The Vegan Ironman: Andrew Lilley proves plant power can fuel sporting success | Viva! - The Vegan Charity
The Vegan Ironman: Andrew Lilley uses plant power to fuel sporting success

Vegan athlete, Andrew Lilley, completed the Bolton Ironman to fundraise for Viva! and prove that a vegan diet can power you through even the most challenging sporting events.

Say the word vegan and some people automatically assume you have a severe protein deficiency and must be lacking in energy – but Viva! supporter, Andrew Lilley proved that plant based foods are the best fuel for fitness in the Bolton Ironman on Sunday.

The Ironman consists of a gruelling 2.4 mile swim before a 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run. It is known as one of the most difficult sporting events in the world. 

Despite the enormous challenge, Andrew’s vegan diet allowed him to perform better than 89% of the 1,618 people competing in the Bolton Ironman and beat his own predicted time by 20 minutes, finishing in a total of 12 hours and 9 minutes.

His diet also fuelled him through his 9 months of rigorous training before the race. His daily routine consisted of a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 10 mile run or cycle to work every morning come rain or shine. This is no easy feat before selling delicious vegan food at his London-based pop-up stall alongside his full-time day job, but proving the power of plants is what motivated him to take on the challenge.

Plant-based diet made him top of his game

“The reason I do these events is to prove that plant based foods are the best fuel you can have for sport, fitness, and living a healthy lifestyle.

“This race demonstrated this in its purest form - I overtook around 250 people all in the second part of the race, I was overtaken by only about 5 people in that period - my plant based fuels gave me more energy and more power in the last 6 hours of a 12 hour race than 90% of the people that I was racing against. I finished strong and never once felt as if I would falter,” said Andrew.

Andrew kept his energy levels up throughout the race by eating high energy vegan food to propel him through the race. Flapjacks, pasta, energy gels and drinks powered him up Bolton’s hilly terrain and gave him the energy he needed to push through the exhaustion.

He said this fuel kept him feeling positive and gave him the confidence to increase his speed and test his limits.

“The experience was indescribable; it was wonderful, exhilarating and overwhelming. The feeling of knowing that you still feel strong and can overtake people late on in the race is a powerful one, and I loved the second part of the event really racing seeing my rankings improve.

“The relief of running down the home straight is enormous as only then did I know for sure that I wasn't going to crumble and end up crawling. Ironman is a magnificent event, it is so well organised and it is such a spectacle, to participate in or to watch with bands along the streets all along the route.”

Andrew has managed to raise an amazing £1,922 for Viva! so far meaning all his training and effort will help Viva! continue saving animals and campaigning for a kinder world. If you want to show Andrew your support and help Viva! continue to make a difference, you can donate to his JustGiving here.

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