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Fiona Oakes, vegan ultramarathon runner for Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary



Fiona Oakes, an ultramarathon runner, vegan since she was a child, now rescues animals from the slaughterhouses and runs Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary where she provides a home to more then 500 animals. To raise funds, Fiona Oakes runs marathons. She is the fastest woman in the world to run a marathon on all continents and the North Pole. She holds 4 marathon World records. Veggie Channel team went to visit her in the Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary. In this video Fiona talks about her rescued cows, horses, pigs and other animals.
 
Fiona Oakes and Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary
 
"I've always done small-scale rescue. I had a few chickens, I had a few cats, I had horses at Livery yards or farms. In 1996 one of the horses had a bad accident. I nearly lost him. It was due to the farmer that I was keeping the horses out. He allowed people to go into the field and shoot. My horse Oscar, he became impaled on a fence, he ripped his hind quarter out, terrible barbed wire injury and we nearly lost him. At that point we said: we can't continue doing this. We can't continue spending all our money giving it to someone else to just not look after the animals properly basically. 
 
That's when we went all out to try and buy a small place with some land the maximum we could afford to do the rescue. That's when we bought the other site the Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary, which was literally just an equestrian property, a few acres of land and a bungalow. And from there on it started to expand. The idea was always that I would stay at home and look after the animals and Martin go to work to pay for it. It's just grown from there 25 years on or whatever and here we are expanding still. 
 
It is a big job. It's just discipline. I wouldn't suggest that somebody could just be plunked down here and do it. But he's grown with me very organically. I've always been an early riser, but I have to get up at half past 3:00 in the morning. That's the way I manage here. 
 
The most important thing is actually passing on this information of sustainability, educating people. I don't really want that it have to be a sanctuary. I don't want to run a sanctuary. I don't want the to be a need for a sanctuary to exist but there is at the moment. Education is the way forward. Letting people come in and interact individually with the animals and learn these animals do have personality. Because we've got one step in the door. People accept that dogs and cats are part of their family. I want to just extend that and push the barrier back and say: what's the difference between a cow and a pig and a sheep? They're all part of our global family". 
 
Do you sometimes feel obliged to run this marathons just because you need to get visibility for the sanctuary?
 
"I'm not the best person to be running at all because I was told that I would never walk properly again. Let alone run after these multiple surgeries on my knees as a teenager. People say: “Why did you take up running then?” I'd already come from a cycling background, because cycling was continuous motion with no impact. And the only reason I thought about running was because I realized soon after getting the sanctuary that I couldn't rescue all the animals. We need to stop the need for them to be rescued, we need to address that issue. 
 
I wanted to do something back in the early nineties and the only thing I could think of was the sport. And there was no interest in women's sport whatsoever. But in the UK, there was quite a lot of interest in Marathon running because of Paula Radcliffe. So it was literally I was thinking to myself: I better get good at Marathon running. I kind of realize that you would need to invest a lot of energy in it and I'm thinking that actually it's free advertising for the sanctuary and positive advertising for veganism. So it's kind of a double win. If I can kind of sacrifice and put myself out to do it. 
 
I don't actually love running. I have to say. I don't enjoy it particularly. I enjoy the fact that I can run or kind of hop, or limp, or whatever it is, as I do. I don't enjoy the fact of the training. I've got to go a hundred miles and I've got fit sessions in here and there and everywhere but... I think I'm probably more inspired the most to do it because I've got a very tangible reason to be out there, other than like a trophy or a Garmin or a time or something like that. There's actually a bigger reason for me to be doing it".
 
This is a video of the web-tv Veggie Channel.
 
Director: Massimo Leopardi
Editor: Julia Ovchinnikova

Clicca qui per la versione italiana
 

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