Fiona Oakes, the founder of Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary (THS) in Essex, England, is running a total of 500 miles throughout December 2023 to raise money for the care of its animals. More than 500 rescued animals live at the sanctuary she founded in 1993, and this is why she chose this number of miles. She has called her challenge “Miles for Mouths and Smiles” because she not only wants to feed her rescued animals but also spread a little joy. Oakes told Plant Based News, “I am doing a lot of my running in various seasonal themed outfits to give onlookers a smile.” These will include an elf, a snowman, and a cow. People can donate to Miles for Mouths and Smiles on her GoFundMe page, which has already reached over half its £10,000 goal.

Oakes has competed in over 100 marathons and finished in the top 20 in two of the world’s Major Marathon series (Berlin and London), along with winning the Main Start and placing top 20 in the Great North Run. In conjunction with an illustrious road Marathon running career in 2012, Fiona became the first vegan woman to complete the gruelling ‘Marathon de Sables’ — a race she has completed twice more since — and in 2013 won the North Pole Marathon and its “sister” race the Antarctic Ice Marathon.  She now holds four Guinness recognised World Records in endurance events including being the fastest woman to run a Marathon on every Continent. In 2004, she co-founded Vegan Runners.

Oakes told to Vegan FTA, “I’m a realist. I see the magnitude of the problem we’re facing, what have I got to shout about. Animals are suffering, people are suffering, the climate is suffering, the world is suffering, and humanity is suffering. I’m just doing a tiny little bit, trying to make a tiny little bit of a difference. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal. I’ve not got any great talents. Rather than moaning about what I haven’t got and I can’t do, I’m trying to identify what I can do, and going with that.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.