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| 4 minutes read

Jasmin Paris: breaking boundaries "for women worldwide"

On 22 March, British ultrarunner, vet, scientist, and mother of two, Jasmin Paris, became the first woman in history to complete the infamous Barkley Marathons 100-mile race. 

During a post-race interview, Jasmin shared that she completed the challenge “for women worldwide”. 

Jasmin added that she took on and accomplished the challenge “not just for runners – but any woman that wants to take on a challenge and maybe doesn’t have the confidence”. In particular, Jasmin noted “how hard it is to keep young girls in sports”; hoping that her accomplishments will inspire women, and especially young girls, to “believe in themselves”.[1]

The Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons is an annual ultramarathon trail race held in Frozen Head State Park in Morgan County, Tennessee. The race is considered one of the world’s most gruelling endurance feats, with a fail rate of 98%. 

The race was created by Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell and Karl Henn, who were inspired by the 1977 prison escape of James Earl Ray (Martin Luther King’s assassin who ran and hid for circa 8 miles through the woods in 54.5 hours). Cantrell believed he could cover 100 miles in that time and so set upon creating the race. The race was first run in 1986. In 1989, it was extended from 55 to 100 miles. 

To enter, potential entrants must pay a USD 1.60 application fee and complete an essay on “Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley”.

The current course consists of five 20-mile loops around the off-trail park. There are no aid stations, just a couple of water stops, and the course elevation is circa 16,500 metres. To put that into perspective, that is around twice the height of Mount Everest from sea level.

Last year, Jasmin became the first woman since 2001 to embark on a fourth loop of the course. Prior to that, the record women's achievement was 66 miles, completed by Sue Johnston in 2001. On 22 March 2024, Jasmin completed the race in 59:58:21. Thanks to her incredible finish, she made it back to the famed yellow gate with 99-seconds to spare in the 60-hour cut off[2]. Jasmin is now one of only 20 people to have finished the Barkley Marathons, since it was extended in 1989. 

Jasmin’s success was the culmination of months of training every morning from 5:00 am to 7:45 am, before her two children were awake, and she started work[3]. During a post-race interview, Jasmin commented “I still find it really exciting to push myself, especially when I don’t know whether I can do something” and reflected that the final moments of this years’ race “have redefined for me what I am capable of”. Also commenting on the final moments of Jasmin’s performance, a professional photographer at the race noted that he had witnessed the “greatest ultramarathon achievement of all time”.  

Jasmin Paris and her previous victories

As well as an ultramarathoner, Dr Jasmin Paris is a small animal vet and a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. 

Jasmin was born in Manchester and grew up in the Peak District. Whilst studying at the University of Liverpool, Jasmin was a member of the ‘Open Air Club’ (for outdoor pursuits), however, she did not start running until she left university in 2008. 

In 2010, Jasmin moved to Edinburgh and began to take running more seriously. Amongst other epic feats, she subsequently won the Scottish Hill Running Championships in 2014 and 2015, the Skyrunner World Series in 2016, and the British Fell Running Championships in 2015 and 2018. She also holds the women’s record times for the UK’s classic trio of big 24-hour mountain challenges[4].

In January 2019, Jasmin shot to international sporting prominence when, 14 months after giving birth to her first child, she became the first woman to win outright the 268-mile Montane Spine Race (a winter ultra-running event also known as ‘Britain’s Most Brutal’). Jasmin completed the race in 83:12:23, breaking the record by 12 hours and beating all male and female rivals. Notably, Jasmin beat her nearest rival by 15 hours, even with stopping at aid stations throughout the race to express breast milk for her baby.[5] At the time, Jasmin joined the increasing list of female athletes beating men at ultra-endurance events[6].

The future for Jasmin

Following last week’s performance, Jasmin continues to make history and break boundaries both in the ultra-endurance space and more generally for women in sport. 

With her history-making race completed, Jasmin already has her sights set on her next challenges: the Scottish Islands Peaks Race on 17 May 2024, followed by the Tor des Géants in Italy in September 2024[7].

For the present, prior to Jasmin’s arrival back in Edinburgh on 25 March 2024, she said: "I’m really looking forward to getting back to see the kids tomorrow and pick them up from school and nursery and give them a really big hug". 


[1] Jasmin Paris: I ran 'toughest race' to inspire women worldwide - BBC News

[2] WATCH: Jasmin Paris' history-making Barkley finish as she inspires "women worldwide" | Trail Running News | RUN247

[3] Hallucinations and no sleep: Jasmin Paris on her historic ultramarathon | Athletics | The Guardian

[4] (i) Bob Graham Round (England): 15 hrs 24 mins; (ii) Paddy Buckley Round (Wales): 18 hrs 33 mins; and (iii) Ramsay Round (Scotland): 16 hrs 13 mins.

[5] Who Is Jasmin Paris? The Running Mum Who Made Global Headline | INOV8 UK (

[6] In August 2019, German cyclist Fiona Kolbinger was the first woman to win the Transcontinental Race through Europe (4,000 km in 10 days) and in September 2019, US swimmer Sarah Thomas was the first person ever to swim the English Channel four times non-stop (215 km in 54 hours).

[7] Jasmin Paris: I ran 'toughest race' to inspire women worldwide - BBC News


sport, women in sport