Jasmin Paris talks about first Barkley Marathons experience

The Brit became the first woman in 10 years to complete the "fun run"

Jasmin Paris with Barkley Marathons organiser Lazarus Lake

by Paul Halford |

After becoming the first woman in 10 years to complete the "fun run" at the Barkley Marathons this week, Jasmin Paris admitted the weather and the navigation were the most trying aspects.

The British ultra runner gained the honour by completing three loops of one of the world's toughest races within the requisite 40 hours. However, once again, no one was able to join the other 15 "finishers" who since the event started in 1986 have succeeded in covering all five 20-mile-plus loops in the 100 hours.

Paris, who was competing in the event for the first time, ended the third loop in 39hrs 49mins 56secs, which was nearly four hours outside the cut-off time required to start the fourth loop of the Frozen Head State Park forest.

The Montane Spine Race outright record-holder told her sponsors Inov-8: “The biggest challenges were the navigation and the weather. I made some significant navigational errors, so much so it felt like I ran the full 100 miles given all the detours I took!

“The torrential rain and fog, plus the dark, made loop 2 really difficult. I had to take my headtorch off and hold it in my hand because I couldn’t see past the beam. Not easy when you’re also carrying a map, compass and poles over steep ground and cliffs. I needed 10 hands, not two!"

“I also got very cold, and it was difficult working out the route given the conditions. I was pleased join up with Thomas (Dunkerbeck) in the thick forest about halfway round loop two. He was pleased to see me too! It’s an intimidating place to be on your own, especially in such conditions, so we worked together to finish loop two.

“After doing the first two loops in the same direction, I had to go the other way round on loop three. I was on my own and made some more significant navigation errors. I realised I wasn’t going to make it back in time to start a fourth loop so I focused on trying to get a Fun Run. I was really pleased to be able to achieve this. My goal was to give it absolutely everything I had, and I feel I did that, so I’m happy.”

Karel Sabbe, Greig Hamilton and John Kelly all completed three loops within the 36 hours. Kelly, who in 2017 became the last person to complete all five loops, declined to run the fourth. Neither Sabbe nor Hamilton could finish the fourth lap by the cut-off time.

Pic credit: Howie Stern/Inov-8

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