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Running For Good: Why Fiona Oakes is so remarkable

Fiona Oakes is remarkable. At 49 years old, she holds four marathon records (Antarctic Ice Marathon, Ruska Marathon, Dartmoor Vale Marathon and the Essex Championship Marathon), she’s completed over 50 marathons with a personal best of 2 hours 38 minutes, she’s the fastest woman to run a marathon on all 7 continents plus the North Pole (aggregate time and in elapsed days) and in 2013, she became the fastest women in the history of the world to run a marathon on all 7 continents in terms of the total number of hours taken.

Before knowing anything else about her, just from that paragraph, I’m sure you agree that Fiona is outstanding.

But when you also discover that Fiona is missing a knee cap, that’s when you really understand why she’s so remarkable.

Running For Good, released in 2018, documents Fiona’s journey to and during the brutal Marathon Des Sables. Also known as the Marathon of the Sands, the MDS is a gruelling 250km race through the Sahara Desert and is described as being “the toughest race on earth”. To just complete the race isn’t enough for Fiona though, on no. She wants to set a new global record in endurance racing, and if her track record is anything to go by then she’s got a pretty good shot at doing that.

The documentary follows Fiona throughout the entire race, with flashbacks to her life at home with her partner Martin on their animal sanctuary, which provides a new home for around 400 rescued animals. Animals are important to Fiona, as the documentary displays, and she’s been a vegan for her entire adult life. This passion and love for animals is a major takeaway from the documentary, as Fiona explains the struggle in advocating her vegan lifestyle in the mainstream media.

She is living, breathing, running proof that you can live on a vegan diet and be a record breaking runner at the same time; something that a lot of corporations (who are heavily involved in the meat industry) definitely don’t want you to know about.

But at the centre of it all is a woman who has overcome so much and only wants to continue pushing herself to find her next challenge. Watching her arrive in the Sahara with several hundred other runners, the sandstorms, the unforgiving heat, the heavy backpacks and the 250km that lies ahead of them, it’s hard not to wonder why anyone would want to put themselves through that.

But this is Fiona’s challenge, much as your challenge may be to get through your first marathon or run your first ultra. The difference here being that you’re running for extended periods of time in pretty extreme conditions and, in Fiona’s case, missing a vital piece of your bone structure to help you through it.

The documentary is fascinating, with Executive Producer James Cromwell and award-winning director Keegan Kuhn (Cowspiracy, What The Health) coming together to create what is a visually encapsulating look at one woman and her desire to just keep going. And that’s what you find yourself doing, when you’re watching Fiona tape her toe nail back on and when you’re watching her do what she can to keep her running shoes from falling apart — you’re willing her on, urging her to just keep going and to never stop.

Running For Good is my new favourite running doc, featuring one of my new favourite female endurance runners. Fiona Oakes is, unintentionally, an incredible female role model for us all. Her grit and determination to reach new heights, coupled with her love of animals and vegan lifestyle, make her truly remarkable. Running For Good is a must watch for all runners looking for a reason to seek out their next challenge.

Running For Good (Official Trailer)

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A runner sharing her thoughts on everything to do with running.

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