Vegan ultra-runner Austin Meyer took first place at the Zion Ultra 100km (62 mile) race on April 15, finishing in just over 10 hours (10:07:53).
The ultramarathon saw athletes racing around the Zion National Park in Utah, in the shadows of towering sandstone cliffs. Considered a difficult route, only experienced ultra-runners with a half-ultramarathon already under their belt were eligible to compete.
Meyer – a documentary filmmaker and photographer – completed the run with support from both his partner and coach. Upon finishing the race, he took to social media to thank event organizers, and express gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about himself during the run.
Ultra-running as a vegan
Discussing his five years as a vegan, Meyer notes that it is now fundamental to his training. Moreover, it plays a crucial part in everything he does before, during, and after a race.
“On the physical side, ultrarunning is a very demanding sport. Training becomes a cycle of physical stress and recovery, the quality of which are the variables that determine how much I can grow and improve as an athlete,” Meyer told Plant Based News.
“Eating a plant-based whole foods diet has allowed me to increase physical stress in training, and simultaneously, recover faster. This is due in part to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the food, which lead to reduced muscle damage.”
In recent years, the fitness and health benefits of plant-based nutrition have become more widely understood. If animal protein was once considered the only option for serious contenders, a slew of vegan athletes now challenge the misconception, many of whom seek to crush outmoded stereotypes.
Finding a higher purpose
For Meyer, his veganism also unlocked his discovery of a purpose. He claims that ending animal exploitation is his calling and that as an athlete, he represents an alternative viewpoint that can help achieve this.
“In a world where billions of animals are killed for food every year, and billions of marketing dollars are poured into campaigns linking the consumption of animal products to masculinity and improved athletic performance, my running provides a counter-narrative – that we can thrive and compete as plant-powered athletes,” he said.
This idea of disrupting the status quo provides extra motivation when a race inevitably starts to get tough, Meyer says. He adds that if his athletic performance changes just one person’s opinion of veganism, that’s enough to keep pushing.
“Ending animal exploitation is my purpose. That purpose fosters motivation. That motivation helps me endure a greater perception of effort. And that leads to better performance,” the Zion 100km winner concluded.