An 86-year-old ultramarathon runner who was born in Blackburn says his life has changed since adopting a vegan diet, and claims it is the reason why his arthritis symptoms disappeared.

Paul Youd has run 11 ultramarathons, a running race that is longer than the standard 26.2 mile marathon distance, since the age of 83.

He is on a mission to run 100 'ultras' before his 100th birthday and also aims to complete one million press ups between his 80th and 90th birthdays.

After becoming concerned about mad cow disease, Paul cut meat out of his life in the early 2000s.

He adopted a fully plant-based vegan lifestyle in 2003, aged 65, consuming no animal food or drink products.

Lancashire Telegraph: Paul Youd after finishing an ultramarathonPaul Youd after finishing an ultramarathon (Image: Paul Youd)

He said: “I gave up meat in the early 2000s to avoid getting mad cow disease.

"From there I started looking at the dairy and egg industry and didn’t like all that I saw.”

Since becoming vegan, Paul said he noticed several health benefits including reduced inflammation from his arthritis, a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. He now claims to have no symptoms.

Paul, who previously lived in Redlam, said: “The damage is done and I can’t make a fist due to my arthritis  – it was so bad that I couldn’t shake hands it was so painful.

“But I have no more painful arthritis symptoms since going vegan.

“My fingers were getting really gnarled and twisted. When I went vegan the symptoms disappeared.

"I once ate some chicken, that was otherwise going to waste, and as soon as I did my thumb became red, sore and angry and it took a few months for it to go down again - this is why [I believe] eat and animal products made my symptoms worse.”

Paul started to take running seriously in lockdown when he would run laps in his garden, aged 82.

After finding joy in running he ran his first ultramarathon aged 83.

He said: “I did some parkruns initially and found I could do it and that I really enjoyed it.

“After I finished my first one I thought I would carry on doing this because I love it.”

Through his ultramarathon running, Paul also fundraises for animal rights organisation, Viva

Paul’s experience running the South West Coast 50 Ultramarathon, in 2022, has been documented in ‘I Could Never Go Vegan’, a film made by Tom Pickering which is set to premiere at a London cinema in April.

He will feature alongside other athletic vegans who are disproving the stereotype vegans are not strong.

Paul said he was honoured to have been selected to take part.

Lancashire Telegraph: Paul Youd's ultramarathon medalsPaul Youd's ultramarathon medals (Image: Paul Youd)

The former Sunny Bower resident said: “They found me on Facebook.

"They were looking for an old runner and they were looking for people who had become vegan for different reasons.

“I am a vegan animal rights activist and want to spread the word about how cruel eating animals is. How we exploit animals in all aspects of our lives is so cruel.

“I am 86, not on any medication and I am living my best life. I want to show people what is possible.

“My aim is to show that, as a vegan, you can be fit and healthy and strong into old age - should I ever get there!

“I am inspired by athlete David Goggins who encouraged people to get out of their comfort zone and be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

"We can all do so much more than we think we can – and I wish I had learned this when I was younger.”