Vieraana ultralegenda Jukka Kukkonen

Ultra legend Jukka Kukkonen as a guest

Who is Jukka Kukkonen?

Jukka can be called quite a pioneer in the Finnish trail ultrarunning scene. In 1986, he ran the first 126 km trail ultra on his own in the Malaysian rainforest. Jukka has run legendary races such as UTMB (170KM), Western states (100 miles), Tor des Geants (330km), SwissPeaks (360km), Comrades Marathon (87km) and many other ultras, most of which are 160-360km. Of course, there are also marathons and, for example, the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon. You could even call him a legend of the sport in Finland.

Jukka is active on Instagram and does the trailpodder podcast. Jukka visited the village and recorded an episode about the diet of an athletic vegan. Listen here . We cooked and tasted shop products such as Herkkä Snacks Pohjola stew and Planet Amino power biscuits. Finally, Jukka left with a backpack full of energy to prepare for Lapland's NUTS300.

I asked Juka a few questions and here are the answers:

What is it like to be a vegan athlete?

Great! I probably wouldn't be able to be an athlete at all as a sexagenarian (60-69) if I wasn't vegan. Or am I an athlete after all, when a large part of my races over 300 km is pole walking? I can walk long distances and steep mountains like Nietzsche, who hated sitting inside. On the other hand, I spend too much time at the service points like Kant, who enjoyed the Food Table for hours and avoided sweating in the sun.

In any case, I strongly feel that plant-based nutrition promotes fitness, health and well-being. Moving in nature while observing the environment and listening to birdsong is good.

In addition, veganism is an easy and cheap way to protect nature, animals and humanity. In my opinion, it is the best way to combat the loss of nature and climate change.

Is this battle with 200-mile trail ultras sometimes quite challenging. I haven't always been able to get vegan energy at the service points in all the races. That's why I prefer races that offer vegan options. Unfortunately, not all race organizers always deliver on their promises. For example, when I came to the 50km service in Lake Tahoe, I asked what vegan food they had available. The gruff reply was "Nothing!" In addition, the Spring gels in my backpack have now been found in laboratory measurements to contain about a third of the advertised calories. It led to an interruption when the energies ran out on the biggest mountain.

The best service I received was in April at the Northern Traverse in England, where when arriving for service you could choose from several vegan options. In addition, they sometimes cook special meals according to my preferences. Year by year, veganism is becoming more common and the situation is rapidly developing in a positive direction, which feels great. A decade ago, everything was more difficult.

Why did you become vegan and when?

All my life I regularly ate a lot of meat and fish. Everything of animal origin became rotten from the mouth until 2010. As Jung said, there are two different stages in a person's life. Before, stage 2 started at 20-30 years old, but now that life spans are getting longer, stage 2 doesn't start until 40-50 years old. In the second stage, the intuitive daimion, which Socrates and Plato already talked about, takes on a key position. I stopped drinking alcohol completely in 2002 when I turned 40. The birth of my son definitely had an effect, as did the example of a few successful vegan ultrarunners.

In 2010, I had cooked vegan meals for our English guest, and he praised them as tasty. I got the idea to try being vegan for a month. At first, learning vegan recipes took time. Especially giving up dairy products (such as vanilla ice cream, which I used to consume up to a liter a day) was more challenging for me than it is today, when you can find a ready-made vegan version of everything on the store shelf these days. After a month had passed, I didn't want to go back to the old way, but I have continued on the vegan line ever since. I analyzed everything I ate on the computer, and made sure I got the optimal amount of all the nutrients. I only have to take vitamins D and B12 as supplements.

What else are you doing ecologically?

A couple of years ago I joined The Green Runners in England, which is now a global community for ecological runners - "A running community making changes for a fitter planet." Our four basic pillars are how we move (move), eat (eat), equip ourselves (kit up), and inform (speak up). Every year, each member must publish their own promise to develop (pledge) regarding these issues.

We log garbage from the earth, we prepare and eat vegetarian dishes, we compete in competitions that take into account ecological aspects, we don't buy unnecessary things, we recycle, we read books, we share our experiences on social media, we write and talk about it. Renowned ultrarunners Jasmin Paris (first female Barkley finisher) and Damian Hall (trail runner - Spine Race winner, coach - Jasmin Paris, author - We Can't Run Away From This) are founding members.

In addition to the main trailplodder account, I have a sub-account trailplogg3r on IG for this eco-activity. In addition, the trailpodder podcast has its own account. And ultrajuukso_lukupiiri - you can check my book recommendations there.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.