It’s International Women’s Day, #IWD2015!

And here is the second part of my series about inspiring women. In part 1, I covered women rights and the cultural aspect that influences women’s reality. I introduced you to a true leader of the Baroque era, artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

Fast forward to today, we are in the 21st century, and I want to introduce you to my heroine of the second part of the series, Fiona Oakes.

Fiona Oakes is a world-class marathon runner. She holds three Guinness world records as the fastest women to run a marathon on all seven continents aggregate time as well as the fastest woman to run a marathon on all continents plus the North Pole in both aggregate and elapsed time. Additionally, she holds several course records. She is vegan since her childhood. Apart from running marathons across the planet, her day-job is leading Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary, where she cares about 400 rescued and previously unwanted animals, with the support of her partner Martin Morgan.

Fiona is leading by example, focusing completely on what’s the right thing to do; every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Considering animals as what they are, sentient living beings who love to live and who want to avoid pain, Fiona made the connection between animal-based food and the painful situation of farmed animals very early in her childhood. The result: she became a vegan. Imagine this sense of a holistic big picture and the clear articulation of her focus and her dedication already as a child. For me, this connection and the logical consequence to go vegan has taken many more years. Click here to learn more.

On the one hand side, Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary deals with the symptoms of abuse and exploitation by caring about abused and exploited animals. On the other hand side, Fiona has created The Fiona Oakes Foundation to address the root causes. Root causes are, for instance, how people perceive animals differently (to love pets but to consume the meat or the breastmilk of farmed animals), and how people look at the environment (“I cannot change a lot”). Ultimately it’s what we eat. Diets that are rich in animal-based ingredients are a torture for the animals exploited by the animal agriculture industry. This industry is one of the biggest threats to our environment (see facts here) because it is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. Furthermore, animal-based diets are not healthy, as the China Study and the related documentary Forks over Knives proved already years ago.

Fiona has dedicated her life to change the root causes and to help abused and exploited animals wherever she can. She addresses the root causes as a vegan, serves as a role model by showcasing what can be achieved on a vegan diet. High performance is a small word for all her athletic achievements. What makes her an outstanding athlete is her consistent world-class performance year over year: three world records and several course records. Not a single one was a “one-hit-wonder”. Her athletic achievements are always planned precisely. She is very focused on executing her goals. Running 100 miles a week, while caring for about 400 animals is nothing you do between nine and five. She alone knows where she takes the energy to get up at 3:30 am every day. And running is nothing she does to for herself. “It serves the purpose” is her simple statement. She is running for the animals, to raise money for the sanctuary and to prove that world-class performance can be achieved on a vegan diet.

In February 2015, she has taken on another challenge, the 777quest: seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Also here, she delivered seven marathons, in seven days on “only” six continents due to bad weather conditions at Antarctica. Is there anybody out there who wants to question her outstanding performance and dedication?

Fiona Oakes is a 21st century heroine and world-class marathon runner, leading by example to transform the world into a more sustainable and non-violent place

I had the pleasure to meet Fiona and her partner Martin in person last year at the sanctuary. It was so spot on when she said “let me introduce you to our family”. That’s what the animals are, fellow creatures and living beings who deserve to live in peace without pain. She introduced me to the horses, the chickens, the ducks, the pigs and the sheep, the dogs and the cats. Every single animal has either a violent ex-farm history or another background where their owners didn’t take their responsibility seriously. At Tower Hill Stables, peace is a reality. And that’s what Fiona and Martin have created, a paradise for animals. You feel the difference. It’s peaceful, animals are loved for who and what they are, not for what they may “produce” or “do” for humans. Tower Hill Stables is itself a role model for a non-violent world. This is how we all should live together. It’s so beautiful to see that different species can live together in peace.

Fiona works extremely hard without almost no break or pause. In her spare time, she provides posts, updates, and news from the sanctuary to raise money for the animals, and to grow the group of sanctuary members who support the animals on a monthly basis. Furthermore, she is always exploring new ideas to create an even bigger impact for her cause.

“It’s important to follow your heart.
And it’s important to open your heart to the suffering of others.”
Fiona Oakes

That’s what I call servant leadership!
Happy #IWD2015!

P.S.: In case you want to join me in helping Fiona and the animals, click here to learn more about different ways to help: http://www.towerhillstables.com/towerhill-helpingus.htm

 

More about Fiona Oakes:

Fiona’s story:
http://www.fionaoakesfoundation.co.uk/about/

CNN Human to Hero:
http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/04/sport/fiona-oakes-extreme-marathon-runner/index.html

Fiona’s world records:
http://www.fionaoakesfoundation.co.uk/worldrecords/

BBC London Radio Interview:
http://youtu.be/DoVPximPFw8

Fiona Oakes, Ultra Marathon Runner: Mazda Real Challengers, Series 2:
http://youtu.be/c-cjgJURce8