Rich Roll’s dad smiled as he gestured to the man on the cover of the book by my restaurant’s register. On the front of Finding Ultra, the image of a runner in full stride cuts a lean and muscular figure.
Judging from that photograph, it’s hard to believe that Rich Roll wasn’t always the picture of health — or that his father wasn’t always so proud of his accomplishments.
But on a January morning in 1997, Rich was so nervous about meeting his dad for coffee that he downed two vodka tonics in advance. Their effects were impossible to hide.
When they returned Roll’s apartment, his dad confronted him:
“I know what’s going on, Rich. You know we love you more than anything. I’m so sorry … but your mom and I just can’t… watch you destroy yourself … If you get sober, give us a call. But until then, we don’t want to hear from you. You’re on your own. Good-bye.”
This story could have had a very different, and tragic, ending. But several weeks later, Roll’s dad reached out to him with the name of a psychiatrist who specialized in treating alcoholism. To his great relief, Rich sought help.
Then, in 2006, 50 pounds overweight and nearly incapable of staggering up the stairs of his California home, the recovering alcoholic decided to adopt a health-restoring lifestyle.
Dubbed his “Plant-Powered Regimen,” it included “… extensive study of plant-based nutrition, disease prevention, and exercise physiology.”
Ninety days in, he went jogging one morning — and didn’t return until covering nearly the distance of a full marathon.
After another three months, he continues:
“ … I’d already lost forty-five pounds, lowering my body weight to a lean and mean 165 pounds. Not only was I ripped, I was hooked. And then I really put my regimen to work, testing the absolute limits of my physical potential.”
And in 2008, at age 42, Roll went on shock the endurance-sports world by placing 11th in Hawaii’s 3-day Ultraman World Championships.
In doing so, he had completed:
a 6.2-mile ocean swim
two bike rides covering 260 miles
a 52.4-mile run (twice the length of a traditional marathon!)
in the space of three days.
The next year, he did even better by finishing 6th. Plant-based eating fueled both his astonishing performances.
Written to commemorate his 2008 Ultraman success, Finding Ultra includes a photo of Rich standing next to his beaming dad. And the smile on his dad’s face?
It’s exactly like the one he had the day he came into Fruitive, ordered one of our plant-based meals and pointed to Finding Ultra!