2019 has already been a total whirlwind year for me. We are only just over half way through the year and so much has happened both from a business and from a sporting point of view.
January started in style – from a business point of view, we had our best ever January on record with a massive marketing campaign centred around the ever growing Veganuary. I also made an appearance on Radio 5 Live talking about being a vegan athlete. The success followed in athletics too with a 5 mile multi terrain race win over in Warrington.
February carried on a similar direction where I managed to qualify for my first ever England vest in running at a 10K in Chichester and shortly after this time I made the famous podium at Oulton Park racetrack coming second in the 10k race there with 39.37. I was also invited into Unilever’s Head Office in February to talk to the commercial team about veganism and the entrepreneurial journey and I was a panellist at Retail Week covering the mindset of the modern shopper and the vegan consumer. I ended the month with a 5k Race win at Richmond Park which was a beautiful race and one I will never forget as it was beautiful to be running alongside the Deer Herds.
The following month was also kind as I clocked my fastest ever time for 10k at Arley Hall 10k with a new PB of 38.53 which was amazing as March was an extremely busy month in work as we were focusing on five new product launches so it was amazing I still had energy left to run a race let alone manage to smash a PB so I was reallyhappy with that! Functional Sports Nutrition Magazine also featured me on their front cover of their Mar/April edition focusing on plant based athletes and inside the mag I gave a full interview on everything health, fitness and nutrition. I also went on TV on the Ian King Live show on Sky News talking about the growth of the vegan market and the growth of Bravura Foods, which was really exciting to be part of. March finished with me picking up two further running awards for overall female winner of the Halewood 5k series and age group winner.
April came round faster than ever and brought with it the Natural and Organic Products Show in London where I was a key speaker covering the growth of the vegan market and the vegan consumer. We had two stands at the show covering all our awesome vegan products from vegan mallows to vegan gummy bears – it was a really busy great show. I also did a photo shoot on Formby Beach and Woodlands with Photographer Benjamin Youd who is building a portfolio of plant based athletes for an exhibition later this year. I headed over to Stockton mid April for the Stockton Duathlon and managed to win my entire age group, which qualified me for the 2020 World Championships so I was over the moon about that. Later in April came the trip to Pontevedra in Spain to compete in the 2019 World Duathlon Championships where I finished ninth in the world for my age group – my best ever world ranking.
In May, just a week after the World Championships, I was back in Liverpool racing the local Liverpool Spring 5K where I managed to make the podium with a third place finish on Sat 5th May, not one to rest on my laurels, I also raced the day after on Sun 6th May and won the Erdigg Multi Terrain 10k over in North Wales so that was a really successful weekend of racing! In the middle of May I did a fundraising fire walk for Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre and raised over £1,000 by walking on hot coals, for such a great animal charity that’s based just around the corner from where I live. It was the end of May when I got to don the New England Running vest at the Simply Health 10k in Birmingham and I can’t lie despite it being a tough race, it felt good to be in England colours! May continued to be an amazing month as I found out The Grocer had named me on their Plant Powered List as one of the ten most influential people driving the vegan market in the UK.
June came and brought with two more product launches and a new brand partnership in the business so it was an extremely busy time. We also had the fantastic news that for the second year running, Bravura Foods was awarded Best Vegan Distributor in the UK enterprise awards ran by SME News. Liverpool also won their sixth European cup which was amazing! I ran in the Hale Seashore 5K and managed to get back on the podium with a first female placement. I also put together a big feature on vegan protein for Naturally Good Health Magazine which was a detailed look at all the healthy foods vegan and plant based consumers can get their protein from. June also brought me my first ever British Masters 5K race over in Horwich at the Festival of Racing where I finished third in my age group and bagged a coveted bronze British Masters medal – another thing I am super proud of. Two weeks after this race I flew out to Romania for the European Duathlon Championships in the beautiful setting of Transylvania where I finished eighth in Europe in the Sprint Duathlon race – again another best performance and new best European ranking for this sport.
The day I flew to Romania I had to record a video message for the Health Food Institute as I had recently learned that I had been awarded the James Henry Cook Award for my inspiring support of vegan principles in business and in sport. My business partner Karl kindly attended the ceremony for me to collect the award which now sits proudly on my desk.
July has been about prepping for a big new product launch – its always when I am at my busiest in the business as there is so much to do from packaging design to advertising, PR and social media planning to sampling, exhibitions and presentations. It’s also been a busy month with the press as Veganuary, Plant Based News, Vegconomist and Great Vegan Athletes have all been covering my recent races and also my recent award win.
I can’t lie, its been the most exhausting but rewarding time and so it was only fitting I took some time off training and work recently and headed up to the Hebrides and the Isle of Skye to do some Kayaking and seal spotting – it really was a welcome break. Now back to it and looking at the next challenges ahead, the second half of the year looks to be just as action packed, with various races on the calendar including an ultra marathon relay with the Vegan Runners team in Jersey and another charity challenge for Freshfields Animal Rescue in Aug – this time an abseil down Liverpool Anglican cathedral! We also have a huge new product launch in Sept with a big London show to plan for. It’s been a crazy and busy time but hard work, focus and commitment to the cause is bringing good results in both business and sport and I hope it continues to inspire others who are curious about the vegan lifestyle and all the amazing things that go with it!