then continued the trip, arriving in Melbourne very late in the evening of 5 February. Over the next few days I met with some of the other competitors and was also contacted by Bonnie Brown from Animal Liberation Victoria who had just heard about my planned quest.
The temperature in Melbourne was about 35°C and our event was starting at 11:00am. It meant running in the heat of the day – not great at the best of times, but wearing a cow suit over my running gear was not now looking like such a great idea!
I ran the first leg as part of a linked chain of people, hoping to be the first such linked group to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Linked together by lengths of rope we set off at a steady pace. With little time to practice this 'art' it was tricky at first, but we were all delighted to cross the finish line in 5 and a half hours – almost half my usual pace – but this is a special event and the group has a range of people with different marathon abilities and we needed to work together at a pace we could all feel comfortable at.
The lovely Bonnie stayed with my Mother for the whole of the marathon and took some great photos as we all ran round the course in Princes Park.
That evening my Mother departed for home and I set off for Abu Dhabi where the next marathon is being held. Frustratingly, the airline had not got me a vegan meal – despite me having ordered one – and they would not let me bring my pack on board which had my food in it, as they said it was too heavy. The last airline had been OK with it! I had not realised at the point I handed my bag over that there would be no meal for me on the plane, so a 14 hour trip ensued with no vegan meal and a marathon to run at the other end. Nice!"