HER Story: How Fiona Oakes ran a marathon on every continent - even Antarctica

By Kristen Stephenson, Published 26 March 2018

Women’s History Month is an annual celebration in March that highlights the contributions of women to events in history, as well as their outstanding landmark achievements.

At Guinness World Records, we have seen our female record holders reach remarkable milestones, so to mark Women's History Month we're running a series called "HER Story." 

We've spoken to some of these women about their records and their lives, to help celebrate their achievements and inspire others.

We continue the series with Fiona Oakes, a determined vegan marathon competitor who decided to take her passion for running to every continent on the planet.

Who is Fiona Oakes?

In 2013, British athlete Fiona Oakes began her record-breaking journey to completing in a marathon on every continent.

Despite losing a kneecap from an illness she had at 17, this didn't stop the 44-year-old from taking on marathon challenges in weather conditions that even the best runners would avoid.

She stunned the world when she accomplished the Fastest aggregate time to complete a marathon on each continent and the North Pole (female) - and simultaneously the Fastest Antarctic Ice Marathon (female) and Fastest time to complete a marathon on each continent and the North Pole (female).

Fiona’s passion has led her to run marathons that have taken place at the earth’s extremes, such as South American volcanos and polar ice caps, but she's also spent her time doing admirable charity work – such as housing 400 animals at Tower Hills Stables Animal Sanctuary.

Her distinct ability to overcome the odds and show generous philanthropy make her an exemplary woman in the world of record-breaking.

On becoming a female record holder

"Breaking my record titles brought with it a plethora of emotions - from relief, pride, exhilaration, satisfaction and excitement. It felt like I was walking on air and I could finally relax and reflect on what I had achieved with all pressure of expectation and anticipation lifted from my shoulders. It is a truly life-changing and enhancing experience which I have carried with me ever since. 

"Many women from around the world have written to me expressing their admiration and awe at my achievements, not only from a physical but mental perspective too. The strength of body and mind is required to take on such a challenge. But most notably, the motives behind me tackling the records and the determination it took to see it through have all struck a chord with women from every continent.

"For some, the fact I achieved such a monumentally demanding physical challenge on a life-long, plant-based diet, using my achievements to promote my vegan lifestyle, have been particularly inspiring. 

"For others, the fact I did it with a disability and against all physical odds offers great encouragement. Many just find the logistical complications and demands of running marathons on every continent and the North Pole motivational. 

"Without a doubt, crossing the finish line of the Antarctic Ice Marathon in first place and breaking three Guinness World Records titles has been my proudest moment so far. 

"My record-breaking journey has not been easy though, as I carry an injury from my teenage years.

"After multiple surgeries, I was told I would be left with a permanent disability, rendering me incapable of competing in impact sports. So when it came to running and winning extreme marathons on every continent – I knew it was incomprehensible, but not impossible. 

"In the future I hope to be a role model for women everywhere, and use the platform that Guinness World Records has given me to show that whatever their circumstances, their background, their physical stature, no hurdles are insurmountable if they believe in themselves.

"My advice to women thinking of a similar challenge is to go for it, seize the moment and follow your dreams - they can, and will, become a reality if you believe in yourself.

"I can tell you first hand, there is no sweeter moment than when you achieve your goals, no reward greater than that moment of being on top of the world."

Originally Posted By Guinness World Record

Fiona Oakes