British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris is first woman to finish Barkley Marathons | Sport

The British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris has become the first woman to ever finish the notorious Barkley Marathons race in Tennessee.

The forty-year-old was one of only five runners to complete this year’s event, which is made up of five punishing 20-mile loops around the Frozen Head State Park. Paris’s finishing time was 59 hours, 58 minutes and 21 seconds – 99 seconds inside the 60-hour cut-off.

Paris made headlines in 2019 by winning the Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way in Northern England, breaking the course record for the mixed-sex event by 12 hours. She made more history in the United States on Friday, adding her name to a list of 20 competitors to have complete the event since it was extended to 100 miles in 1989.

Ihor Verys recorded the fastest time at this year’s event, with the Canada-based Ukrainian runner finishing in 58hrs 44min 59sec. Americans John Kelly and Jared Campbell also completed the race for the third and fourth time respectively, with New Zealand’s Greig Hamilton also beating the cut-off time.

In a sporting gesture, Campbell also appeared to offer Paris the choice to take on the final loop in the clockwise direction – which is generally considered slightly less difficult – as the remaining competitors camped out before the closing stage.

Paris, who has two children and works as a veterinarian and research scientist in Edinburgh, first competed in the Barkley Marathons in 2022, where she finished three loops. In last year’s race, she completed a fourth loop but was outside the time limit.

Known as ‘the race that eats its young’, the Barkley Marathons is considered to be one of the toughest ultramarathons in the world. While the woodland route changes year to year, it is estimated to feature 16,500m (54,000 feet) of both vertical climb and descent.

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The race was created by Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell and first run over 50 miles in 1986; Cantrell lights a ceremonial cigarette to mark the start of each year’s run.

The unusual event also features a bugler, who plays to signal when a runner has dropped out, and has hardly any online presence – all social media updates come from one man’s X account.

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