Running for More Than Yourself

Every runner runs for a reason. Many people run to stay in good health. Some run for the dreams of obtaining medals, breaking records or becoming famous. Others run because they’ve been told they will never be able to run again. Hate it or love it, runners around the world are out there putting in the miles. One person in particular runs because it gives her a platform to share what she believes in.

Fiona Oakes has dedicated her entire running career to a cause she is passionate about. She openly admits that she doesn’t enjoy running, but when she discovered she could be good at running she decided to use it for good in the best way she knew how. Since that discovery, Fiona has set four world records—you’ll have to read this slowly to comprehend what they all are.

  • Fastest female to run a marathon on each continent—aggregate time 23 hours 27 minutes 40 seconds
  • Fastest female to run a marathon on each continent plus the North Pole—aggregate time 28 hours 20 minutes 50 seconds
  • Fastest female to run a marathon on each continent plus the North Pole (elapsed time -225 days)
  • Fastest half marathon runner in an animal costume (female)

If Fiona doesn’t enjoy running, then why all the trouble to be so great?

Fiona’s passion is veganism. She runs her own animal sanctuary where she has rescued and nursed hundreds of animals. She is passionate about taking care of all of these creatures and has used running as a means to spread her message.


Fiona Oakes is one of a kind. She decided to run her first marathon in order to prove that vegan athletes could be successful. At the time, both marathons and veganism were relatively novel and under-researched. She decided that if she could run well, veganism would gain more positive publicity as a legitimate and healthy lifestyle.

She excelled. Over the years Fiona Oakes has continued to raise awareness by completing marathons in Antarctica and the North Pole. One of her most impressive races has been the Marathon des Sables. The MdS is a six-day, 156-mile ultramarathon that takes place in the Sahara Desert.

Facing Moral Dilemmas

For anyone working towards a good cause, there comes a time when they must make difficult decisions. The world is not a perfect place and working to make it better is no small task. Any non-profit foundation can probably give you several novels worth of information on the difficulties that have arisen from trying to do good. A simple and well-known example is giving a crying child candy. You want the child to be happy (and to stop crying for heaven’s sake), but you know rewarding bad behavior will not be beneficial in the long run.

Now. Scale that to worldwide, social issues. You want to do good. You want to stop the suffering. But you know that if it isn’t done correctly, it may just add to the problem.

Fiona has faced some of her own moral dilemmas as she has done all she can to promote her causes. When asked about the amount of fuel consumption and pollution created as a result of traveling around the world to try to promote a clean lifestyle, Fiona was ready with her answer. “I needed to find a platform or remain silent.” She was aware of her footprint and made the decision that she must either stay in her own little world or be the voice that she knew how to be, in the way she knew how to.

The moral of this moral dilemma? Do all you can to do good. Consider before you act. Know who and what you are affecting. And in the end, remember that there will be some give and some take.

Running for Good

At the age of 17 Fiona lost a kneecap to an illness. Anyone familiar with knee injuries knows that running can be one of the most painful and difficult things to do when faced with this type of injury. Many “ex-runners” change to something less impacting, such as swimming or cycling. For Fiona, that could never be the case. Her cause was always bigger than herself. She used the biggest platform she could find and worked as hard as she could.

Running for more than yourself can be incredibly motivating when the going gets rough. Consider evaluating all the reasons you run for. There may be sources of strength you have yet to tap into or people you can help, even if you don’t consider yourself a great runner. Fiona suggests, “You never know the impact you are having. Don’t ever underestimate your own impact in whatever you are doing.” You may just be able to be a bigger voice than you realize. 

Why do you run?

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