The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 27 - April 17, 2013


Teaching vegan in Venice

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Ellen Jaffe Jones with her booth at the
Shark's Tooth Festival.

Active Suncoast Foundation is one of many umbrella organizations that sponsors running races in the Bradenton/Sarasota area. Yesterday’s Shark’s Tooth 10K (6.1 miles) in Venice is one of several finely tuned events Suncoast puts on. Last year, the dairy industry paid for free chocolate milk to be handed out post-race. In response to that, the organizer of the races this year, including yesterday’s, kindly asked me to have a table and talk to attendees.

I thought that getting up at 4 a.m. and leaving by 5 would have been more than enough time to make the hour-plus drive to the Venice Airport where the Shark’s Tooth Festival and race was located. I ran into parking traffic and then had to park my car in three different places before I found a place close enough to unload my books and all that I bring to these events.

By the time I unloaded, set up my table, and got my race bib, I didn’t have time to do my pre-race ritual of running a mile with dynamic warm-up exercises. I got to the start line with two minutes to spare. Let’s just say I also didn’t have enough time to do other rituals either, and without going into detail, at the 2-mile mark I began frantically scouring the course for a port-o-potty. I found one just off the course at a construction site and that added a precious two minutes to my finish time.

Even with that, I finished sixth out of 18 in my age group. I would have finished third and received an age group award if I hadn’t had to detour. Oh well. I traded in glory for being able to present some healthy alternatives. I am always surprised at how many people come up to me at races, as they did this time, and tell me they already eat vegetarian (no animals, but includes dairy/eggs) or vegan (no animal foods at all).

On one side of me were the free muffins and ice cream booths. On the other side of me was an amazing company, M3Power Therapeutics and the director, Michele Weissman. We were literally the last two booths, and maybe the last two people besides the race organizers to be there.

Michele saw me doing my post-run stretches and said, “Come over to my massage table and let me really stretch you.”

In my book, all massages I’ve ever had are the best I’ve ever had, but Michele worked on my cranky, bunioned and almost motionless big toe and got it flexing again. Too many years of high-heels and muscle imbalances. She had some awesome massage oils too. I left her table floating.

Despite my crankiness getting organized, which I take total responsibility for, the race was impeccably well-organized, and the course may be one of the prettiest I’ve ever done. There are many views of the Gulf, even though you never run on the sand. Runners always have opinions of how slow or fast race awards are given out. The emcee of this race did it just right on a sound system that worked.

One more bonus was that a representative from Road Runners Club of America, the organization that certifies many U.S. road races and certifies many running coaches, including me, was there to present state awards to top finishers. We talked about the upcoming national RRCA Convention’s heavily advertised dietician presenting that same dairy industry seminar I’ve been loudly complaining about over the years every time I see it, “Chocolate Milk, The Ideal Recovery Drink.”

“We need to get you there too,” he said.

Stay tuned.

You can follow Island resident Ellen Jaffe Jones on her Facebook page and keep up with her just released book:,"Eat Vegan on $4 a Day," or her website: She is also a nationally certified personal trainer and running coach. For training in a gym or private hire, contact Ellen at or 941-704-1025.

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