The number of vegetarians and vegans is growing. In 2009 the American Dietetic Association estimated that the number of vegetarians and vegans would double by 2020. In 2011 the Vegetarian Resource Group showed that the number of vegetarians and vegans had already doubled since 2009.

Europe (EVU – European Vegetarian Union):  5 % ≡ 37 million vegetarians in total
Germany (EVU, VEBU):                                        9 % ≡ 7 million vegetarians & 800,000 vegans
Austria (IFES-Studie, 2013):                                9 % ≡ 760,000 vegetarians & 80,000 vegans

The number of vegetarian and vegan athletes is also increasing worldwide. A few outstanding elite and professional runners such as Scott Jurek (ultra-marathon), Michael Arnstein (marathon) and Fiona Oakes (marathon) have chosen a purely plant-based diet. The sporting successes (world records, wins, etc.) of these and many other ultra-endurance athletes show that it is possible to reach a high level in endurance sport on a purely plant-based diet and therefore it can be reliably assumed that a vegan diet is well suited to achieving such high standards in sport.

As part of the bikeeXtreme research project Dr Katharina Wirnitzer was the first to investigate the endurance and stress profile of mountain bikers during a race staged over eight days. In 2014 the Austrian sports scientist reached a milestone with the publication of the world’s first purely plant-based nutrition tactics in endurance sport (32 years after it was first scientifically recommended as the optimal nutrition strategy, especially for endurance athletes, in 1982): Wirnitzer KC & Kornexl E (2014). Energy and macronutrient intakte of a female vegan cyclist during an 8-day mountain bike stage race. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent); 27(1):42-45

This case study was the foundation stone: now we have to build on it.


The leader of the study, Dr Wirnitzer, therefore designed the NURMI-Study as a follow-up to the mountain-bike field study and set up a second pilot study in order to build on this foundation stone.
The NURMI Study was set up as an interdisciplinary (nutrition, medicine and sports science) and international (researchers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland) comparative study of running in order to answer some of the so far still unanswered scientific questions and create a broad basis for well-founded evidence of the link between endurance and diet (omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan).


Although the number of vegetarians and vegans worldwide is increasing, it is difficult to find a group of vegetarian and vegan athletes taking part in the same competition to provide a sufficiently large sample for a study.
The proportion of racing cyclists who are vegetarians and vegans is still very small. However the proportion of runners who are vegetarian and vegan is several times greater (“Everybody runs!!), so the broad appeal of running as a sport and the large number of keen runners would seem to form the basis for a large sample.

The aim of this comparative study of running is to investigate and compare the endurance of omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. The first stage of the NURMI Study will therefore examine epidemiological aspects (e.g. age, sex and breakdown of omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan runners at running events), then the second and third stages will investigate the link between diet and running ability.
However a large sample of participants is needed in order to produce representative results and scientific evidence.
By publicizing the NURMI Study we hope to find at least 1,500 runners, i.e. 500 omnivores, 500 vegetarians and 500 vegans.

Well, we’re allowed to dream!
However the NURMI team has sets itself the high target of 10,000 participants, which will provide a particularly meaningful sample – but we didn’t pluck this figure out of the air!
A 1997 US running study, the National Runners’ Health Study, managed to find an incredible sample of 9,242 runners as far back as 17 years ago.
It is this sort of impressive figure that we are aiming for.
With keen runners from all over Europe participating in the NURMI Study we can, all of us together, reach for the stars (science). Together with all of you we should like to try to reach this target of a huge sample for the NURMI Study.

NURMI – Be part of it!
Therefore we are inviting ALL runners (both male and female, any distance) to take part in what is probably the most important study of running ever so that together we can really achieve something. If you would like to take part in the NURMI Study and thus make an important contribution to your sport, please register at .
You can also help us to reach the target of 10,000 participants by mentioning NURMI as often as possible, wherever you are, to as many runners as possible, including by liking and following it and retweeting and forwarding messages. Thank you, and put your best foot forward!