84-year-old vegan runner completes 53km South West Ultra marathon

Read Time:   |  2nd August 2021

Wet and windy weather didn’t stop 84-year-old vegan ultra marathon runner Paul Youd from completing 53km of the SW Coast 2 Coast which crosses England’s South West peninsula

Paul Youd, who is 84 years young, completed the SW Coast 2 Coast Ultra Marathon on Sunday 25th July, raising over £1,000 for vegan charity Viva!.

An active member of the Vegan Runners running club and vocal vegan activist, Paul is tireless in the promotion of the benefits of a vegan mindset. But what keeps him going?

New lockdown skill

With only just over a year of training, Paul went from running circles in his garden during lockdown to even attempting the full 102km over two days.

“It started out as just learning a new skill during the first lockdown,” the 84-year-old vegan runner explained.

“I wanted to be able to join some friends at Parkrun. I took to running so quickly though, that I thought I could join in with some of the at-home challenges other people were doing during that time.

Paul had originally aimed to run 10 kilometres every day for 10 days but ended up catching the running bug and completing an impressive 110k.

“I ended up running 110k and raising over £4,000 for Dean Farm Trust animal sanctuary,” he told Hannah Parry.

Paul’s training for the ultra had included long runs and walks of 25km most days, as well as body weight and strength exercises at home.

“The reason I took to running so readily, was that I was already very strong. I’m completing 1 million push-ups between the ages of 80 and 90, do I do 1,000 push-ups every three days. Plus, I have a kettlebell and a pull-up bar so I can do chin-ups.”

Paul and son Ben braving the weather at the start of the SW Coast 2 Coast

Paul and son Ben braving the weather at the start of the SW Coast 2 Coast

Despite feeling prepared, the weather was far from kind to the 84-year-old vegan runner.

Paul explained: “Just as we started the first climb, the rain started. It was nothing like the beautiful, sunny website photos with stunning views!

“I got my rain poncho out and I was trying to hold it down over my shorts, but the wind kept whipping it up. It was muddy and slippery: the word I have to use is brutal. But there’s no place I would rather have been.”

Ultra running community

The camaraderie of the ultra running community is well known, and the other competitors helped each other, like when Paul lost his glasses and someone caught him up to return them. And that was in addition to the support of the vegan community.

Vegan Runners had another participant in the event, Alex Laska, and Paul explained that his club t-shirt and ‘Vegan AF’ beanie hat drew comments and conversations as the event went on.

Speaking about the camaraderie at the event, Paul said: “At the end of the first day there was an MC with a microphone cheering people on to the finish.

“He called me back to ask my age and then told the crowd: ‘This man is 84 and he’s just told me it was a doddle!’ ”

“That’s when I told him that I was there with my son, and said: ‘I’ve been looking after him for 43 years and now he’s here looking after me.’ ”

The next day a woman told me that she’d heard me and it moved her to tears!”

Paul and son Ben at the finish of the SW Coast 2 Coast

Paul and son Ben at the finish of the SW Coast 2 Coast

Paul Youd’s next challenge

And now Paul is addicted. He and his son Ben are planning another ultra in September this year.

“I feel there’s unfinished business. I’d trained for the whole thing over two days, but I had an old rucksack with a broken strap that I’d tied together.

“The weight was uneven and Ben ended up carrying it for me on the second day. After 17km on the second day he said to me: “ ‘Dad, can you really keep going like this?’ ” and I knew I shouldn’t make him carry my bag to the finish. So I withdrew after 70km.”

What’s Paul’s advice for wannabe ultra-runners? Focus on strength training and plenty of cake!

“My blog has recipes for bread and cakes, all vegan of course,” Paul explained.

Are you feeling inspired by this impressive 84-year-old vegan runner?

Check out our vegan running guide for beginners

Written by

Hannah Parry

Hannah Parry

Hannah Parry is a writer, blogger and vegan runner (as well as scuba diver, organist and aid worker) currently living in Germany. She has travelled the world, run a couple of marathons and seen the realities of the refugee crisis at the edge of the EU.

www.hannahparry.co.uk

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