A vegan amateur athlete battled temperatures of -28C to win the women’s race in the North Pole Marathon.
Fiona Oakes, 43, from Asheldham, in Essex, broke the course record for women by 44 minutes, completing the race in 4 hours 53 minutes, despite conditions described as the worst in the marathon’s eight-year history.
She ran the northernmost marathon on earth to raise money for the Vegan Society and to support the 400 animals she personally cares for every day at her Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary.
Fiona was beaten by only two male runners and the second placed woman was 55 minutes behind Fiona’s time.
On her Facebook page after the race Fiona wrote: “Back in Spitsbergen. Job done! It is so cold and brutal in the Arctic I cannot explain. Marathon + Arctic conditions = TOUGH!”
She added: “I knew it was going to be bad but just how bad I couldn’t possibly have prepared for. Not just the consequences of running at -30 with a wind chill but for half the course through deep snow.
“I haven’t got the longest legs in the world and kept falling it was so deep as when you put your foot on it you didn’t know if it was frozen enough to take your weight.
“On one occasion I sank up to my groin, on another I fell on my hand and now have a suspected fractured thumb.
“Never mind, job done, win in the women’s race, new course record and third overall. Can’t ask for any more.”
Fiona, an honorary patron of the Vegan Society, has competed in more than 26 marathons.
She aims to be the first vegan to run a marathon on all seven continents plus the polar ice cap. In November she will take on the Volcano Marathon in the Atacama Desert the week before tackling the Antarctic Marathon, all in aid of the same charities.
Vegan Society chief executive officer, Jasmijn de Boo, said: “I believe that Fiona is a true inspiration to anyone, including runners, women, vegans and non-vegans, and above all, humanity. She shows what the values of dedication, commitment, discipline and staying cheerful in the face of hardship really mean.”