A LONG-DISTANCE runner who holds four Guinness World Records is set to tackle one of the world’s hardest ultra-marathons in aid of the Maldon animal sanctuary she founded.

Fiona Oakes, 49, started the Tower Hill Animal Stables Sanctuary in 1993. It acts as the safe haven for more than 450 rescued domestic or former farm animals.

Animal-lover and lifelong vegan Fiona takes care of the animals alongside partner Martin and is now preparing to take on the gruelling Gobi March next month to prove meat and animal products aren’t the only way of giving your body the energy and nutrition it needs for such an extreme endurance event.

The 155-mile race across the Gobi Desert under the sweltering Mongolian sun, will see the runner effectively complete a marathon every day for six days.

If that wasn’t hard enough, Fiona will also run wearing a ‘Percy the Cow’ costume in a bid to highlight what she says are the cruelties of the dairy industry.

Fiona said: “To have my lifestyle choice much more accepted and appreciated is very satisfying, as veganism to me isn’t just about what you eat, it’s the way you live your life and will play a massive part in the future of this planet.

“Running a marathon a day and more than a double marathon on one day with no outside assistance other than water is really, really tough but strangely exciting and inviting. But if you aren’t feeling nervous ahead of these races you aren’t giving them the respect they deserve.”

The elite athlete is the fastest woman to run a marathon on each continent and even the North Pole.

She hopes the Gobi March will raise enough money to feed the animals she looks after for a month.

The animals at Fiona’s sanctuary include 100 horses and 136 pigs, so feeding them can work out expensive.

Fiona, who is hoping to raise £10,000 said: “Fundraising is so critical, especially when people have less and less spare money.

“We have to raise every single penny and every donation goes directly to the feed costs for the animals so it really does make a huge difference taking on challenges like this and raising awareness of the work we do.”

To sponsor Fiona, visit goldengiving.com/fundraising/vegangobimarch