Vegan supermodel-turned-ultrarunner Michele Graglia was recognized last week as the new Guinness World Record holder for the fastest-ever crossing of Chile’s Atacama Desert on foot. Graglia completed the 560-mile run across challenging stony and sandy terrain in eight days, 12 hours, and 49 minutes—the equivalent of running two to three marathons per day. “The Atacama is one of the most challenging environments on earth, and the crossing certainly allowed me the opportunity to test my limits as an athlete,” Graglia said. “Just completing the crossing was a personal triumph that I will always treasure, but the fact that Guinness has now recognized it as a world record makes it even more meaningful.” In 2018, he set out on a journey to cross the World’s four major deserts in four consecutive years: the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, the Sahara Desert in Africa, and finally the Antarctica Polar Desert through the South Pole. Last summer, Graglia won the Badwater 135—a 135-mile non-stop marathon from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA—which is one of the most prestigious titles on the ultramarathon circuit and considered the world’s toughest foot race. Graglia recently transitioned to a plant-based diet to improve his athletic performance but also believes veganism has become a choice dictated by environmental sustainability and animal welfare. “There are plenty of ways now to approach a vegetarian or vegan diet without sacrificing anything,” Graglia said. “Taking this path will open up immense opportunities to live a healthier and more sustainable life.” Graglia’s book, Ultra, was published in Italy in 2017 and is scheduled to be released in the United States this year.
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