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How Jasmin Paris trained for Barkley Marathons with ‘completely bonkers’ hill repeats and much more

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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From a nine-hour hill repeats session – in the dark and in a snowstorm – to speed and strength work is how Jasmin Paris trained herself into the shape needed for a history-making performance at the Barkley Marathons.

Paris became the first woman to ever finish the infamous 100-mile race that packs in the equivalent climbs of more than twice Mount Everest through some fiendish terrain.

She’d been there twice before, both times pushing the boundaries of what had been accomplished, so what did it take to achieve Barkley immortality?

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‘This was really crazy’

Speaking to Dylan Bowman in an absorbing Freetrail podcast which is embedded below, the first part of the equation echoed what you’d expect for the test which lay ahead in the ‘Race That Eats Its Young’.

She explained: “There was one particular morning after I’d gone to bed at 8pm, the same sort of time as my son. I slept for four hours and got up at midnight and it was hammering down with rain outside. And I went out and the dog was a bit like, are you sure you want to go out now in the middle of the night?

“But I went out dressed in full waterproofs, all the gear, and I knew that the minute I started to climb it was going to turn to snow because it was just about one degree – and it did. It was really kind of battering it down and I was really acutely aware at that point that this was really crazy. Most people would think this was completely bonkers.

“But I just carried and pushed on – it was just a complete whiteout. It was a complete blizzard by the time I got to the top of the hill. And then I dropped down and then I basically did 17 times up and down this hill overnight.

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‘Fantastic kind of reward’

“In the early hours it was super slippy because the grass was wet and there was snow on top and I couldn’t keep my feet because I was on quite a steep slope, purposefully to be practising for Barkley.

“But then later in the night it got colder and it was just falling as kind of powdery snow. So then it changed and when I was running down again in the morning it was all white and beautifully cold and fantastic

“And I guess the fact that I just stuck it out and did my, you know, nine hours of reps or whatever. It was eight and a half hours and about 5,000 metres. But there was just something about that knowledge. And it actually, in a way, was kind of fun.

“I sort of finished and then took the kids swimming at 10:30 which was part of the reason I’d gone out overnight.

“But part of me had that inner kind of warm feeling when you’ve done something big. Because it doesn’t always have to be a race. Sometimes it can be a training session. And that one was like a prime example. It was just stored away – that knowledge that I’d done that and that it was okay. And I actually quite enjoyed it in a kind of slightly masochistic way.

“And at the end of it there was this fantastic kind of reward of the morning and the snow. I think sessions like that, you do something like that and then it kind of all adds up… that knowledge, that kind of self confidence.”

Double training

So the climbing was absolutely crucial, but it was also a very rounded plan on top of that.

Jasmin added: “I was still doing a weekly speed session, which was more flat intervals or like some hills, but maybe like two or three minute type hills. So a fast session each week as well.

“I also did sessions in the gym. So I would do a session in the morning, maybe 10 or 12 miles, but then I would be doing a thousand metres on the stair climber in the gym just before getting the kids from nursery, which I could just about manage. I’d do about 40 minutes or whatever, so I would kind of get the double training.

“And I did more strength work. Or I was more consistent with strength work. I’ve sort of been doing that for years but I was doing it three times a week and I was also doing it with weights. So that made a big difference because I’ve not really done it weighted very much in the past. So I just felt stronger all round.”

The rest, as we now know, is part of Barkley Marathons history as all the hard work paid off.

Jasmin Paris climbing Barkley Marathons loop three 2023 photo credit: Davidmillerphotography_ on Instagram
Jasmin Paris at the Barkley Marathons [Photo credit: Davidmillerphotography_ on Instagram]
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

THE SBRX Show

In episode 1 of our new SBRX Show we sit down with ultra runners and coaches Kim and Jayson Cavill to get their take on the Barkley Marathons and triathlon & trail running gear reviews, training tips and more

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