Runners Raise Awareness of Vegan Lifestyle, Environment at 'Ultramarathon'
June 20

Runners Raise Awareness of Vegan Lifestyle, Environment at 'Ultramarathon'
By Edward Damon
[email protected] @BE_EDamon on Twitter
Posted:   06/20/2015 in the Berkshire Eagle Newspaper

PITTSFIELD — Runners from near and far gathered at Pittsfield State Forest on Saturday morning to show their support for the environment, animal rights and the vegan lifestyle.

Roughly 115 people participated in the second annual VeganPower 50k "Ultramarathon" and accompanying 25k race, organized by the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service.

The goals, organizers said, was to foster a community for those on a vegan diet while raising money for an upstate New York animal sanctuary.

Ana Wolf, who founded BURCS with Benn Griffin and her husband, Michael Menard, said the group wants to dispel the myth of a "wimpy" vegan runner.

"These runners are robust, vital and healthy," Wolf said.

Saturday's race was different from others in that all food offerings were vegan-friendly, with no use of animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy.

"Vegan runners often have to ask, 'What can I eat?' Often they have to bring their own food to a race," Wolf explained.

Fueling stations were stocked with water along with bananas, watermelon and slices of potatoes. Afterward, runners could feast on vegan noodle dishes, salad, and vegan pizza from sponsor Baba Louie's in Pittsfield.

Runners in the 50k took off at 7 a.m. for six loops around the forest — for those more familiar with the imperial system, that's 31 miles. The 25k kicked off at about 10 a.m.

Menard had previously organized the Shaker Village 50k. An ultramarathon, he said, is any race beyond a typical marathon, which is 26.2 miles.

Besides distance, an ultramarathon differs in the community, he said, with more "laid back" participants.

"Not everyone is out to win, they're trying to enjoy the day," Menard said.

"It's less about speed, but more about how long you can be on the trail," Wolf said.

Runners in total raised roughly $3,500 through registration fees that will be donated to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, N.Y. The organization "rescues farmed animals, ignites social change to end their exploitation, and champions vegan living," according to its website.
Coming in first place in the 50k with a time of 4 hours, 19 minutes, 41 seconds was Jason Mintz, of Syracuse, N.Y.

"It's not only for a good cause, but everyone participating was very like-minded," he said.
Taking the women's lead at 5:24:11 was Laura Kline of New Paultz, N.Y.

Kline, who is vegan, said the lifestyle is growing in the running world.

"As more and more people show they can be successful on a vegan diet, I definitely see more people making the switch," she said.

Wolf and others spoke about the environmental benefits of a vegan diet — proponents champion veganism as a way to curb climate change by lessening use of resources and reducing the amount of water used in raising livestock.

"Veganism is becoming a household name," Wolf said. "The numbers are growing. The more people are educating about the reality of the world's resources, the more people who are making new lifestyle choices."

For more information on BURCS and future races, visit

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