Vegan Runners, a UK running club co-created in 2004 by the vegan athlete and animal sanctuary owner Fiona Oakes, has now logged its millionth parkrun kilometre (621,371.192 miles). The parkrun series is a range of 5-kilometre runs held at over 800 locations, whereby runners compete individually and as part of a club.
Vegan Runners UK is the largest represented club with close to 5000 runners. Recently, the combined membership completed its 200,000th parkrun, passing a total of 1,000,000 combined kilometres. According to the website Great Vegan Athletes, the million kilometres represents 23,696 standard marathons, almost 25 times round the world, 1031 times the LEJOG length of the UK, 221 crossings of the US, and 2.5 million laps of an athletics track.
Vegan Runners UK members range from casual runners to high-profile international runners including Lisa Gawthorne, Fiona Oakes, and Gareth Pritchard. On their website, they state, “The club is run by Vegan Runners for Vegan Runners. We encourage all our members to contribute whatever they can so that our glorious club can continue to thrive. The creativity, love and hard work of our volunteers has made the club what it is today…The club is a non-profit-making company – the income we receive is reinvested in the club to benefit our members and support our goals of promoting a cruelty-free lifestyle to runners and encouraging vegans to take up running. We are also a thriving community which arranges local meetups for training, social activities, races and to support good causes.”
Fiona Oakes said to Vegan FTA in an interview, “I went off and I did my world records. It was very difficult. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I didn’t particularly want to be away from the sanctuary running and I didn’t want to travel that much. Somebody has got to get out there and break down these stereotypes that if you’re vegan you eat lettuce, and you look like you’ve just been drugged up. Somebody’s got to do something. And nobody was doing anything. So, I thought, ‘Okay, if I can, I will.’ That’s how we started Vegan Runners.”