A vegan athlete has won the Bromont Ultra 80km race - smashing the course record at the same time.
The Bromont hosts races at different lengths - Canadian Alister Gardner achieved a convincing win last year tackling the 160km course - but lined up for the 80km this time around.
Gardner had initially planned to take on the 25km distance. "The Bromont Ultra was not originally on my race calendar as I am training towards Philadelphia marathon in November," he said after the event.
"The plan was to do the 25km race as a 'fun' long run, but I had a feeling I was in good shape to have a crack at a new course record on the 80 km course. So the day before the race I changed my plans."
The course record was eight hours and 21 minutes, a strong pace for any 80km race, but a step above this for the Bromont with an incredible 3,500 metres of height gain. Of course, nobody breaks the course record without winning the race, and the win was far from inevitable for the Canadian vegan.
"I was far from confident of a win in the first 30km," he said. "At the 15km mark, I felt the lead group (about six of us) were going to fast so I eased off to do my own thing.
"Almost immediately I reconsidered that decision as I wondered if the pace could actually be held for the whole race. At around the 35km, I had caught up with first and second place, but wasn't confident of a win until around the 70 km mark."
Coming in first at seven hours and 53 minutes, Gardner took a large chunk off the old course record. He was grateful for good weather conditions.
Fuelling during a race of this distance is crucial, and Fruit2 and Fruit3 energy bars, maple energy gels, and pretzels were essential for the athlete who turned vegan in 2010, after reading about modern farming in a series of articles by The Guardian.
"I was horrified to realize I was being a part of that by buying meat products so I told my wife we had to source only local, 'free range' meat produce," he said.
"Then I read the final article about the abattoir and it stopped me dead - I had never considered it - so when I got home I said that was it, no more meat. It all happened in a week. I tried to source local eggs from neighbours farms and organic cheese (assuming it was more humane) but after two years I knew I was kidding myself and so stopped completely and have never looked back."
Not the only vegan
Gardner was pleased to note that he was not the only vegan taking a course record on the day. Elliot Cardin ran the 55km race and set a course record there too.
The runner felt that between them they had made a point, and told Great Vegan Athletes: "I am stoked to be demonstrating that vegans can dominate in such tough sports."