Running For Good is a feature-length documentary on Amazon Prime that follows Fiona Oakes, an unassuming British woman who sets out to gain a new global record in endurance racing while competing in the “toughest footrace on earth” -Marathon Des Sables, a 250km race through the Sahara. Yes, that’s right, 250km. In the desert. 74 minutes of watching a lady running might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, I wouldn’t have said it was mine either, but it is definitely something everyone should watch.

Oakes is a well-known and well-loved endurance runner in certain circles, and that circle wasn’t one I was even aware of. Over the last few weeks, I’ve picked up the running bug and have been immersing myself in what is dangerously approaching an obsession in the way you do in a new relationship. I was expecting a straight-forward look at an ultra-marathon, full of unattainably fit men who would discuss their training programmes and diets that I could have on in the background while I did some chores. Boy, was I wrong. This was complex and a masterpiece in storytelling. Who knew you could have some many twists and big reveals in a sports documentary?

So not only is she is the fastest woman in the world to run a marathon on all seven continents, including the North Pole, in both cumulative and elapsed time, she also set five course records on the way. The penultimate marathon saw her run across volcanoes in Argentina, where she fell and badly damaged her leg. Yet, she continued to run her final marathon. In Antartica. Despite being told to rest by doctors, and even saying herself that she would take it easy, she set another course record, wading through 26 miles of thigh-high snow and thick ice, it in just 4 hours 20 minutes.

Did I mention that at the age of 14, Fiona was told she may never walk again after developing cancer in her knee? This bombshell is dropped about halfway through, just in case your jaw hadn’t dropped yet. She had 17 operations, including having her kneecap removed. Fiona is driven to overcome such incredible adversity by the need to raise money for her animal sanctuary, Tower Hill, where she cares for some 400 rescued animals, including horses, pigs, and sheep.

It is worth stating here, because she would want us to, that Fiona has been a dedicated vegan for 40 years. That’s not even close to the most remarkable thing about this story.

Fiona Oakes completing an ultramarathon

These are some of the highlights of Fiona’s achievements:

  • Can run a marathon in 2:38
  • In 2010, Fiona won the Rovaniemi marathon in Finland, setting a Guinness world record for the fastest marathon ever inside the arctic circle by a woman
  • Fiona won the 2011 Great North Run half marathon
  • In 2011, she won the Dartmoor Marathon while carrying weights as part of her training but still won the event by over 14 minutes
  • Completed the 2012 Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile event across the Sahara Desert
  • In 2013, came third to two male competitors in the North Pole, and broke the women’s course record by an amazing 45 minutes
  • Hold the record for the fastest woman to run a marathon on all the continents and the North Pole
  • Holds the Antarctic Ice Marathon course record
  • In 2014, she ran seven marathons in seven consecutive days.
Fiona Oakes running the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile race across the Sahara desert
Fiona Oakes in Running for Good, breaking records, raising money, and being a general hero competing in the Marathon des Sables in the Sahara
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