Ariel Rosenfeld, vegan ultradistance runner
Ariel Rosenfeld has been recognised for several years as a leading ultramarathon runner in Israel. He has also gained respect internationally and taken on extremely tough events outside his home country.
He won Sovev Emek, the most prominent Israeli ultramarathon four times in recent years, winning the 61km race in 2011, 2012 and 2014 and the longer 100km course in 2013. The 2013 victory was over an hour ahead of the second placed runner.
He has a marathon personal best of 2:41 and has been named ‘athlete of the year’ in 2013, 2015 and 2016 by ‘Shvoong’ the leading endurance running website in the country (link in Hebrew here).
In 2015 Ariel completed the 246k Spartathon race, finishing in 30 hours 45 minutes. In doing so he became only the second (and fastest) Israeli to complete it, placing of 35th placed him in the top 10% of this fiercely contested international event. His performance was covered by the Israeli TV sports channel, who interviewed Ariel.
Because of his participation in the Spartathon, he could not compete in the Sovov Emek. Instead he volunteered and awarded winners’ medals.
“Finishing the Spartathlon, which is considered the most gruelling ultra-marathon in the world, in my first attempt was my biggest achievement” he told us soon afterwards. He cited the challenging cut-off times as a major difficulty with the 154 mile Athens to Sparta race.
In 2016 Ariel took on a quality international field when he ran the Berlin Wall 100 mile event, and won it (read more here).
While this was his first step into international competition, it also help establish Ariel as an all time great in Israel, where he continues to write and speak extensively.
He also has been asked to speak nationally and internationally on sports and veganism by sports technology company SAP.
For much of his career Ariel has been vegan. “I've shifted to vegetarian diet in 2011” he says. “In my case that meant I as 95% vegan as I didn't drink milk before. A year after, in 2012, I've upgraded my diet to 100% vegan.” He is now entirely vegan.
Like many Israelis, Ariel was influenced by Gary Yourofsky. “I saw Gary Yourofsky movie” he told us “and that put a mirror in front of me.”
“90% of my nutrition is based on a variety of vegetables, fruit and legumes. I eat modest amount of cereals and nuts. The quantity depends very much on my training volume.”
This helps fuel some extreme distance training which reaches 160-200 km (100-125 miles) with additional strength work. The change did attract some attention, but unsurprisingly, Ariel’s incredible performances won over sceptics.
“At the beginning they didn't understand how can I live like that” he explained. “As they get to know me better, see my fast recovery times and my training capacity, some of them turned vegan as well.”
This is perhaps both benefiting from and contributing to the dramatic growth in veganism across Israel. He tells us that he’s noticed “lots more awareness everywhere - in the general public, in restaurants and in the supermarket in particular.”
The next step for Ariel is clear – he wants to compete internationally, and build on his successes so far. He’s also clear that this will be as a vegan. “I've shifted to vegan diet, in order to stop contributing to killing and using animals. I didn't expect to become a better athlete. It was a great bonus and surprise for me, and my running career skyrocketed since then!”
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