The 50km race in Thailand, which was part of the The North Face endurance series, was somewhat of a departure for Ixel who tends to favor 100km.
Breaking the finishing tape first in 4:33:07, Ixel led at each of the four checkpoints. Only nine of the 433 finishers finished within an hour of the flying vegan Australian, and dozens more started but didn’t manage to finish the course.
“I have done seven 100k races in my short running career,” Ixel told Great Vegan Athletes. “I was lucky to win six of them and finish third in one of them to make the 100km distance my most successful distance.
“Even though it’s my favorite, it’s a very painful distance – most 100km races are won in 12-plus hours, which is a demanding amount of time for someone to push themselves.
“The recovery and build up for races this long do take a lot of time. As a person who loves competing, when I usually race 30-40 races a year, those 100km races mean that I will be able to race a lot less, so for the past two years I have been sticking with races up to 50km.”
This particular race was challenging due to its nearly 1,000 meters of height gain.
“Every year the course gets harder and more technical,” Ixel revealed. “This year the course was a lot harder than previous years, and I really enjoyed it.
“Trail running is very unpredictable – I have lost races due to getting lost in the last few kilometers, so I never think about the win or the finish line until I see the finishing tape.”
A master of multiple sports
This victory serves as another reminder that Ixel, who went vegan in 2012, is a world-class athlete, having broken into Triathlon recently. Last year, he reached #1 ranking in his age group globally after some impressing performances over half Ironman distance.
This year has seen the athlete return to the trails, where it seems that the more challenging the terrain, the better he does.
“Right after Thailand I went to New Zealand for another 50km race where I finished in second place, and two days ago I did a 28km trail race in Hong Kong – where I ended up finishing fourth after getting lost 4km from the finish line,” he said.
“I will be racing another 54km trail race this weekend and there are a lot of trail races planned for this year.”
Ixel credited his vegan diet with powering this punishing schedule so effectively. “I really like racing,” he said.
“I really struggle to go with two-three weeks of no racing, and my body allows me to recover fast after each race, so I can keep racing almost every week where most runners do five-six races a year.
“This has a lot to do with my diet and showing other runners the improved recovery on a plant-based vegan diet. I have seen many runners make the switch to a vegan diet in the past few years and they are all recovering faster and performing better.”