Great North Run – Media Release

Media Release
Issued: 26th September 2010

London Runners make history with Team Vegan at the Great North Run

London runners, Kate Vervain, Chris Dondee, Vanessa Hudson and Andrew Knight made history with ‘Team Vegan’ at Sunday’s Great North Run, the biggest half marathon in the world.

The team of 15, fielded by the Vegan Society and taking part for the first time, became the largest all-vegan team ever to take part in a UK athletics event.

Team Vegan Captain, Fiona Oakes of Essex won the “Women’s Masses” race in 1 hr 20 min 51 sec – the first ever competitor to win the mass race running under the vegan banner.

Despite having had a replacement right knee and crumbled knee-caps, Fiona Oakes finished ahead of former 10K World Champion and Olympic silver medallist, Liz McColgan (1 h 25 m 9 s), six other Elite Women and seven of the Elite Men.

The 14 remaining members of Team Vegan all finished the half marathon, which has a reputation for being tough, in under three hours.

“Fiona and her vegan team-mates have comprehensively smashed those tired myths about veganism” said Amanda Baker of the Vegan Society.

Vanessa Hudson (37) of Bethnal Green has been vegan for 15 years, and has two marathons and three half marathons already under her belt. “The course was definitely a tough one” she said “but it’s fantastic to have finished and know that we’ve each played a small part in making history. The crowds were really supportive and I hope we’ve made some people think again about veganism and what it means. I’d love to think that Team Vegan will take part again next year with even more members and supporters”.

Kate Vervain (33) of Muswell Hill who has been vegan for 20 years, said “I’m honoured to have had the chance to run in a team of such dedicated runners, and the GNR was a great experience. It has encouraged me to do more runs to try to raise awareness for animals and a vegan diet.”

Andrew Knight (40) of Forest Gate said, “The run was a blast. I was surprised by how easy it was! I’d been expecting horror hills based on stories I’d heard but my vegan diet seems to have got me through. I eat stacks of pasta and other carbohydrates – which are ideal for endurance events like this. My favorite part was definitely the fancy dress. I started next to the Pope, and overtook a very burly fairy with tattoos and a pink minidress around the 6 mile mark. I’ll definitely be back!”

High res images available. See images at:

Team Vegan Group Photo:


Notes for Editors:

1. Team Vegan – fifteen vegan amateur runners – and their Great North Run times are: From England: Captain Fiona Oakes (Essex): 1 hr 20 min 51 sec; Andrew Knight (Bristol): 01:37:42 (PB); Chris Dhondee (Lewisham): 02:02:30 (PB); Vanessa Hudson (London / Nottinghamshire) 02:09:36; and Kate Vervain (Muswell Hill): 02:09:48; Regina Jorgenson (Cambridge): 01:58:59 (PB), and Joël Lawson (Winsford) 01:36:39. From the Channel Islands, Terri O’Donoghue (Jersey): 01:45:57. From Wales: Debra Confrey (Cardiff): 02:16:02; Cedric David (Cardiff) 01:39:10; and Helen Watkinson (Cardiff) 02:03:42; from Scotland: Liz Begg (Angus) 01:56:17, Karen Page (Berwickshire) 02:57:58; Clara Macindoe (Aberdeenshire) 02:14:28 and Alison Davie (Midlothian) 01:42:41.

2. The seven Elite Men who ran slower than Fiona Oakes were: John Nuttall (01:22:32), Asker Jeukendrup (01:25:54), Chris Thompson (01:28:47), Craig Mottram (01:28:48), Darren Jakson (01:33:43), Alastair Jones (01:58:21) and Mark McKenna (02:40:47). The seven other Elite Women who ran slower than Fiona Oakes were: Breege Connolly (01:23:01), Lou Noble (01:26:54), Catherine Wilding (01:27:38), Kathryn Gough (01:53:23) Naomi Peck (02:22:43), Sarah Greg (02:26:25 ), Jean Gillespie (01:59:55) and Julie Lister (02:42:16).

3. Fiona Oakes is a Retained Firefighter, and runs a Sanctuary in Essex where she cares daily for four hundred animals. Vegan since 1979, Oakes ran the 2009 London Marathon in under three hours.

4. Founded in 1944, The Vegan Society promotes vegan lifestyles – which exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Registered Charity No. 279228, Company Registration No. 1468880, VAT Registration No. 448 5973 95.

5. The Great North Run took place on Sunday 19 September 2010, between Newcastle and Gateshead. Launched in 1981, The Great North Run is the largest half-marathon in the world, with 54,000 runners expected to start this year.