« back to articles

Erica O'Connor - Inline Skating

Erica O'ConnorHometown: Moorestown, NJ

Current Residence: Ann Arbor, MI

Sport: Inline Roadskating
Pro/Elite since: October 2006

Date of Birth: 3/30/1982
Website: herbivoremagazine.com

Favorite fruit: champagne mangoes because each one tastes unique
Favorite veggie: broccoli and spinach
Hobbies/Other sports: running, figure drawing, listening to NPR, squash, tennis, reading, rock climbing, and film

1. When and why did you choose to stop eating animal products?

About five years ago I adopted a semi-vegan diet as a protest against the environmentally destructive and inhumane practices of factory farming. As I educated myself more about food politics, animal welfare, and the health benefits of a plant-based diet I decided to become a true vegan.

2. What has been your experience as a vegan athlete? Have you noticed any performance or health benefits or problems?

My switch to a pure vegan diet and my skating success definitely coincided. My endurance feels limitless so long as the supply of bananas is as well.

3. Have teammates and other athletes been supportive or critical?

Most other athletes are first surprised and then cautiously curious about my diet. Commonly they assume I must expend extra energy to ensure I get enough protein or other nutrients to train hard. In actuality, I find it much easier to eat well under a vegan diet. Many also assume veganism takes a great amount of willpower to sustain—when in fact, for me, it requires none at all. I enjoy and appreciate good food now more than ever.

4. A brief history of your athletic career.

I swam competitively for several years as a kid and this helped me build a good endurance base. I began skating recreationally with my father when I was about 9 years old. I desperately wanted to be a long-distance runner but was somewhat limited by an injury in high school and a lack of talent. I started entering inline skating marathon races in 2004, but didn't start seriously training until 2006 at which point I began competing at an elite level. I was recently picked up by Pyroapparel owned by Alan Marcosson, and he has been very generous and supportive. In the winter I cross train on stairs (which is agony) and have recently picked up cycling.

5. Most memorable results or achievements (top 5)

Overall female winner of the Athens to Atlanta 87 mile road skate, October 2006
Overall female winner of the Great Lake Escape inline 40K, 2004, 2005, and 2006
Third place Professional Women’s Category Wolverine Inline Marathon, May 2006
First place female in age category Sears Tower stair climbing race, November 2006
Overall female winner Columbia Station inline 10 mile, July 2006

6. Why did you join OA's PRO-Activist team?

I am delighted for this chance to help promote a vegan diet. I believe that I succeed in my athletic endeavors not simply in spite of my diet, but because of it as well. I'd love to break the Athens to Atlanta record under the OrganicAthlete banner.